Monday, August 29, 2016

A Special Message from SC Volunteer Martin Benda

400 Kilometers… 5 Days of Running… 2 Men… 1 Goal!
Our Volunteers Are Helping Sustainable Cambodia Raise Awareness and Funds
A Special Message from Sustainable Cambodia Volunteer Martin Benda -
Hello Sustainable Cambodia family! Well, after two years, I am back… and planning yet another charity challenge!
Some of you may remember that back in 2014 I decided to help Sustainable Cambodia raise awareness and funds by cycling 2000km from Singapore to Bangkok (newsletter download will start by clicking here). It was a great success! We raised funds whereby multiple projects were launched to improve school libraries, build school sheds and help poor families become more self-sufficient. My theme for that run was “Enable The Future Stars of Cambodia”.

My original inspiration for that run came from these powerful statistics:
  •  Between 2008 and 2012, pre-primary school participation was only 13.3%, and this percentage is as low as 1.5% in remote areas.
  • Just 1.6% of Cambodia's GDP is spent on education, which ranks around 170th in the world.
  •  In remote areas, poor families struggle with daily cost of living, which makes them make their children work in the field from an early age. This field work takes place at the expense of school attendance, a concept not widely understood, or eventually dropping out of school very early.
The question I asked myself was “What can I do?” The answer was the 2014 2000km bicycle ride.

The question I have asked myself now is “What’s next?” For some time I did not have the answer, but time allowed me to ponder, and recently a team of people have sprung to life who are excited about charity… and together we have created a team – the “Extra Mile for Hope” team - a team dedicated to helping Sustainable Cambodia raise awareness and funds. Say hello to Yohei, Daphna and Steven…
So, what is our charity challenge for 2016?

The Bali Run - Running 400km Around Bali

Yohei and I, Martin, are running 400km around the island of Bali (Indonesia) in December 2016. Each of us will cover one half of Bali which equals to 5 marathons in five days, for each of us, followed by a joint 3000m elevation gain climb to the volcano! It’s not an easy challenge! But with your support we can achieve this.

In this challenge, we are aiming to raise USD20,000 to help Sustainable Cambodia focus on what we call “future stars” – children who now have the opportunity to attend a wonderful school, the Kravanh Bright Future Center (KBFC), a grade school run by Sustainable Cambodia in the heart of rural Pursat Province.

KBFC provides a bright future for more than 240 students with classes in Khmer, English, math, physics, computers and chemistry. Imagine the opportunity this opens for students who otherwise would have to spend their youth working in the field, barefoot with absolutely no future prospects!

To help spread the word and make it easy for people to follow us and make a donation to this cause, we have developed a website, “Extra Mile for Hope” (click here to access the website) where you can see more details about this cause, our goal, team members and our Facebook updates.  

How Are We Going to Raise Funds?_________________________________________________________________________________

We believe everyone around us will be as excited about this challenge and the impact we can make as we are. For donations, 100% of all proceeds go directly to projects we will design with Sustainable Cambodia; any out of pocket expenses (travel, setting up our www and so forth) are born by us!

To raise funds, we are building two main streams: Firstly, we are hoping our digital footprint (our website, click here, Facebook Page, click here and this newsletter) will help us spread the word and attract some excited donors to help us achieve our goal.

Secondly, together with our employer, AIMIA (click here to access the website), we are organizing a total of 10 fundraising campaigns for our office where our team is based, Singapore.

These campaigns include lots of fun activities such as group runs, Money for Laughs, Friday lunches, sports tournaments and more! We are also working on positioning The Bali Run challenge as a global charity initiative under the umbrella of our employer, more to be announced soon. Besides monetary donations, we are also working on child sponsorship programs, where we hope to have Aimia offices adopting and sponsoring the children’s education. A full list of children looking for sponsors can be found here. We think this is super exciting!

As you can see, lots will be going on, so please stay tuned and check our website regularly – a place where you will be able to witness all the pre-journey preparations, our fundraising campaigns and, most importantly, where you can also make a donation.

To show my commitment and get others motivated, I have already put aside a donation worth of USD 1000 on my part – join me or beat that amount, I dare you!

How Much of a Difference Do You Want to Make?

