Doers Media – Building Hope in Cambodia
In 2011, while working in a financial sector job in Sydney, Australia, I became frustrated with statistics like how 1 in 4 Cambodians over the age of 15 are illiterate. I bought a one-way ticket to Cambodia and began working with Human and Hope Association at the end of 2012. At the time, HHA was open two hours an evening with volunteer Khmer staff, and sometimes foreigners, teaching English and Morality to village kids and teenagers at a fee of 50 cents to $1 a month. Amongst the murky green walls of the pagoda based school, I saw hope. Continue reading..
Lightmakers – Discovering the key to sustainability
I went to Cambodia for a holiday with my family in 2009. I had a great time exploring the country but my strongest memory from that trip was seeing children living in poverty. It made such an emotional impact on me that I returned the following year, this time as a volunteer. When I arrived I had a preconceived idea that volunteers were the solution for these poor people. With messages from TV ads in my mind of malnourished children in Africa being unable to survive without Western help, I naively believed that Cambodians couldn’t help themselves and needed us to help them, similar to the way in which a parent cares for a child. Continue reading..
Owning 30 – Why we need to think carefully about voluntourism
This month, after almost four years working for Human and Hope Association, a grassroots NGO in Siem Reap, Cambodia, I was made redundant. This was a bittersweet redundancy, as I had been working myself out of a job since day one, with the goal of handing the organisation over to a local team who have overcome poverty themselves. Continue reading..
The Very Zest – Why you should reconsider volunteering in Asia
When I was 24 I spent one-month volunteering in Cambodia. I thought I was a savior, that by teaching Cambodian children for a month that I was going to change their lives. I didn’t. Yet, I thought I did, so I returned the next year to take the position of Volunteer Coordinator at a local NGO (Non-Governmental Organization). During that time, I realized that having volunteers come and go is not going to change Cambodia. In fact, it more often than not does more harm than good. And as a former voluntourist AND someone who previously encouraged this behaviour, I hope you can trust my opinion and think about what I am about to say. Continue reading..
Temples and Markets – Empowering Cambodian women out of poverty, the Human and Hope way
Established in 2013, the sewing program at Human and Hope Association in Siem Reap, Cambodia, aimed to address the lack of skills and education in our community that kept villagers in poverty. It was initially set up with a fundraiser for my birthday; $1,500 managed to get us five sewing machines, some chairs, a cabinet and sewing supplies for the first semester. The next step wasn’t so easy. We had to go out into the community and convince women that studying for four months was worth their time, and we also had to convince their husbands and parents, too. Continue reading..
This Woman Can – Empowering Cambodian Women out of Poverty
I first met Chomrong in 2014. She was a student in the third intake of the sewing program at Human and Hope Association, a grassroots NGO in Siem Reap, Cambodia. Our team recruited her by venturing into her village four kilometres away from our community centre. Seeing the condition of her house, made from old wood, bamboo and palm leaves, they approached her to see if she wanted to study sewing. Continue reading…
Trusted Clothes – Providing Cambodian women with ‘sew many opportunities’
“I am so happy and hopeful for the future” said Chomrong when she graduated from our expert sewing class at Human and Hope Association in February 2015. A mother of three, Chomrong was forced to drop out of public school in grade eight due to poverty in her family. She began working as a builder, earning just 88 cents a day. She eventually got married and moved from her rural village to Siem Reap, home to the famous Angkor Wat. Continue reading..