This year saw another successful and life-changing trip to Cambodia to work with the Tabitha Foundation to work with communities in need. Student volunteer their time and resources to help complete homes for families who graduate from the Tabitha Saving Program. The end goal of the Tabitha Foundation is to help Cambodian families become self-sufficient and work their way out of poverty.
Students saw how many of the Tabitha Cambodia integrated community development programmes work as a means make people self-sufficient. Tabitha’s main activity is the Savings Program (Family Partnerships) which families graduate from five to seven years, after which they have enough food, clean water, shelter and a sustainable source of income.
Trips are usually fun but this was far more than that, or not even that, it was deeply meaningful. Full to the brim with purpose and truly eye-opening; especially for those who had not before been witness to such rural and simple ways of living. As we moved from the fumy and bustling energy of Phnom Penh into the rural village life of Prek Tasaothe local life changed. Passing the morning market rituals as we entered the village, where we would work gave us some insight as to what to expect; a suggestion of the hand-to-mouth way of living that we would observe. What the Tabitha organisation does is incredible. They offer families help in saving for themselves, and in doing so, helping them regain ownership of their lives. In the words of Tabitha it is a big shift away from ‘I am not worthy,’ the hangover from the atrocities of the Khmer Rouge regime, and transforming the mentality into one fully focused on the local people feeling capable and safe.
Our TES students made us proud every day. They were all of school values and more; working together as if they were a family; each and every person pulling their weight. Knocking in nails was not a patch on the difficulties that the families in the village experience day-to-day and we all quietly acknowledged this through diligent work. A game of “duck duck goose” at the end of our time in the village was a reminder of what is really important – people and love. We played, laughed, chased each other in circles, and for just a moment differences were dissolved. Seeing the joy radiating from the children in the village was a great reminder to be grateful for what we have and enjoy life. I am certain this is an experience that the students and teachers involved in will never forget.
A huge thank you to everyone at TES who year after year facilitates this very important experience for our students.