What does it look like to contribute to education projects overseas?
A diverse mix of twelve volunteers joined THISWORLDEXISTS in assisting the Boeung Kunchung Primary School in Koh Kong Province, Cambodia. This was the first volunteer group to kick off Boeung Kunchung’s education project, making considerable progress during the visit.
To ensure the school would receive the right implementations, our contact Vuthi and the headmasters laid out their expectations of what they wanted to achieve during our visit. Communication between the volunteers, the school stakeholders and the wider community is an important step in solving any issues or misunderstandings. Being a well-respected member of the community and school, Vuthi acted as a crucial player in developing THISWORLDEXISTS’ projects in Cambodia.
Vuthi went far and beyond to provide us with tools and local knowledge in order to progress in our work. His smiling face was an encouragement to work harder under the hot and humid weather conditions! The eagerness of the village children to help us paint, scrape, dig and clean demonstrated the community’s acceptance of our presence.
Getting down to business meant first employing skilled local workers to accelerate the school project. Prior to the group’s arrival, fundraised money went towards building a new sanitation block to improve health and hygiene within the school. Once we arrived, we began working on the building that would become the school’s new library. Builders assisted with bricklaying and guiding the direction of the library renovations.
The benefits of using skilled local labour in THISWORLDEXISTS projects are clear. Employing members of the community stimulates the local economy, and provides more localised employment opportunities for workers to remain in their communities. In a time where it is increasingly common to migrate in search of better employment opportunities, employing local skills and knowledge allows human capital to remain within the village, keeping families and rural communities together.
After tireless efforts from builders, school superiors, volunteers and the wider community, our project came to a close. This is temporary, however. Next year in September 2017, another volunteer group will be visiting the school to provide more support in developing buildings and their education programs. THISWORLDEXISTS will continue to support the Boeung Kunchung Primary School even when volunteers are not present. Fundraised money will go towards developing a teacher training program to improve teaching skills and the quality of education. This will not only give teachers professional development opportunities, but it will also improve the school’s education standards and, overall, create a reputable school that the community can be proud of.
By the end of the project, neighbors of the school who owned small businesses and cared for their families nearby, joined in on helping us to paint a mural on the wall of their new library. This mural was a symbolic gesture in celebrating what can be achieved when people unite to grow their community.
Would you like to get involved in our Cambodia projects in the future?
THISWORLDEXISTS will be returning to Cambodia in 2017 to continue our work and continue to explore this beautiful country. If you or someone you know would like to join us, we would love to share the experience with them.
Click on the picture below for more information on our upcoming trip.