In October, a team of 14 Spirit of Sanitarium Awards recipients from Sanitarium, Life Health Foods and Vitality Works in Australia and New Zealand travelled to Cambodia to work with the Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA) on their Adventures in Communities Empowerment! Project.
Most of the team only met for the first time at the airport, but it wasn’t long until the group was tightly bonded and sharing experiences that were truly eye opening and memorable. On the first day, the team spent an emotional morning at the Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum in Phnom Penh learning about the country’s history, before travelling to the project site of Sry Thnong Village in the remote Rovieng District where they stayed for four nights at Jombok Haos – ADRA’s Adventure Learning Centre.
ADRA is working with Sry Thnong Village to help address root causes of poor family nutrition and bring about changes. The project focuses on interventions that specifically support children who are most vulnerable in the rapidly changing development context, and needs are assessed in close consulta¬tion with the community.
Adventures in Communities Empowerment! helps to provide the most vulnerable population groups with access to clean water and raise the community’s awareness of water health and sanitation practices. Sanitarium’s donated funds and the team’s mix of manual labour and community programs produced a playground for the local school, 2 water wells and 4 latrines for families in the community that need it the most.
The project work was conducted at Sry Thnong Primary School and Kindergarten. The team took on the work with incredible enthusiasm, mixing and pouring concrete for the wells, carrying heavy concrete pipes for the latrines and digging holes and cutting timber for the school playground. It was challenging in the hot humid conditions but the team were in great spirits. “Giving the community facilities that will make their lives easier, showing care and coming together - we may live in different countries but we are all people that can look out for each other no matter what.”
Kurtis Geering – Award Recipient, Sanitarium New Zealand
The team ran workshops with the children, educating them about the importance of hand washing, teeth cleaning and other safe hygiene practises. With limited resources and practise time, the team did a fantastic job of interacting with the kids and getting the key messages across. They also gifted the school and children with toothbrushes and sports equipment and had some time to play football, soccer and Frisbee with the children.
After the project work, the team had a 6 hour bumpy bus trip to Siem Reap where they enjoyed some time taking in the sights, exploring the busy markets and relaxing by the pool before their last dinner together. It was a fantastic end to an unforgettable and life changing journey. “I learnt that you can change the lives of others, be it with a smile and a kind word or helping hand. That feeling that the problem is too big for one person isn’t right as every little bit helps, one person or village at a time.”
Adrian Mudrazija – Award Recipient, Sanitarium Australia