Volunteer of the Year Awards Recipient - Vin Kebblewhite
In 2012, IVHQ volunteer Vin Kebblewhite embarked on a volunteer experience that would change his life. Vin tells us, “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.”
Vin now lives and works full-time in Siem Reap alongside a local team, and since its inception, Project Life Cambodia has already made a significant impact. “Since starting in 2013, we’ve 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”, Vin shares.
In recognition of his inspiring efforts, Vin placed 4th in the IVHQ Volunteer of the Year Awards in 2014, and was awarded US$1000 from the IVHQ Fund to develop a sustainable community vegetable garden at Project Life Cambodia’s ‘Rumdul House’, which currently educates up to 30 students.
Vin explains, “Our vegetable garden will introduce farming knowledge and techniques to our students, helping them understand where their food comes from and potentially stimulate new interests in agriculture and botany. Excess produce from the vegetable garden, if any, will be given to our student’s families as part of our monthly family assistance.”
Vin and his team started by removing large sections of overgrown bamboo from the fence line of Rumdul House, and relocating the tropical plants to create a new tropical garden.
Next up, retaining walls were constructed and the area was filled and levelled to create a suitable flat space for the vegetable garden. French drains were also installed to ensure that all excess water is directed to the newly formed tropical garden.
Finally the raised garden beds were constructed and teated ready for soil, seedlings and insect netting.
From here, Vin explains his goals for the project: “This is an education-based activity designed to improve the overall academic and personal development of our students; the fact that we’ll be producing some great produce along the way is a bonus. 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.”
“Our vegetable garden project is sustainable in the long-term as it requires minimal ongoing funding from us beyond the IVHQ funding grant, and will actually reduce our overall food cost at the Student House. The first crops will be planted shortly and we’re excited to see our student’s knowledge grow as our garden grows!”
If you’re interested in volunteering in Cambodia, learn more about our volunteer opportunities in Cambodia here.