Global One Trip: Cambodia
January 17, 2015 By vgen
VGenners around the country are passionate about eradicating poverty. They’re plugged into issues of social injustice; they know apathy is the enemy of change and that our every-day actions can have real impact on how the rest of the world lives. But even for a VGen veteran, there’s a huge difference between understanding poverty as an abstract concept and bearing witness to the lives it impacts, families it fractures and opportunities it chokes.
VGen QLD State director Brooke is one such VGen veteran, having worked around issues of poverty, aid and development inequality, child labour and for some time. But she was hungering for a reality check of epic proportions, so in January she challenged herself with an immersive World Vision Global One trip to Cambodia.
World Vision Global One trips aren’t one size fits all voluntourism. They place emphasis on partnerships, conversations, learning and observing.
“The trip was a powerful reminder that aid is not about intervention or a hand-out but providing local people with the infrastructure so that they can use their skills to cement real changes in their communities”
The trip began with visits to the World Vision Cambodia office, to local NGOs working with Khmer youth and a tour to the Hope and Peace Area Development Program, where Brooke met with the local Khmer youth group who taught VGenners what youth campaigning looked like in Cambodia; inviting them to participate in a Youth Day, get their hands dirty cleaning up the community and watching a youth performance about child rights.
“It was so rewarding to connect with like-minded young people just like us, who are advocating so tirelessly for their communities”.
There’s no doubt that seeing poverty first-hand is confronting. But more provocative and powerful is seeing people fight back against it, to witness the hope that flourishes in the same soil as hardship. What people may lack in material wealth, they compensate for in their passion, ingenuity and innovation. Brooke speaks fondly of her meeting with 12 year old Donee, a former child labourer who has had the chance to return to school and reclaim his childhood.
“Donee inspires me to keep fighting every day. If he can face such challenges with so much hope, then the least I can do is use my voice to amplify his story”.
If Brooke has one piece of advice to aspiring change-makers, it’s this:
Be bold enough to rethink the way you see poverty and inequality, be brave enough to ask the hard questions and seek the right answers and be empowered by what you find out. “I’d recommend this experience to anyone hungry for change, and craving inspiration”.