- Funding to secure a permanent space.
- Funds to cover the cost of rent and maintenance.
- Donations to upgrade the Montessori materials.
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Redfern is home to an urban indigenous community. The community faces many challenges including drug and alcohol abuse, violence, rioting and social disadvantage. In 1998 Barbara Stephen established the Gamarada Redfern Montessori Learning Centre in an effort to support these disadvantaged children. She now lives with the locals and has the trust and respect of the Aboriginal community.
Gamarada faced an additional challenge in 2006 when the Redfern Public School closed its doors to the various community groups and the school was forced to find a new premises. It has now relocated to another public school, but is in need of a permanent space.
The program continues to provide valuable assistance to the most disadvantaged families in the area and in addition to providing a Montessori experience; the families often require extra help. This could be in the form of transportation, support in transitioning to the elementary school and sometimes babysitting in emergency situations.
Many well-intentioned people have come through the area offering to help, but Barbara is a part of the community and in 2003 was awarded “Citizen of the Year” by the South Sydney Council for her tireless contribution not only to local early childhood education, but also to the community at large.
By serving the youngest Aboriginal children in Redfern, she hopes to forever change this cycle of violence and social disadvantage.
Trained Montessorians are encouraged to volunteer.