A team of 39 Year 11 students and five staff recently returned from their Cambodia/Vietnam mission in the June/July 2017 school holidays.
Known as the Extra Mile Project, the program involved the team building and renovating school facilities for villagers and visiting and supporting a number of local charities in both countries.
To support the program, team members organised a series of school fundraising activities and raised close to $26,000. All monies were directed to the building projects and charities supported on the tour as participating students and staff covered their own travel costs. Fundraising activities including a school disco, affectionally known as Camboogie, movie night, BBQs, car washes, various goods sales, initiatives organised by each of the three School Houses and a Twilight Music Festival.
The funds raised enabled Arden to undertake the following projects and donate money to these charities:
- Renovated a school in the Mekong Delta, Vietnam – this involved painting the building both inside and out, cleaning the toilet block and laying tiles in two classrooms
- Purchased stationery supplies for students at the same school
- Donated to Sunshine Cambodia – an organisation that works with children, young people and families in the slums of Phnom Penh
- Donated to an orphanage for disabled children in Vietnam, which will be used for equipment for the children as part of their occupational and physiotherapy
- Donated to an English language school in Siem Reap, Cambodia for school resources
- Built two school classrooms in a rural school near Siem Reap, Cambodia – Arden helped raise the frame, built and painted all the bamboo lattice screening and mixed the cement for the floor, we also donated money towards furniture for the school
- Supplied 600kg of rice to villagers in need
- Planted over 100 mango trees for 10 poor rural families to help provide them with the means of creating an income
- Donated to the Cambodian Women’s Crisis Centre – an organisation that works to protect women and children from domestic violence, sexual assault and human trafficking.
Mrs Rebecca Hall, Arden’s 2017 Cambodia and Vietnam Mission Coordinator shared: “The Extra Mile Project has been a major School service activity for the past nine years and aligns with Arden’s Vision and Mission of providing educational opportunities to develop confident, capable global citizens who will have the experiences and skills as graduates to help transform the communities in which they will live and work in the future. Rural and disadvantaged communities in Cambodia and Vietnam benefit greatly from the building works we undertake and the money donated to fund small businesses and charities aimed at protecting and educating some of the most disadvantaged people in their communities.”
Mrs Rebecca Hall continued: “Students who participated have described how they developed a greater appreciation for their own life circumstances, for the community in which they live and the service opportunities available to them as young Australian citizens. They also reflected positively on the personal connections they had made with the children and the families in the communities where we worked and the joy they experienced meeting these people and sharing in their lives.”
Emma Davies (Year 11) shared: “I enjoyed working at the English language school because it gave me an opportunity to connect with and really help the kids on a personal level”. Emma also felt that “it felt very rewarding to do little things for people such as purchase rice for struggling families in the local community”. While Bethany Groenestyn (Year 11) commented: “I loved the school renovation in Cambodia as I felt that we accomplished so much and it was good to see everyone working together.”