Hometown: Sydney, Australia
Life Project Cambodia Video
Why should you be the IVHQ volunteer of the year?
In 2012, I spent several months volunteering in Cambodia with IVHQ and like many volunteers, that experience changed my life. I witnessed poverty on a scale that I had never seen before and it wasn’t something I could walk away from. After my volunteer placement, I returned to Australia energised and inspired to create a plan of action to help the people of Cambodia; and after 12 months of research, planning, and fundraising, Life Project Cambodia was born.
In 2013, I moved to Siem Reap in north-western Cambodia to start Life Project Cambodia and I now work with a local Cambodian team to develop and expand our projects and initiatives. We work in both Siem Reap city, and also in Chi Kreng district; an impoverished rural district of Siem Reap province that lacks access to basic services including clean drinking water, sanitation, quality education, healthcare, and electricity.
Since starting in 2013, Life Project Cambodia has created a Student Sponsorship program, Bicycle Program, and various fundraising initiatives in Australia that support the local Cambodian economy and create jobs for disadvantaged Cambodian women. In total, we now have 9 students on our sponsorship program and we’ve donated more than 50 bicycles to families without transport.
How will you use the award money for your project?
Our Student House is located in Siem Reap and can accommodate up to 14 live-in students and assist up to 30 outreach students. Named after Cambodia’s national flower, the Rumdul flower, Rumdul House is designed to assist disadvantaged children and youth who would otherwise have limited access to education, healthcare, food and nutrition, and sports and arts initiatives. If I were to win the 2014 IVHQ Volunteer of the Year award, I would allocate the award money to our Student House project to kick-start start new initiatives that will benefit our students:
US$5,000 - Computer Lab, Arts Room and Vegetable Garden
A Computer Lab would allow us to introduce our students to the internet and IT technologies, otherwise unavailable, to enhance their academic results and preparation for higher education. An Arts Room would encourage creative learning and self-expression in students. We believe that art plays a key role in child development, including developmental benefits such as motor skills, improved academic performance, decision making, visual learning, creativity, and cultural awareness (Reading, painting, drawing, music, drama, and dance). A Vegetable Garden would enhance knowledge of agriculture, nature, the environment, and nutrition in all of our students .
US$3,000 - Computer Lab
US$2,000 - Arts Room and Vegetable Garden
US$1,000 - Vegetable Garden
How will you measure the success of using the award money at your project?
We will measure the success based on how well each new initiative impacts our students. As all initiatives include education-based activities designed to improve the overall academic and personal development of our students, we’ll be able to measure the success based on the development of our students.
How will you ensure the difference you make through investing the award money is sustainable in the long term?
I believe that education is more than just reading, writing, and arithmetic; it is one of the most important investments we can make in our children and it’s critical in reducing poverty and inequality. Each of our initiatives that have been flagged for funding from the IVHQ award are sustainable in the long-term as they need minimal ongoing funding from our NGO to continue; and our vegetable garden will actually reduce the overall cost of food at the Student House. Our Student Sponsorship program funds the ongoing education of our students, thanks to international sponsors, and it will ensure the continuation of the Student House project.
What is your long-term vision for this project?
To see our Student House prosper and provide new opportunities to our students that would be otherwise unavailable. We offer assistance to students in primary school, secondary school, high school and university; and when we see our first student graduate from university, or complete vocational training and enter the workforce – that will be a very special day!