At REACH, we firmly believe that collaboration is key.
By connecting with like-minded organisations, with strong values and parallel goals, we believe that together we are stronger and can further our REACH.
Through our founders’ Emily and John’s Rotary Passport Club of Melbourne (RPM) membership, we have had the pleasure of meeting and connecting with various Australians and overseas ambassadors coordinating aid relief and poverty alleviation across the globe.
At the beginning of the year, we saw an opportunity to collaborate with RPM members, Jess Palti and Aviv Palti, co-founders of established and respected Australian charity and local NGO ‘Cambodia Rural Students Trust’ (CRST). CRST, based in Siem Reap, shares the same goal of eradicating poverty in Cambodia through education.
Our first collaboration with CRST was back in July, whereby their ‘Project G’ team came out to REACH to train our staff about ‘Day’s for Girls’. Days for Girls is a global initiative aimed at eliminating period poverty, by providing quality menstrual care solutions and health education for those without access to these essential basic needs. Thanks to our RPM President Maria Hicks, we also received 100 ‘Project G’ menstrual kits to distribute, and our Education team are now in the final stages of revising our very own workshop to deliver these kits and much needed education to our REACH youths and guardians.
Last month, Jess and Aviv approached us with an exciting new opportunity to join forces. Each month, as a part of their scholarship program, CRST’s 104 students’ must carry out a day of outreach volunteering to give back to their community. However, a few days before their scheduled house-build in October, Jess and Aviv were alerted that due to flooding they could no longer access the selected family’s land; meaning their planned house-build needed to be postponed.
With 3 days to re-plan their community outreach activity, and countrywide floods, the CRST team pitched to us that we join forces and carry out an emergency relief effort for the families within our community. With their budget, resources and enthusiasm… we welcomed the last-minute challenge with open arms!
After a quick meeting to discuss logistics and the plan, it was decided that the most effective way to support as many REACH families as possible, was to fix tarps over their houses to protect them from the rain. Our social workers and team went out to inspect 4 main areas on government roadsides where our REACH families reside in makeshift scrap-metal huts. Within the day, we had purchased all the materials and received all necessary approvals from the Chief of Village and Chief of Commune to carry out the project.
With everything lined up, we then invited 15 of our REACH Role Models to volunteer their time on the day. We saw this as the perfect opportunity to introduce our young leaders of REACH, to CRST’s inspirational university scholars. Aged 12-16, due to COVID, our REACH Role Model’s are yet to have attended classes at REACH, have not yet learned English, and are at the starting blocks of their journey. So, we were so excited to introduce them to the encouraging CRST Leaders, to show them, that with hard work at REACH, that they too can and will reach their dreams.
One day later, the CRST cohort arrived punctually early at 7.15am, with welcome speeches and an introduction to our REACH Role Models, the combined teams were divided into groups of 4. They all piled into the CRST trailers, and our REACH remork and headed out over the bumpy muddy roads to 4 different slum areas surrounding our school.
From 8.30-11.30am the teams were busily repairing and fixing tarps to our families in need. The REACH Role Models worked closely with the CRST leaders and each group successful completed all tasks. Within the village, local families were all very excited to get involved and assist with the repairs.
As expected, the CRST leaders acted as mentors to our Role Models and helped them at every step of the way.
One of our 15 year-old Role Models was lucky enough to have her house selected for repair, and this was her reflection about the day:
“ I felt very happy to work with CRST NGO and it was a very good chance to meet them. They explained and helped me to understand everything to do. They are really open with what they know and I felt happy to ask for their help. I am very grateful to have my house fixed and there is no more leaking.
My grandma was at the pagoda and when she came back, she was so happy and surprised. I learned from CRST to work in a team and co-operate very well. They were all very positive people and I want to work with them again.”
In total, the teams were able to weatherproof 24 houses – an incredible effort. Two of the houses they visited were the houses of the REACH Role Models in their groups, which made it even more personal.
While the volunteer builders were out in the community, 5 of the wonderful CRST students helped our kitchen-hand Theap to cook-up a delicious tom yum soup and omelets; a meal which was inhaled by everyone upon their return!
To finish-off the day, in true leadership form, the CRST students stood up and each shared what they learned from the day. We then encouraged our youths to do the same; with no public speaking experience, it was a nerve-wracking, but a character-building moment
One month on, as we sit and wait for the dry season to start, rain continues to fall across the country. With 24 families now kept dry, we believe it was an incredible collaboration and a fantastic way to build community spirit.
We would like to thank CRST for this opportunity, for funding this initiative and for introducing their inspiring scholarship students to our first generation of young leaders.
After the incredible success of this event, having learned about our upcoming Side by Side ride, the CRST students were eager to continue supporting our cause. Through the generosity of their founders, we are proud to announce that 12 CRST ambassadors will be cycling in a relay team, fundraising and acting as support and mentors to our REACH students on our 200km ‘Side by Side’ ride in January, 2021.
Our REACH staff have also put-up their hands to relay alongside the CRST team to mentor and chaperone our youths… want to support our encouraging REACH x CRST relay team? Click here to donate now, no amount is too small!
This year has set the foundation for ongoing collaborations between CRST and REACH Siem Reap; we are incredibly grateful to have this inspirational NGO supporting our cause in these very important formative years.