Launceston charity Bright Star Foundation is holding a fundraising dinner this Friday night, with money raised going towards children’s education in South Sudan.
The funds will be personally delivered by the organisation’s founder, Besta Peters, who grew up in the war-torn nation, and still holds its future close to her heart.
All of Besta’s immediate family was killed in the civil war that has ravaged Sudan since 1983. An orphan from the age of four, she was raised by her aunt, and walked ten kilometres a day in order to go to school.
“I was expelled from school many, many times because I couldn’t afford to pay the school fees,” she said. “Sometimes the teacher would kick me out of class, and I would sit behind the classroom and I would cry. But I would come back. I would try and hear through the window what they were talking about.”
Besta’s aunt gave up everything, including her own family, in order to raise Besta. At the young age of 34, she left her husband and returned to her home village to make sure Besta had a roof over her head.
Besta said that after witnessing her aunt’s sacrifice, and knowing that she would have been completely alone without it, it was inevitable that she would grow up and try to help others herself.
“She completely gave her life to me, and she didn’t leave me, until last year when she died,” she said. “So I thought, I need a career that leads me to be helpful to other people.”
After spending four years as a refugee in Egypt, Besta came to Australia in 2003. She studied social work at the University of Tasmania. There she met Roxy Hussain, who now also volunteers at the Bright Star Foundation. In Roxy and the other Bright Star Foundation members, Besta found people able to support her in her dream of being able to help children in South Sudan, who’s lives are now what hers once was.
“We’ve both lived overseas and come back and the friendship’s still there,” Roxy said.
“We raised $2000 at the first [fundraising dinner] and $6000 in the next one. We’ve already got $3000 and we’re hoping for more for this one.”
To find out more or to donate to the Bright Star Foundation, contact Roxy Hussain at 0400 844 795.