Bringing aid to Cambodia

Acting principal Ross Robertson (left) and co-ordinator, teacher Rick Rexa (right) with Maroochydore High School Humanitarian Project group students before they head to Cambodia.
Acting principal Ross Robertson (left) and co-ordinator, teacher Rick Rexa (right) with Maroochydore High School Humanitarian Project group students before they head to Cambodia. Cade Mooney

WHILE we would all like to end global poverty and help those less fortunate in third-world countries, few of us actually put words into action and do something about it.

But a group of Year 11 and 12 students from Maroochydore High School are doing more than merely collecting donations and sending them to those countries in need.

They are experiencing one of those countries firsthand.

Fifteen students recently headed off on a 16-day life-changing excursion to Cambodia, determined to make a difference through the school's humanitarian project.

Each student had to raise $1500 to cover their travel expenses and donations.

Year 12 student Molly Blain is making her second journey with the group after taking up the offer last year.

The 16-year-old said she simply could not pass up the opportunity to return to Phnom Penh - the nation's capital.

"Originally I was going to go in Year 11 just so I could experience it," she said.

"Then in Year 12, I could focus on my studies.

"But going last year, (we) made such a close bond with the kids and all the people over there.

"When you leave, they all ask, 'When are you coming back?'

"You want to go back just to see them and experience it all again - it was so life changing."

The first 10 nights are to be spent at the Save the Children for Development Orphanage in Phnom Penh.

Molly said that at the first sight of the teenagers, the children of the orphanage were already opening their arms in welcome.

"The first time going into the orphanage all the children are in their uniforms ... they're all lining up along the driveway and they're all just so happy to see you," she said.

"We've never met them before and they're all just smiley faces, and they're so welcoming."

The students will spend time teaching English to children aged five to 18 and take them on excursions to local attractions.

"We take kids to the beach and we go to the temples," Molly said.

"It's educational (for us) as well as helping out those less fortunate. Seeing the joy a small trip to the beach can bring is so amazing."

Molly said the experience was "eye-opening", and the students would be amazed by how appreciative these children were of the simple things in life we take for granted, such as clean drinking water.

Each and every child had their own heart-breaking story of poverty or tragedy in their lives.

"Going over there you definitely see that you take so many things for granted," she said.

Following their stay at the orphanage, the students will travel to Siem Reap to work with Husk, a non-government organisation which focuses on working with poor villagers.

The organisation helps families get back on their feet by building compost toilets, planting rice fields and thatching walls to attach to houses.

Molly said last year, the group helped a widowed mother whose husband had died of malaria.

"While we were there, we planted rice fields for her so that provided her with a source of food," she said.

"We planted a hydroponic garden - another source of food or, if she wanted to, she could sell it and make a profit.

"Her house and everything she had in it, had been donated by them (Husk)."

If you'd also like to put your thoughts into action, visit



$20: Buys two fruit trees, soil and bamboo protection.

$35: Buys one rubbish bin and 12 months of rubbish collection.

$60: Buys one water filter.

$50: Buys materials to undertake basic house repairs such as fixing walls or a leaking roof.

$150: Buys one water pull pump.

$350: Buys a dual chamber toilet for a family.


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Topics:  cambodia charity education lifestyle maroochydore high school

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