At Hope for Justice Cambodia, specifically at Shine Career School, we do our best to let the girls we support get out into the world and understand their culture from different perspectives.
In February we posted a blog describing a community service trip where the students worked with a school in Takeo Province, which helped give the girls a healthy perspective on education and what it looks like in different parts of Cambodia.
They have since followed that up by doing presentations in front of the whole Shine Career School, touching on what they were impacted by and learned from this experience.
The girls spent a lot of time making these presentations, learning how to use PowerPoint and processing how they felt together from what they saw in Takeo Province and the education system there. They were moved by the experience and explained in their presentations how this trip helped them understand the needs of others.
Raising money to help supply children in this deprived school with much-needed supplies was a big moment for the Shine students.
Mani*, a student at Shine, said: “I can take them in my heart – when I first came to Hope for Justice I didn’t like the staff, but now that I understand and see the children over there, I realised the staff here work so hard for me. Now that I have helped these kids it has made me realise the kindness of the staff at Hope for Justice.”
As the girls worked to fundraise and then went out to help in a hands-on way, they all agreed it brought them unity because they were working towards the one same goal. It taught them the value of kindness and of confidence, and they felt empowered while asking for donations from staff. Another student, Sokah*, said: “We learned how to persuade people for good. It was the first time I advocated for others when asking for donations.”
Another value the girls said they learned was responsibility, as they were required to manage the supplies for the students at the school. They went through the whole process of choosing what to buy for the school and how to use their allocated budget to make sure they were helping each and every student. Through all of this they worked together to thank the staff via their presentations for the donations that they gave. The first presentation group said that although they had little themselves, they were glad to be able to support the children in the provincial school and help make them happy.
Hope for Justice storytelling and teaching intern, Amy Powell, accompanied the girls and noticed how much it affected them to step out of their comfort zones and into a different province. She said: “It was challenging for them to see what little resources the kids have compared to themselves. It was great to see how happy the girls were once they realised the impact it had on the children at the school!”
The community service experience helped the girls in many ways. It showed them how education varies across the country and taught them how people live in Takeo and that province’s history. It also broadened their scope for the future, opening them up to potential new career ideas.
Rathna*, one of the students at Shine said: “This helped me to stop thinking negatively about my current situation because it helped me realise that I am in a better situation than others. It helped me understand the hard work of Hope for Justice as an organisation because they work hard to make my future better. Everyone needs an education.”
*Survivors’ names changed for their protection
Words and photography: Annelise Blackwood