A huge thank you to the young entrepreneurs of Scoil Naomh Treasa in Bellewstown, County Meath. Third and fourth class have put two and two together to make €700 for Nepal Leprosy Trust, a charity that works in Nepal to support people affected by leprosy (www.nlt.ie).
After reading My Secret Dragon, the children spotted the link between Mum’s shame at being different (to say the least – she’s part dragon) and the rejection faced by many people in Nepal because they have leprosy. The oldest recorded disease in history, leprosy is considered a curse in some parts of the country. People who contract the bacterial disease may lose their jobs, homes, friends and even families, even though it’s hard to catch and relatively easy to cure.
My Secret Dragon pushes the idea of rejection due to difference to extremes in Mum, with her scales and fire-breathing. One character is disgusted by her gift and another wants to exploit it. Needless to say, they’re adults. The only admirer is Charlotte: needless to say, a child.
How fitting, then, and wonderful to see Charlotte’s real-life peers champion the cause of literal ‘outcasts’ – people cast out because of their difference. The Bellewstown pupils planned and ran ‘Fight for Hope’, a two-day fair at their school. They baked cakes, organised games, sold sweets and knick-knacks, set up the kitty and counted the money. Dragon’s Den with heart – here they come.