Like her mum, Sydney schoolgirl Arshnoor Bawa Kaur is rarely seen without a smile.

It's a remarkable feat, given the 5-year-old has endured more tragedy and hardship in her short life than many people do in a lifetime.

"She's such a happy, bubbly little thing with a great sense of humour and fun," her teacher Allison Dixon says.

"Just like her mum, her mum was always smiling, which was just amazing, she was just happy, a happy person."


Arshnoor's mother Manjit first noticed a lump in her breast when she was breastfeeding her newborn daughter in 2012.

When she mentioned it to her doctor, it was dismissed as normal post-birth breast tissue changes.

But two years later, it was still there. Manjit received the devastating news she had cancer.

It was a devastating diagnosis that left the loving mum fearing for the future of her young daughter. For much of Arshnoor's life, it had just been the two of them.

Manjit left her marriage soon after her daughter was born and was living in temporary housing.

But when the 42-year-old mum finally succumbed to cancer earlier this year - just weeks after Arshnoor started school - the service could no longer provide housing for the five-year-old school girl.

Manjit's elderly mother and two brothers flew from India to temporarily care for the little girl. And Manjit's sister, Sanjin, who is studying nursing in New Zealand began the process of attempting to have her visa transferred to Australia.

Manjit and Arshnoor. The 42-year-old terminal cancer patient desperately hoped to survive to see her daughter start school. Photo / Gofundme
Manjit and Arshnoor. The 42-year-old terminal cancer patient desperately hoped to survive to see her daughter start school. Photo / Gofundme

Arshnoor's kind-hearted teacher at Brookvale Primary School, Mrs Dixon stepped in to start a crowd-funding campaign to enable the little girl's family to pay rent while awaiting the arrival of her aunt.

She wrote that the story, "breaks my heart".

"Every time I look at her, I just want to cry and cry, she's five years old and has just lost her mum and now you have no home," Mrs Dixon said.

She said Arshnoor's mum's greatest wish was that her little girl - an Australian citizen - would be cared for by her sister in Australia, so she could stay at the school on Sydney's northern beaches.

"We met Arshnoor last year when she came for school orientation and we were contacted by her carer saying her mother was terminal and she was hoping to still be around when she came to school," Mrs Dixon said.

"Mum was very sick but when Arshnoor started school, mum came in beaming, smiling, happy, she was such a lovely woman.

"But then two or three weeks after school started, she got really sick and needed to go to hospital.

"She wanted to be well enough to start her daughter at school and see her settled and happy, she's such a cute, gorgeous little girl.

"We decided to give her an award in the first couple of weeks, so her mum could see she was settled and doing well."

Dixon established a GoFundMe account to help Arshnoor and has been overwhelmed by the response, particularly from the school community.

So far, it has raised more than $17,000.

Dixon said in a further complicating factor, Arshnoor, an Australian citizen, was born with a heart defect that requires surgery later this year.

"They (her family) were thinking of taking her back to India, but she can't go anywhere now, because she needs to have her heart operation soon," Mrs Dixon said.

"We sent out a message through our school app just saying Manjit had passed away and later on, we sent one saying, if anyone can help with accommodation and we were just overwhelmed," she said.

"It's been amazing, we just have a great, really close, caring community, people have been paying for her school uniforms, paying for her lunches, parents at our school have been donating money to help Arshnoor, it's just heartwarming," she said.

"I've transferred some (of the money) to the family for bond and rent and all of those things.

"It's such a tragic thing but it does bring out the best in people."

To help Arshnoor, go to