Trip changes world view
It's amazing how little some people in the world have to get by on.
A group from St Heliers Church and Community Centre went to Cambodia recently to see for themselves the need in rural communities there.
What's really inspiring is that despite the hardships faced by many, they still have a positive outlook on life, Rev Stan Stewart says.
He leads a committee tasked with organising trips to projects sponsored by the church community in Asia every second year.
"My aim in encouraging these groups to go is to change their mental horizon so that for the rest of their lives they think of the world as a spectrum from the very poor to the fortunate," he says.
For several years the church community made trips to Thailand and fundraised to help build a hostel for children and young people which provides for education and living facilities.
That initiative no longer requires the church's help so the committee chose to support a World Vision project in Cambodia.
The 15 people who travelled there in January included church members as well as four intermediate teachers from Churchill Park School.
During the 11-day trip the group visited rural projects in the southwestern province of Takeo.
The World Vision team aims to make villages self-sufficient by educating leaders who then teach others about sanitation and food nutrition, church member Andy Picot says.
"There's just a real lack of resources. It's eye-opening to see people living like that," he says.
Church members are signing up to sponsor children from the villages at a cost of $45 per month.
Churchill Park School is also looking at sponsoring two children.
Collectively the school and church hope to sponsor 30 people. The money will benefit not only the family of each child but the whole community, Mr Picot says.
Sharyn O'Brien is one of the Churchill Park School intermediate teachers who travelled with the group. She was impressed by how well the projects were organised by World Vision.
"We could see a really strong alliance with the way World Vision set out their strategic plans and their achievement objectives, which is exactly the way a school [in New Zealand] operates."
Staff from the charity have provided sanitation blocks and water filters for drinking water at a high school there, but educational resources are still lacking, Ms O'Brien says.
There was only one computer in the school which was kept in the principal's office and wasn't connected to the internet.
East And Bays Courier