Eight-year-old Rachel Quek’s artistic talent is giving impoverished Cambodian children a chance at education.
On Oct. 2, an art auction featuring her paintings raised more than 10 times the targeted amount, the proceeds of which will go entirely to funding the education of children from the Assisting Cambodian Orphans and The Disabled Organization.
Held at her home in Bukit Batok, the art auction, organized by her parents, Rick Quek and Sherie Ng, saw a turnout of family and friends as well as their cell group and church members from City Harvest Church.
The ACODO had been adopted by the Queks’ cell group some time ago, and has been receiving cash gifts, clothes, shoes, books and toys from their donors every month. But when the request surfaced for the children to receive funds in order to get a basic education, Rachel took a cue from her parents and set her mind on making sure that she helped put at least one child in a classroom.
Intially, the student of Henry Park Primary School thought of saving up her daily allowance of S$1.50 in order to make up S$390—the cost for one year of basic education per child in Cambodia, but it soon became obvious that it was not a very feasible idea. In the face of limited resources, however, ingenuity kicked in.
Having taken art classes since age 4, Rachel took out all her art pieces one day and decided to sell them for one or two dollars apiece. “She had about 80 pieces of very good artwork,” says Ng. Her art collection focused on event-specific subjects such as the recently concluded Formula One Grand Prix, the Youth Olympic Games, and Chinese New Year reunion dinners, but they also reflect a happy, joyful childhood—ranging from family portraits to the animal kingdom.
Quite the accomplished young artist, one of Rachel’s artwork was even selected to be featured on a piece of hoarding at Dempsey Hill.
Her initiative has hit the right spot, setting into motion an outpouring of generosity from others—the art pieces attracted bids starting from S$50 to several hundreds of dollars. The first hammer price, in fact, topped S$500. Says account manager Eling Tan, who bought one of the artworks, “I just wanted to play a part in helping out a girl who is so young yet has such a big heart for the less fortunate.”
|CN PHOTOS: Kenneth Tan|
The auction eventually raised more than S$3,000.
“The environment our children grow up in is so important. For Rachel and her brother, they’re very conscious of people who are less privileged than they are, even though they are well-provided for, because they’ve been exposed to such issues at Children’s Church,” explains Ng, when asked about the key to raising children who are attuned to the needs of the underprivileged.
Says art teacher, Joanne Lio, who has been giving classes to Rachel at the Gifted Artist Studio since the beginning of the year, “She’s just a very sensible and mature child. In class, she is always the last to finish her work, but she never questions why that is so, or gets bothered by it. You can really see that she takes a lot of pride in her work.”
Asked what she wished for the children in Cambodia, Rachel replies simply, “To have a happy life.”