Friday, July 29, 2016

Guest Post: Elephants For Education

Last year we learned about a charity I have supported since 2012, Human and Hope Association in Siem Reap, Cambodia. This month Human and Hope made the transition to being entirely Khmer operated, and I recently had the chance to catch up with my friend, Sally, who successfully made herself redundant from her role.

This month Human and Hope have launched a new crowd funding campaign called Elephants For Education

Congratulations on finishing your role at Human and Hope! How do you feel?

I feel so proud of the achievements of my team, but if I am speaking honestly, I really do miss Human and Hope a lot. I keep comparing my departure from the organisation to how a parent must feel when their child leaves home!

Why was it important for you to make Human and Hope entirely Khmer run?

The reason I joined Human and Hope Association was to help the organisation and staff reach their full potential, then step back. Admittedly, I was na├»ve at the beginning and thought it would take a year. It has taken almost four years and a LOT of hard work. However, it was worth it as I truly believe that local operation of NGO’s is the way to move communities out of poverty.

The biggest reasons that we believe local organisations should be run by locals is because of empowerment and sustainability. We believe that local people are the subject matter experts, as they are the ones who know the country, culture and traditions best. By promoting team work amongst the locals, they can learn from each other and not become reliant on foreigners. Having volunteers come and go isn’t sustainable. What IS sustainable is training local staff, who can in turn, train more local staff as part of a succession plan.

Tell me about your new crowdfunding campaign, Elephants for Education?

This is something I am SUPER excited about! Our key project at Human and Hope is educating children between the ages of five and 18 so that they can break the cycle of poverty. In order to do something different to raise funds to educate our 150 students in 2017, we have launched a crowdfunding campaign titled Elephants for Education. By pledging funds, supporters can purchase their own stuffed elephants from just $25, with postage included in Australia!

These 10 different elephants are made by our graduated sewing students in Cambodia, so not only are you supporting the education of children with your purchase, you are also providing a fair wage to a Cambodian woman so she can support her family! Not only is each elephant super cute, but each one has their own name. For example, Bopha can provide a whole month’s English education to a child, and Amao Jr. can provide a month of clean drinking water to all their students!

Why is education in Cambodia so important?

Between 1975 and 1979, an estimated two million people (a quarter of the population at the time) were killed in Cambodia through starvation, torture, execution, disease and overwork under the ruling of the Khmer Rouge. Intellectuals were targeted, and as a result, Cambodia lost most of their educated population.

It has taken a long time to rebuild Cambodia, and although the education system has developed in leaps and bounds, there is still a strong lack of education and skills in our community that has led to a life of poverty for our villagers.

With poverty comes other social issues, such as lack of hygiene which results in increased illnesses, domestic violence, and child labour. We work directly with children and their families so that with our support they can understand the value of education and help to address these social issues. We want them to break the cycle of poverty so that the next generation don’t have to deal with the hardships that this generation does.

By educating our students we are empowering them to create sustainable futures for themselves.

To purchase an elephant for $25 with shipping included in Australia, visit Human and Hope’s crowdfunding campaign.

Make sure to follow them on Instagram (@humanandhope) for exclusive giveaways during the campaign!

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