Children of Cambodia Christmas Project

October 28, 2013 – 9:00 am
ACULibrary

This is a long post, but a very worthy post, so sit back, read and enjoy the photos and news ūüôā

The library recently donated 100 ACU Library Growing Greener bags to the Children of Cambodia Christmas Project.

Below is a picture of Freya Bruce, Campus Librarian at Brisbane Library with Irene Dewsbery who collected the bags.

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What’s the ‘Children of Cambodia’?

This is an email we recieved from Chloe Rickard, on of the founders of the Children of Cambodia charity. The photos were also provided by Chloe.

“I am one of the co-founders of Children of Cambodia, a charity which was set up to help support a free English school in Cambodia. I have received information from Irene Dewsbery that you have very generously decided to donate library bags to the students as part of our Christmas Project – wow, this is so exciting! Thank you so much for your support!

Irene mentioned that you would also love some more information about the school as well as some photos. I am more than happy to provide this.

The school is situated in a very small village, about an hour outside of Phnom Penh. It attracts students from villages all around the area, with some students walking kilometres to attend every day.  All students who attend the school are considered as being affected by poverty, with a group identified as living in extreme poverty.

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In Cambodia, students attend public school for half a day (either in the morning or the afternoon, depending on what their parents have decided on), from Monday – Saturday. This particular school offers the kids free English education for the half day that they are not in public school (so basically there is a morning cohort and a different afternoon cohort). The school has also become a ‘hub’ of the community – providing rice to families who are considered to live in extreme poverty and often helping resolve issues that arise between the locals.

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It employs local staff members and aims to attract English-speaking volunteers to compliment and enrich the learning experience for the students.

Myself, Drew Rickard and Kelsie Davidson first travelled to Cambodia to volunteer at the school in December 2011. We immediately felt a connection to the students, the co-ordinators and the country. We spent only a few weeks there, but knew that we would be back and therefore kept in contact with the co-ordinators and teachers.

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In the middle of 2012, after sharing our experiences with anyone who would listen, we had all reached a point where we knew we had to continue helping them further. We had become so passionate about the intentions of the school and the children that they were helping as well as bringing the situation in Cambodia to the attention of others.

As Kelsie and I were full-time students at USQ and Drew worked full-time, we knew that another visit was not really on the cards just yet. So, we looked into founding a short-term charity with another friend, Sylvie Wimmer (it had to be short-term as Drew and I were set to move to Thailand in 2013, this is where we are now).  After registering with the Office of Fair Trading, we hit the ground running with events and activities to support the kids.

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We are very proud of the charity. We hosted several trivia nights in Toowoomba and Kingaroy, a music gig night, chocolate drives, garage sale fundraisers and bake sales to raise money. We also co-ordinated a letter writing activity where all students received a letter from people in Australia (from Brisbane, Kingaroy, Toowoomba and Pittsworth, our local areas).

We ran the charity for about 6 or 7 months and in that time managed to raise $9 000! We had initially aimed for $5 000, so we were very excited with this number.

The organisation in Cambodia actually runs two schools and a childcare centre, so though we had aimed to assist ‘our school’, the money raised supported the students in all three locations (the other school and childcare centre are located in slum areas within Phnom Penh and without them there the kids would likely have no other choice but to work in the slums with their parents). We had focussed, and indeed still focus, on the school outside of Phnom Penh as we found that it attracted less volunteers as it is a difficult journey to take each day.

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During our fundraising efforts, over Christmas in 2012, Drew and I decided that we could not wait any longer. We booked a trip to the school to again volunteer and give what we had raised by that point to the school, in person.

We have many wonderful memories and stories about the kids at the school and we feel that we are forever connected to their cause. We kept the charity Facebook page going so that we could keep sharing information about the school and the country. However, with Christmas quickly approaching us again, we thought it would be a fantastic opportunity to again connect the public with the school.

I have attached some of our photos from the school to this email. I will also be communicating with Kimlay Lim today to organise a letter of appreciation to forward along to you.

I hope that we will be able to get some photos of their Christmas Day celebrations and of the students with their gifts. I will post them on our Facebook page when I do and will email them across to you.

Again, we thank you so much for your support…

Kind regards,

Chloe Rickard”

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