For comparison, below you can see a table where you can determine how much of a difference you would like to make in the form of a donation. As an illustration, USD 1,000 can sponsor more than two full-time students at local Cambodian universities, for a full year, or USD 300 can provide a yearly sponsorship of full home & school support for one child!

Amount Donated (USD)
Example of Support Provided
A yearly sponsorship of full preschool support for 5 children
A yearly sponsorship of full primary or secondary school for one child
Development of a family’s own bio-sand filter as a source of clean water
A yearly sponsorship of full home & school support for one child
A yearly Cambodian University scholarship for a graduate from the   village schools
Fishponds and gardens developed to improve nutrition and eliminate hunger
Build a rainwater catchment system to benefit several village families
Agricultural stock provided to families to start up economic development
Water wells, bio-sand filters, agriculture materials and training provided to empower and transform an entire Cambodian village

In conclusion, we believe it is the responsibility of those fortunate enough to ensure that economic growth and prosperity is equally shared with those less fortunate. Little gestures of appreciation such as donations, spreading the word and being willing to help others can be translated to making Cambodia better and more involved in the international community.
Who knows, maybe, just maybe, our contribution will help find the future Steven Jobs, Albert Einstein or Arnold Schwarzenegger amongst the future stars of Cambodia, future leaders who will make Cambodia known on the world stage. Let’s find out by enabling these future stars!

If you are considering supporting our programs in Cambodia, you can visit our website to get more information about Donations.

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Meet our Partner: East-West Center

We are so proud to have such a wonderful partnership with East-West Center who have been helping Sustainable Cambodia's on its mission for quite a while.

East-West Center Fellows 
East-West Center promotes better relations and understanding among the people of the United States, Asia, and the Pacific through cooperative study, research, and dialogue. The Center serves as a resource for information and analysis on critical issues of common concern, bringing people together to exchange views, build expertise, and develop policy options. The Center is an independent, public, non-profit organization with funding from the U.S. government, and additional support provided by private agencies, individuals, foundations, corporations, and governments in the region.

At Sustainable Cambodia we welcomed six East-West Center Fellows last month, who conducted training courses for SC's students and staff

Here is a brief summary of the sessions we had: 

"Making a Future Workshop": SC's students participated on this workshop focused on conceptual teaching methods of: spatial reasoning, storytelling, brainstorming, discussion-based, active learning, and creativity. As part of the sessions, students brainstormed their top 10 community issues with resulted in issues such as: healthcare, clean water, access to technology, getting to and from school, learning foreign languages, underdeveloped roadways, extreme weather, litter and air pollution, urban migration and jobs at home.

Students brainstorming together
"Photography Workshop": All SC's Project Managers participated in the workshop focused on how to take better photographs, how to use the different functions of a camera, and different photography techniques such as "the rule of thirds". This was really helpful as Project Managers need to take photos and include them in the reports to our different donors and sponsors.

Photography practice  
"Marketing workshop": Marianne Dutkiewicz and Zelda Keller provided Marketing and Social Media recommendations to our Marketing team, in order to improve the online presence and engagement of Sustainable Cambodia. Topics covered in the workshop included blog creation, social media, newsletter creation, fundraising, and a 10 day Kickstarter campaign.   

"Enquirer based Learning Workshop": Youth Club students enjoyed participating in this workshop based on a new technique for problem-solving. By asking different questions, students learnt the importance of inquiry-based learning. After the East West Center Fellows introduced the topic, they asked students to brainstorm ideas and students spent over an hour putting their ideas on paper. The exercise engaged students, made them use spatial reasoning, and allowed them to demonstrate their language skills and artistic abilities.
Students presented their posters
Students and staff had a great time at the different workshops. Even the younger students learnt a lot and were interested in the activities.

Marianne with some of the younger students
At the end of the workshop, Fellow trainer Nina introduced everyone to a Hawaiian tradition: the Kokui Nut Lei. Nina explained that the "Lei" (a traditional Hawaiian necklace) is given on special occasions, such as ceremonies and school graduations. They are also given to create friendship and stronger relationships between people. A lovely way to summarize their engagement with the students.


We had some exciting days with the East-West Center Fellows, and students were very happy about the new concepts they learnt and were excited to put all into practice. SC's staff members that participated in the different training, were grateful for all the new things they learnt too.

