26 May 2016

Image of Cambodia Calls for Intrepid Volunteer Adventurers

One of the core aims of our Enrichment Programme is to encourage voluntary work, in whatever capacity, but some opportunities can be more extreme than others. None more so that what ten of our students and one teacher have signed up for this summer.

When Learning Support Assistant and Well-Being Coach, Johanne Male, and her college team step off the plane 6,200 miles away in Cambodia, they’ll be greeted by the country’s wet season. Huge downpours are accompanied by equally huge temperatures plus excessive humidity, and that trend will continue for the entirety of their four week stay starting on 11th July.

They’ll be in the Far East as part of Camps International – a volunteering organisation with affiliations throughout Africa, Asia and South America that offer the chance to make a real difference to communities within those continents. They are just one of many groups and companies that the Enrichment department liaise with each year to visit the college and enlist willing volunteers for life-defining opportunities.

Johanne and our ten Sixth Form College volunteers, plus one former student who left last year, will join fellow recruits from Nottingham Bluecoat Academy and make up ‘Team Isana’ as the travel east to the Indochina peninsula. Each student has to raise the formidable sum of £3,700 just to travel with Team Isana and offer their help to those in need, and you can still help them with that! (Please see bottom of the story.)

The team will be dividing their time between two camps in the Cambodian jungle, getting stuck into a variety of projects at both Camp Beng Mealea and Camp Beng Pae.

Cambodia is a country still in recovery since the unspeakably brutal rein of Pol Pot’s Khmer Rouge. The infamous graveyards of the ‘Killing Fields’ are the regime’s legacy of mass slaughter of their own population as well as those outside, and the suppression of education, both academic and practical, is still felt today.

Our volunteers will help lead the communities within these remote villages to build new school facilities, and to educate a new generation on agriculture and the rudiments of academia and sport, after their grandparents’ era was decimated, leaving their parents without the skills and guidance to pass on to their children.

Johanne said: “These people had to leave their homes and their societies with nothing. This is a place where you learn from your parents, and when the parents themselves have been denied the learning that they need, it’s their children’s generation that have really struggled to rebuild since the revolution in 1993; they’re having to learn from scratch.

“Our students will have to learn how to go back to basics very quickly, even when it comes to things like washing their own clothes by hand. There’s no way that they can carry a supply of clothes for four weeks over days of backpacking through jungle!”

Johanne explained that there are natural concerns within the student group, but she has been working with them to reduce any anxiety that they might have. The culture difference in a country that displays such vast wealth in some areas and the most extreme depravation in others is often difficult to comprehend, and is an issue that Johanne has been addressing.

She said: “I’ve been pointing out to students that they shouldn’t hand out money to those they meet. There needs to be a social system of learning in place and donations don’t help people benefit in the long term. The time that they are giving is ultimately more valuable, however difficult it might be to understand.

“This is part and parcel of the students learning that voluntary work isn’t just about turning up, it’s about helping other people prosper. Hopefully, when they come home, they’ll have the initiative to do it again and see things in a different light.”

Johanne and the ten students are taking part in the 15 mile Wirral Coastal Walk on Sunday 12th June in a last bid to raise money for their trip. If you’d like to help them on their way with this valuable cause and donate, please follow the link below:

The student volunteers are as follows: Madeleine Atherton, Hannah De Pauw, Faye Dean, Rachael Husselbury, Niamh Kennerdale, Dominique Mason, Jessica McDonald, William Mellor, Bethany Williams, Lucy Would.

To learn more about the Enrichment activities available to students at The Sixth Form College, click here.

Tags: Volunteer Enrichment Cambodia

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