Arden students recently returned from a life changing mission experience in Cambodia and Vietnam. A team of 42 committed Year 11 students and five staff visited Vietnam and Cambodia from 21st June – 5th July, 2014 spending a week in each country in an initiative called ‘The Extra Mile Project’. This is the seventh year that Arden has sent a mission team and an amazing $38,000 was raised to fund the project.
An enthusiastic Mrs Catherine Bradshaw, 2014 Mission Coordinator sees the main purpose of the trip as being to “equip and empower the future leaders of our country to become compassionate, responsible and transformational.” She commented: “As an educator, I am in a privileged position to impact the next generation for good. It is my heart’s desire to see these young people grow in their understanding and awareness of the world they live in. The world is smaller now than it ever was. We are connected to each other through social networking, internet and other media. We can see the immediate impact of war, disasters, famine and poverty. It is in our living rooms and status updates. The wonderful young people I teach have tremendous capacity to make real and lasting change in their world. And it starts here.”
The mission provided genuine and practical support to those in need, whilst educating Arden students about the important role they can play in making a difference in the world at a grass roots level. Key tasks undertaken while on mission included:
- Renovating classrooms in a primary school
- Visiting two orphanages where the students played with the children and The Sunshine Centre
- Building elevated houses for a village in Cambodia through the Tabitha Foundation – a major part of the mission work
- Planting mature mango trees in a primary and high school
Each student taking the trip in 2014 was asked to write the reasons they wanted to participate in The Extra Mile Project prior to leaving. The response was overwhelming. Every student wanted to make a difference; to physically do something to help others in need and to be a part of transforming the global community. Mitchell Howard, aged 16 years, from Ryde said he was taking the trip because “I want to be physically within these places, not just staring at an image on a television screen. I am positive this experience will influence my actions to help improve the world.” Rebekah Bradshaw, aged 17 years, also from Ryde said she was taking the trip because ‘I believe in practical assistance. I want to do something to help alleviate someone else’s pain.”
All Tabitha Foundation and Extra Mile Project workers are volunteers. The expenses of all Arden staff and student team members were all self-funded and costed approximately $3,800 per person. Volunteers paid for every aspect of the trip including immunisations, clothing, visas, air fares and expenses. That way 100% of donations are directed towards community projects.
Fundraising is always a big part of the pre-tour preparations as it enables the team to make the maximum difference possible to the people they are visiting. In 2014 the students raised $38,000 to fund the projects. The key fundraiser was requests for donations. One way the Arden students achieved this was through the Sponsor a Plank initiative whereby donors sponsored planks at $25 each; with the planks then combined to make each house. In addition, the student team also organised a Camboogie (disco), car wash, BBQ’s and other initiatives such as ‘Mystery Mondays’ at the school where for a number of weeks there was a different activity for students to participate in for a gold coin donation.