Elephantine effort to help Cambodian kids

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Seamstresses Saney, from Siem Reap, near Angkor Wat, has developed a successful sewing business at her home.
Seamstresses Saney, from Siem Reap, near Angkor Wat, has developed a successful sewing business at her home.

A CROWDFUNDING campaign is underway to provide education for children in Cambodia, say Charlie Salter and Rose Kumar, treasurers of the Human and Hope Association (HHA).

Charlie says that Elephants for Education aims to raise $15,000 by September 7 through the sale of handmade stuffed elephants, which would fund next year’s education program for 150 schoolchildren.

“By purchasing an elephant, you’re providing an income to Cambodian women so they can support their families with shelter, education and healthcare,” he says.

“Both Rose and I believe in the power of education as an investment and a mechanism to improve social outcomes and wellbeing.

“This can be seen here in the ACT, which has both the highest tertiary education rate and also the highest average earnings in the country.

“What is particularly pleasing is the HHA’s focus on sustainability – the organisation’s projects aims to empower Cambodians, who between 1975 and 1979, lost most of their educated population through starvation, torture, execution, disease and overwork under the ruling of the Khmer Rouge, to build better lives for themselves.”

Charlie Salter and Rose Kumar... “We believe in the power of education as an investment and a mechanism to improve social outcomes and wellbeing.” Photo by Andrew Finch
Charlie Salter and Rose Kumar… “We believe in the power of education as an investment and a mechanism to improve social outcomes and wellbeing.” Photo by Andrew Finch

Charlie says that the HHA offers a range of education and training projects, such as schooling opportunities for younger children, and micro-loans to provide opportunities for adults to establish their own businesses.

He and Rose say the idea of selling the elephants came about when they were brainstorming how to expand their market for handicrafts (hopehandicrafts.com) made by Cambodian seamstresses.  

“We knew that we had to fundraise for the 2017 school year education project, so putting those two factors together allows the women who make the elephants an opportunity to make an extra income, and their children and neighbours will directly benefit as they are educated with the remaining proceeds,” he says.

Charlie says this directly benefits one of the HHA seamstresses Saney, from Siem Reap, near Angkor Wat, who with the assistance of HHA has developed a successful sewing business at her home.

“Our last assessment survey has put her almost out of the poverty bracket,” says Rose.

Charlie says that Elephants for Education is HHA’s third crowdfunding campaign and that they have some way to go to reach the target of $15,000.  

“We currently have 24 children who will be able to receive education in 2017, however we have a very ambitious target of 150 children,” he says.

“Providing the community in Cambodia with education opportunities is incredibly important. Our local staff in Cambodia have a proven track record of improving the confidence, knowledge and behaviour of our students, which in turn will lead to them breaking the cycle of poverty as they grow older.  

“This campaign has been great for us expanding outside of our immediate network; in the growth phase of the organisation, our donations came from family and friends, but now most of our donations are from people that our board doesn’t personally know.”

The campaign has also brought enquiries about HHA’s broader range of products, which Charlie and Rose say is a positive sign for the future.

“It’s exciting to think of the continuing growth of the organisation,” Rose says.

“Going forward, we would like to establish business partnerships as a way of securing additional stable funding so that we can continue to help break the cycle of poverty in Cambodia.”

Elephants start at $25 and are available at chuffed.org/project/elephantsforeducation; donations for smaller amounts can also be made.

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Kathryn Vukovljak
Kathryn Vukovljak is a "CityNews" journalist with a particular interest in homes and gardens.

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