Here at Travel Play Live we have been following the Heart to Heart journey for awhile and are very excited to be supporting this fantastic organisation working with at risk teens in our local community. We caught up with its founder Donna Rankin.
In a few lines describe yourself.
I am a mother of three beautiful children, Holly, Shannon and Reuben. I am an artist, and a humanitarian.
We want to know all about how and why you are on your current mission, how it came about, why is it so important to you?
I am on my current mission, Heart to Heart, because my own heart was broken when I lost my beautiful daughter Shannon. I was disengaging from life and slipping away from reality when a friend encouraged me to use my art to reach out to young people in our local schools who were needing help and support. Although this was daunting at the time I created a program that would increase self esteem using art as the conduit.
I found myself amongst kindred spirits with these young people. I also found that my art based program was making positive changes in their lives. I was approached by the School Principal to expand my program. I came up with a ‘crazy’ idea and from there Heart to Heart was born.
I am on my current mission, Heart to Heart, because my own heart was broken when I lost my beautiful daughter Shannon.
Tell us a little more about Heart to Heart and its mission.
Heart to Heart aims to empower young girls in our local community who have faced great challenges in their lives. Empowerment is ignited through education, art classes, community interaction, a humanitarian travel experience and the opportunity to change the lives of children less fortunate than themselves.
With the help of our local community funds are raised to take the girls on a journey to Vietnam where they teach art classes to the children of the Vung Tau Orphanage. Empowerment occurs not only when girls become teachers but also when they see the changes they are able to make in the lives of the orphaned children through the money they have raised.
The latest group of Heart to Heart girls (year 9 and 10 students) have recently completed an intensive 8 week art course. During this course they interacted with Health workers, Youth workers and a PCYC Officer. From here the fund raising begins for their life changing journey to Vietnam and for the children of the orphanage.
The girls will travel to Vietnam in July next year accompanied by 3 teachers from Great Lakes College and myself.
What is it you want to accomplish and how do you see it empowering others?
Heart to Heart aims to change the lives of our young ‘at risk’, ‘disadvantaged’ and ‘disengaged’ youths and simultaneously change the lives of children less fortunate in a third world country such as Vietnam. Heart to Heart not only empowers the young people involved in the program but also the adults who help make Heart to Heart a reality.
Who or What inspired you to this point?
I am inspired by My Houng Le, the woman in charge of the Vung Tau Orphanage. She herself has overcome great challenges in her life. She is an ‘Operation Baby Lift baby’, handed to an Australian family during the Vietnam War. She has suffered great hardship during her life but has overcome these challenges and has dedicated her life to the vulnerable children in her care.
Why is this project important & what changes do you hope will come about from your efforts?
- Heart to Heart is an initiative that changes the lives of the vulnerable young people in our community.
- Last year 8 young lives were changed forever.
- Over $30,000 was raised by our community to support Heart to Heart.
- $10,000 was donated to the Vung Tau Orphanage, this was enough money to feed the orphanage children for a whole year.
- Heart to Heart is supported and endorsed by Layne Beachly, seven times world champion surfer.
- Heart to Heart won the Great Lakes Community Cultural Award for 2013.
Tell us your dreams, what does the future hold?
My dream is that Heart to Heart becomes a program that is run throughout Schools in NSW and Australia.