It’s not everyday you get woken up by a national morning television program at your front door.
Guildford West schoolgirl Taya Morante had a visit from Today weather presenter Stevie Jacobs last week.
Taya, 12, was nominated in the program’s Australia’s Little Hero search to find Australia's bravest, kindest and most extraordinary kids.
Taya was a NSW winner for her work with Australian Aid 4 Cambodia, which helps Cambodians living in poverty improve their lives. Managed by a group of Canley Vale Public School teachers and parents, the charity runs two schools, builds huts and water wells and coordinates food and clothing drives.
Taya has been involved with the charity since she was nine. She has learned the Khmer language and is an active member of her local Cambodian dance group.
“When she was in year three, she came to me with a painting she’d done that she wanted to turn into bookmarks to sell and raise money,” proud mum Vicki said.
“We had a teacher at the school who had a charity and the rest is history. She raised $120 at her first cupcake stall, which went towards feeding lunch to 100 Cambodian kids, which we got photos of.”
Taya raised $3000 to cover the annual wages of a teacher in Cambodia by selling bookmarks, pencil toppers, seedlings, lollipops and cupcakes.
“She’s very thoughtful and a champion of social justice,” Mrs Morante told the Sun.
“If there’s a kid in the playground who needs help, Taya is there. That’s her in a nutshell. She was very shocked when she went to Cambodia for the first time but it made her more determined.”
Taya told Today:
“Seeing poverty everywhere changed me as a whole as I wasn’t used to see that here in Australia every day. I wanted to make a difference and thought that if everyone did something in the world, then the world would be a better place.”
Australian Aid 4 Cambodia secretary and Canley Vale Public School teacher Cynthia Villar nominated Taya.
“Kids like this need to be recognised” she said.
“She puts her heart and soul into everything she does and is passionate about making sure other kids live life to their full potential. Taya doesn’t do anything by halves.”
Taya received $5000 for her charity and $1000 for herself. The aspiring journalist will also get the chance to visit Channel Nine’s studios. She is currently creating a website to sell the bookmarks she makes.
“It takes a lot of pressure off as $5000 will run the charity for five months,” Mrs Morante said.
Mrs Villar added:
“We raise $10,000 at our annual fund-raiser, which is a hard slog so to receive $5000 in the space of five minutes, we were over the moon.”