When I was younger I always dreamt of writing my own books. I was successful in putting together a 20-page book (with illustrations) about my favourite Barbie dolls, but alas, due to copyright issues this would never become a reality.
In junior high school, I started writing a book about fashion time travel in my favourite Harry Potter notebook, which resurfaced this year. I thought I had written half a book; it turned out I hadn’t even written half a chapter.
And finally, in senior high school, my friend Andrea and I were convinced we could make a cash cow from collating the emails we sent to each other daily, talking about our teen angst and which HSC subject was annoying us at the time. We soon gave up on that – why would we be writing about life when we could be living it?
A few years went by, and finally, I had something worth writing. I lived in Cambodia for five years, and successfully developed a registered NGO with a team of local staff and made myself redundant. Why? Because I realised that for organisations to be sustainable, they needed to be run by local staff, who are the subject matter experts and there for the long term.
I knew I had to share this message with the world, so I began writing a book in 2017. And, my friends, I am thrilled to let you know that this book will be published by Elephant House Press in 2019, with all proceeds supporting Human and Hope Association.
When Sally Hetherington was 25, she packed up all her belongings and bought a one-way ticket to Cambodia, determined to make a difference. But when she got there, the situation on the ground was grave. Sally had been told that the role she came to play in managing short-term volunteers was crucial to sustainable development. However, what she saw was disempowered staff, children with detachment issues, and an unhealthy ‘white saviour’ syndrome. Sally knew she had to make a big change.
So she started at the core, the community. Sally set about to develop a community centre with a team of Cambodians, with the end goal of making herself redundant. Sticking to her belief of local empowerment in a country filled with voluntourists was tough. Despite the countless obstacles she faced living in a community with a culture significantly different to hers, she was able to form insurmountable relationships and learn first-hand of the struggles of poverty faced by community members in the outskirts of rural Siem Reap.
This manifesto has five years of stories that will make you laugh, cry and challenge your preconceived beliefs about the best way to help people in developing countries. It is a must-read for those who want to make a positive change through ethical and sustainable development.
You can read more about my manifesto, It’s Not About Me, through the official website.