sally hetherington

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Featured, Poverty Tourism, Voluntourism

Is giving direct aid a good thing or a bad thing?

A few years ago I was at a hospital about 60km from Siem Reap, Cambodia. My friend, a nurse, was working as an advisor there to build the capacity of the nursing staff. She became frustrated as the staff weren’t taking care of their equipment. When she raised the issue with them, they shrugged and responded, “Who cares? We will just get more donated.” Giving direct aid is a sensitive topic. In some cases, it can be effective, such as cash transfer programs. However, there  ...

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Featured

Five reasons to support THIS grassroots charity

It is easy to get overwhelmed when visiting Cambodia. Although the country has developed substantially over the past few years, there are still many people living below the poverty line, or just above it. That is where grassroots charities come in. Whether they provide university scholarships, food support, education or microfinance loans, they all claim to make a difference. There are a few grassroots charities that stand high above the rest, and one of them is Human and Hope Association  ...

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Why you should REALLY reconsider supporting voluntourism

My stance on voluntourism isn’t a popular one. Some people feel that I am discouraging them from helping people in developing countries. However, they couldn’t be more incorrect. I am encouraging people to help, but to do so in effective and well thought out ways.  You see, the voluntourism industry has continued to expand over the past few years, and it doesn’t seem to be slowing down. It is frightening to see that unskilled, 18 year olds are heading over to countries  ...

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Surviving the Khmer Rouge: A soldier’s story

On April 17th, 1975, the Khmer Rouge took hold of Cambodia. They wanted to transform Cambodia into a rural, classless society. They were starting at ‘year zero’. Money, free markets, normal schooling, private property, foreign clothing styles, religious practices, and traditional Khmer culture was abolished. Public schools, pagodas, mosques, churches, universities, shops and government buildings were shut or turned into prisons, stables, reeducation camps and granaries. Over the next four  ...

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Why you SHOULDN’T travel to SE Asia to build that house

Development is a complex issue. I don’t have all the answers, nor do I pretend to. However one thing I DO know, is that you shouldn’t be partaking in volunteer (or really, voluntourism) opportunities to travel to SE Asia to build a house for that ‘poor family’.  There are many organisations that offer for you to visit countries for a week or two, immerse yourself in the culture, and partake in voluntourism to build a house. While it may seem like a brilliant  ...

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Three reasons why you shouldn’t buy from street children

“Ten postcards for one dollar. One, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine, ten”. The young girl at Ta Prohm temple showed the postcards she was holding to the tourist waiting in the tuk-tuk beside her. “No,” he answered. “I need money, you buy 10 for one dollar,” she persisted. The man kept saying no. The girl stayed firmly planted. Finally, the man gave in. “If I give you one dollar, will you leave me alone?” Watching all this unfold, I finally decided to say something. “It isn’t  ...

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Cambodia, Featured, Poverty Tourism, Voluntourism

So you want to volunteer to teach in a developing country

It is great that you have the urge to help, but before you jump online and book your flights, stop and ask yourself the following questions. Am I qualified? Firstly, are you a qualified teacher? Many people who visit Cambodia to ‘teach’ are unqualified teenagers or young adults who are still learning themselves. Would you want your child to learn from someone who wasn’t qualified to teach; who didn’t possess the necessary skills to control a class; who may be so  ...

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Want to visit a public school when in South East Asia? Think again.

You know what really ticks me off? When I come across tourists visiting public schools in Cambodia. They interrupt classes, make students pose for photos and pretty much act all high and mighty. In addition to this, many give out presents. By providing children with presents, they are creating a ‘normal’ image for this kind of behaviour. It shouldn’t be normal. Would you go to a school in Australia and start handing out presents to kids you don’t know? No. The police  ...

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Developing countries, Featured

What should you look for when donating to NGO’s?

Recently Human and Hope Association received a generous donation from a fan group on behalf of two of South Korea’s biggest stars. It actually got a shout out from those two celebrities and hundreds of thousands of likes and shares. It was the best publicity we had received in 5+ years of operation. I was really impressed with this fan group, as they are uniting together with a common interest, and using it to help those less fortunate. We were chosen as their initial charity, and  ...

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