Over the next few weeks, in the lead up to the Charity Dinner on Friday 21st April, Ali Talbot will be looking back at the communities who benefited from our fundraising last year.
About Asia Schools: Siem Reap
Last year during Trips Week, four teachers and 34 students travelled to Siem Reap to see how our fundraising had impacted local communities there.
Our project began when Miss Battle and I initially visited Cambodia in February 2016. There we met with About Asia Schools, a non-profit organisation supporting the education of over 53,000 children across a network of 110 community schools around Siem Reap. As children only go to school for half a day in Cambodia, the village community school is hugely important in extending their education and providing a wider selection of subjects, such as the Arts, which are largely neglected in Cambodian schools. We visited the two schools which we had been partnered with, located about an hour’s drive out of Siem Reap into the countryside of Cambodia where houses are made of wood, roads are made of mud and dreams are made with the help of community schools.
Our project involved finding out how we could best help the schools, raising the money to honour our promises and visiting the schools to see the results of our donations and to expose our students to life in deepest rural Cambodia, a side of this beautiful country which tourists rarely see.
Through events such as the Charity Dinner and a Silent Art Auction at the MAD Show, students raised enough money to double the size of one community school and fund the building of a toilet at both schools. Please take a moment to look at the photos. The extended school can now house more students, especially during the rainy season, and the impact of having a toilet is appreciated by everyone, especially the girls, who are often reluctant to attend school when there are no toilet facilities. Not having a toilet at school was hard for our students and staff to even imagine!
The main focus of our journey to Cambodia was to give our students the experience of what it means to volunteer and every day our students spent 4 hours at the schools, delivering arts and crafts, sports and music activities. To help them appreciate the context in which they were working, we also explored the culture and history of Cambodia, through temple visits, a cycle tour, cooking classes, and workshops on the challenges of volunteering in Cambodia. The workshops were delivered by Ayana Journeys, a travel company run by former teachers who are trying to encourage the tourism business to become more socially responsible and empower travellers with the skills to think more critically about the ways in which they travel. Their workshop on ethical volunteering was one of the most eye-opening experiences of the trip for students and staff alike.
Although we are not running a trip to Siem Reap in Trips Week this year, with your generous support at events such as Charity Dinner we hope to be able continue this partnership with About Asia Schools and continue to have an impact on these rural communities.
If you wish to know more about the organisations mentioned here, please go to https://www.aboutasiaschools.org and http://ayanajourneys.com/consulting.
Click here for this week's full issue - 10th March 2017