I have just returned for World Vision’s Cambodia Youth Experience Tour and saying that I had the most incredible time does not even begin to describe my experience.
Before leaving for the trip we were given the goal of raising $2000 for World Vision Cambodia and the projects which we were visiting. Originally, this target was extremely overwhelming, however, after brainstorming with friend we came up with the idea of the ‘roaming gnomes’. This started of with a team of two gnomes (Jerome and Naomé) which eventually grew to nine, that roamed around the community. With ransom notes around their neck they were passed to friends doorsteps with information about my World Vision fundraising and how to donate, and options to pass on the roaming gnome. These options included me picking up the gnome from their doorstep, electing a friend to ‘gnome’, and ‘gnome-impunity’ so that you wouldn’t get ‘gnomed’ again. I was a bit worried that some people would not want to participate and that that they might feel pressured into donating, but I was blown away with the enthusiasm of everyone! I had people that I didn’t even know asking when they were going to be visited by a gnome. Originally the plan was that I would keep a spreadsheet of who has been ‘gnomed’, where the gnome currently is and who is still waiting for a visit from a gnome. However, very quickly I lost all nine gnomes (many of them as still AWOL so if anyone sees one please send him back my way) even though money was arriving in the fundraising account daily.
Another thing I did prior to my trip was a Mad Hatters Tea Party where guests who bought tickets to the event were asked to wear their maddest hat and bring their craziest mug. Lisa, the World Vision Youth Ambassador of 2016, spoke at this event and it was an incredible way for me to raise money for World Vision while having a heap of fun and also spreading the message and work of the organisation.
The trip itself was beyond anything I ever expected. I could have stayed much longer, I loved that beautiful country so much! I loved the dynamics of the group that I travelled with and also how we did lots of touristy stuff as well as going to local not for profit and of course visiting World Vision offices and projects. This gave us the opportunity to understand all aspects of the country. It is impossible for me to choose a favourite part as every single place we went and every single activity we did was a highlight. I think that one of the most important things that I learnt was that poverty may come in all different forms but it comes back to being a lack of access, a concept which should be the centre of all international aid. I also love how World Vision nurtures relationships being built between nations rather than enforcing international hierarchies and this made the trip enriching for the Australians and Cambodians alike.