Little Girls in Japan Sell Their Toys To Help Poor Cambodians


By John Maloy

July 6, 2006


In late May, two five-year-old girls from Japan held a sale of their own clothes and toys to raise money for mosquito nets in Cambodia.

Melissa Newsham and Yuka Kiuchi, former kindergarten classmates at Willowbrook International School in Tokyo, were able to collect $119.22, which they recently donated to The Cambodia Daily Mosquito Net Campaign.

Melissa’s mother, Kiyoko Newsham, wrote in an e-mail that the impetus for the sale came out of bi-monthly teaching sessions she holds for the two girls. Newsham said she uses these Sunday classes to teach the girls math and social studies in non-traditional ways.

She said she became aware of the mosquito net campaign through the children’s school, which has held fundraising events to aid Cambodia in the past.

According to Newsham, these fundraisers inspired the garage sale and she recognized it as a good opportunity to teach the girls about math and the value of money.

Additionally, Newsham said that she hoped that the children could “learn about Cambodia and how to be helpful to others.”

In preparation for the sale, the children studied Cambodian geography from a map and learned about the country from the Internet, she said.

The children then chose which of their toys and clothes they would part with for the sale. Newsham and the girls decided together on prices for each of the items as part of their math studies.

On the day of the sale, Melissa and Yuka took turns as the cashier for their customers. In just three hours they had racked up about $100 worth of sales—the counting of their earnings serving as one more practical math lesson.

Newsham said that it rained in Tokyo throughout the night before the garage sale, and the girls were worried it would have to be postponed. Luckily, the weather cleared up in time for the sale, but the downpour had brought with it an unexpected abundance of mosquitoes.

Newsham said Melissa and Yuka joked throughout the sale that they also needed a mosquito net.

Insects aside, Newsham said Melissa was so excited about the success of the sale that she called her father that evening and exclaimed, “Daddy, we can buy 23 mosquito nets!”