Paying it forward for Children's Day at Frontier Primary

Talia Astapura, 10, and her mother Julianah Johar posing for a picture with Acting Minister for Education Ng Chee Meng at the carnival at Frontier Primary School.
Talia Astapura, 10, and her mother Julianah Johar posing for a picture with Acting Minister for Education Ng Chee Meng at the carnival at Frontier Primary School.ST PHOTO: KUA CHEE SIONG

SINGAPORE - Frontier Primary pupil Talia Astapura, 10, was born deaf and wears cochlear implants she received through a National University Hospital fund.

That inspired the Primary 4 pupil to want to give back to society, so she decided to sell her story books to her schoolmates, with the money going to a charity.

Talia wrote an e-mail to her principal, Mr Martin Koh, 48, who then gave her a booth at the school's annual Children's Day carnival on Wednesday.

It was also the first time that the Primary 4 pupils - the pioneer batch of the school - were given the job of running the carnival booths on their own. Money from the sale of carnival coupons will be donated to the Community Chest.

Talia's mother, secondary school teacher Julianah Johar, 39, said she was pleasantly surprised that Talia wanted to raise funds for charity.

"She's a fast and avid reader, and had more than 100 books at home, so she decided to sell some of them."

Along with her parents, Talia took about 100 books to school, including titles from the popular Geronimo Stilton and Diary Of A Wimpy Kid children's books series.

She priced them at $1 to $2. By 10.30am, all the books were sold.

"I had too many books and they were everywhere at home. So I decided to sell them for charity," said Talia, who now has about 30 books at home including the Harry Potter series she is currently reading.

Acting Minister for Education Ng Chee Meng, who visited the school on Wednesday and participated in some games, said: "Even at this young tender age, educators are partnering (the children) to give back some proceeds to society. This is very important in character building."

He added that he was heartened when he heard about what Talia had done, and it had reminded him of his childhood.

"I liked to read when I was a young boy as well," said Mr Ng, adding that he enjoyed the Hardy Boys and Famous Five series as a child.

Principal Koh said the school had taken steps to ensure that the celebration could go on if the haze worsened. It had moved the booths, which were supposed to be on the ground floor, to indoor halls and rooms.

"We wanted to make sure that no matter how bad the haze was, we could run the event because it was important to the children," he said.

"If it was cancelled, they would be very disappointed."