EWC Fellows, students and staff 

Thanks, East-West Center, for choosing SC again to empower our staff and students. We have learned a lot! We are looking forward to your next visit to Pursat.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Nanyang Technological University (NTU) Hearts Project

Hearts Project
With the great help from our supporters, donors and friends, thousands of village families and students have changed their lives for the better. The greatest news is, that just last month, SC welcomed a group of students come from Singapore that made a huge difference in remote rural areas in Cambodia. Their project is called ‘Nanyang Technological University (NTU) Hearts Project 2015’!
NTU Students and SC Teacher
Through Hearts Project 2015, NTU students spread love and kindness to children in Pursat (Cambodia). Hearts Project 2015 is a Youth Expedition Project (YEP) under the National Youth Council (NYC). In December 2015, a team of 18 undergraduate university students who hailed from Singapore, embarked on their exiting journey to Pursat. Hearts Project 2015 is in its 6th year running and works hand-in-hand with their partnered non-profit organization, Sustainable Cambodia, in the hope of enhancing the lives of people living in remote rural areas, particularly children. SC believes in Caring and Sharing through acts of kindness and that is why they were happy to welcome the team who hand-crafted lots of love and generosity while they were on their visit.  SC is able to be involved in all of these meaningful projects only because of the continuous support from the World’s Best Fans like you! The NTU undergraduates immersed themselves in a number of activities with approximately 1000 children from all three SC schools.
Kim the team leader of NTU on the left

The projects included an education and community development program, covering areas such as teaching the kids about hygiene and sanitation and also giving English, Science and computer classes. They also gave guidance to students on how to research scholarships for both Cambodian and overseer’s universities. Some of the community development activities included, planting vegetables, playing sports, litter management, installing fences for the chicken cages and home visits to the children’s families. The traditional food exchange experience was also enjoyed by both the students and the kids from SC. 
NTU Students with SC Teachers and Students
Some of the culinary delights on the menu for the contingent from Singapore were the cultural dishes of Cambodia and the children also had an opportunity to taste some foods that the undergraduates brought from their home city. It was really heartwarming to see the children delighting in the immense contribution that this team made for the duration of their visit to Pursat.

Teachers Change Lives!

40 years ago the Education system in Cambodia was destroyed. Today, the country continues a slow process of recovery following decades of war and the most brutal and devastating episode in their history – the Khmer Rouge regime. Cambodians are rebuilding their economy and hoping to thrive once again. The children of Cambodia now have access to Government funded schools, however state school teachers often teach only half of the curriculum in class and the other half is done through private tuition.

Many students cannot afford these private classes so they don't receive the quality education they need and deserve. Sustainable Cambodia provides free education to Cambodian children to supplement what the state school offers. These classes ensures that students receive an education that they can benefit from. Last Month we did a #TeachersChangeLives campaign to honor our staff by raising money to improve the quality of our Education Programs. With the great help from our supporters, we exceeded our goal and raised more than $16,000!  The funds will be used for training, mentoring, and offering fair salaries to our teachers, who in turn will contribute greatly to the education of 1,500 Sustainable Cambodia students.

English Teacher, Som Chanra
 "The use of visual aids in a learning environment helps the teacher to become more effective in their teaching methods and also, teachers should be provided with training on helpful materials, strategies or styles for use in the classroom," Som Chanra SC English Teacher.

English Student, Sok Sereyrachna
"My Motivation to learn English, Khmer, Math and Computer was to gain more knowledge. In these subjects so that I would have a better opportunity to find work when I graduate." Sok Sereyrachna SC student.

Infinity Partnership

Infinity Insurance, helping change lives !

Whilst Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) is well entrenched in most developed economics, it is not prevalent in Cambodia. With such a large number of NGO's providing assistance to community in need many local companies don't necessarily get involved or recognize the benefits. Infinity General Insurance Plc, which is part of Cambodia's largest conglomerate the Royal Group, looks at CSR as part of its business model each year with a specific budget based not on profit, but on a percentage of net income ensuring that its contribution increases each year as Infinity's premium income grows.

25 students who are currently sponsored by Infinity Insurance

 "At Infinity we believe that is essential that as a Cambodian owned company that we get involved in helping improve the lives of the people in underprivileged communities where we can" says Michael Girling CEO of Infinity.

