Learning Service – “No, Sorry” – What We Say to Foreign Volunteers
I was 23. It was my first time in Cambodia. I thought, “why not visit an orphanage?” I was disappointed. The children were out attending public school. All I saw was an empty playground and a mandatory donation form. I went back to Australia, determined to get back to Cambodia and have a second shot. The next year, I returned. I volunteered at a residential centre for former street children. I amassed several Facebook albums of photos, all featuring me with cute kids I didn’t know. I taught them the ‘hoedown throwdown’ from the Hannah Montana movie. They loved it. I didn’t do much else. I went back to Australia, determined to get back to Cambodia and have a third shot. The next year, I returned. This time, I was on a career break. I was going to call Siem Reap my home for the next 15 months. Continue reading..
How Dare She – I Dared To Question Who Could Change The World
As I drove out of the compound on my red and white Honda motorbike, I burst into tears. Those tears continued on my 30-minute drive home through potholes, flood water and sticky brown mud. As I walked through the battered, wooden door of my second story house, I sank to the floor and sobbed. It was over. I was now redundant. I had dedicated almost four years to the organisation. Four years of blood, sweat, dengue fever, pneumonia, constant gastro and tears. And it was worth every single hurdle. Every single setback. Every single sleepless night. 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..
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..
Wild Mountain Child – VOLUN-WHAT ISM?
Have you ever considered volunteering in a developing country? If it is for a short amount of time, this is called ‘voluntourism’, and is a billion-dollar industry. Although we commend your drive to want to help people, we are here to explain that voluntourism can do more harm than good, and there are more effective ways to help. Continue reading..