Michael Girling (center) with SC staff

 "Importantly, at Infinity, we try and get our staff involved too, doing something good for the community not only improves the lives of those who benefit but also makes staff feel good about themselves, their country and their company” states Michael Girling. Infinity's main focus on CSR involves: Sustainable Cambodia Child sponsorship program with Sustainable Cambodia, Infinity staff sponsor 25 children in some of the poorest area of Pursat province. Education is the key to escape poverty and by helping these children get a better education we not only change their lives but the lives of their families. Under the child sponsorship program more than 75% of Infinity's Staff participates with the company matching their monthly pledge 100%.

Infinity also provides a monthly community grant to Sustainable Cambodia which is allocated to community health and hygiene education programs in 4 villages reaching approximately 1,200 families. Infinity got involved with Sustainable Cambodia in 2015, Sustainable Cambodia works with the families of rural Cambodian villages to help them achieve sustainability and self-sufficiency through wells, irrigation system, schools training and empowerment.

SC staff and Infinity staff
There are so many worthy organizations that need help but what Infinity saw in Sustainable Cambodia was not an "aid" organization...but an empowerment organization which provides sustainable which provides sustainability within the villages. At Infinity we also passionately believe in empowerment with our staff so there was a real synergy in getting involved with Sustainable Cambodia.

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Our Volunteer Runs for our Teachers!

Guy has been part of Sustainable Cambodia since a while. He has been an onsite volunteer twice, and while in Cambodia, he helped with construction work in our campus, teaching students, making the campus and classroom look great, and even organized a movie club for students and teachers which is great fun!

But our friend Guy took it to the next level, and this year he decided to help with our #TeachersChangeLives campaign. How? By running the 20th Angkor Wat International Half Marathon! 

After some training he joined the run, and he asked everyone to help him to fundraise for our campaign. He had raised more than $700 and he is not stopping anytime soon!

Guy Burridge after completing the Angkor Wat International Half Marathon

He received the support from many people, and even his local newspaper featured his achievement!

We have almost reached our campaign goal now, and none of this would happen without the great help from volunteers like Guy, friends and supporters from around the world who believe in what we are doing and contribute to the campaign.

Our #‎TeachersChangeLives campaign is still running until 31st December so you still have time to give the gift of a lifetime during this holiday season.

Visit the following link to join to learn more about our #‎TeachersChangeLives campaign:

Donors of the Week

With the great help from our supporters, we are able to help thousands of village children get a quality education through our community preschools, primary schools, enrichment schools, and university scholarships. None of this would happen without supporters. And during this holiday season, we want to honor the people we are most thankful for... all our supporters. 

Meet Peter and Judy, two of our amazing supporters that have been part of Sustainable Cambodia family for a long time.

Peter, Judy, their sponsored student and our school principal Sopheap

Why did you first give to Sustainable Cambodia (SC)?

We were looking for a charitable project which provided the opportunity to help community have safe fresh water so we helped with the water tanks this led us to the schools that had a direct involvement in the education of children.

What interests you most about SC's ? Why?

The involvement of the Rotary Club organisation gave us comfort that projects would be completed and our donations would be well spent.

Why do you continue to give to our organization?

Following our visit to Pursat we were very pleased with what SC had achieved and the success of the children. Children are very keen to learn.

Why does the cause you are supporting is important to you?

The only way to improve the standard of living of the people is through better education of the children. The children of today will be the adults of the future and will provide the skills to improve the quality of life.

What do you tell others about us (how do you describe SC to others)?

We tell people that SC is a proven organisation that has a direct involvement with its projects with low operating costs. SC is educating children to improve their standard of living and their community

It is an Organisation where philanthropist can have a direct involvement.

How does your philanthropy reflect your values?

Our values in life is to do what we can to help others while conducting our selves in a honest manner to all people.

How do you feel when you make a gift?

It is what we can afford so our small donation needs to be carefully allocated to the right source. We feel satisfied that we have helped in a small way to improve the standard of living of Cambodians.

What makes you hopeful and happy?

To see that the children have  a strong desire to learn to improve their own circumstances and be happy to help each other.

The great news is that you can also make a great change in the lives of many Cambodian families just like Peter and Judy. How? You can start making an impact now by supporting our Teachers.