Sunday, 3 February 2008

Building hope in Cambodia

As part of their fundraising efforts participants in the Building Hope Trip have been offering catering services. Trip members include from left, front row: Devin McLeod and Rebecca Landry; back row: Christina Pan, Judy Magrum, Lawrence Sabourin, Jim Snider and Kai-Ann Gregory. Not seen are Audrey Landry and Rachel Vanderveen. - Roxanna Thompson/NNSL photo

Roxanna Thompson
Northern News Services
Thursday, January 31, 2008

DEH GAH GOT'IE KOE/FORT PROVIDENCE - A group of students, teachers and community members from Fort Providence are hard at work fundraising so they can give up part of their summer holidays to help others.

Since the beginning of October students including Devin McLeod, Rebecca Landry, Audrey Landry and Lawrence Sabourin, along with teachers Jim Snider, Christina Pan and Kai-Ann Gregory, Beaver volunteer Rachel Vanderveen and community member Judy Magrum have been holding fundraising events to help them reach their goal of travelling to Cambodia.
Called the Building Hope Trip, the group plans to spend two weeks in Cambodia helping to construct part of a small building.

"We're all going to work," said Jim Snider who's organizing the trip.

The nine- by 16-metre structure will be used by a missionary couple to house local students. The couple, who are part of the Free Methodist Church, run a site in the countryside of Cambodia where children come and are fed nutritious meals and given help with their homework. The missionaries also help find sponsorship so the students can continue going to school.

Snider, a Grade 2 and 3 teacher, developed the idea that's fuelling the trip.

While teaching for four years in Taiwan, Snider travelled to other countries including Cambodia.

While visiting the Angor temples approximately five years ago, Snider was propositioned by a young child prostitute who was no older than the students he was teaching at the time.
The event shocked Snider and from it he developed a goal to provide support for organizations that are helping people in Cambodia.

In Cambodia many children don't complete school either because their families need them to work and provide income or because they can't afford school supplies.

"In Cambodia the kids are hungry for education but they can't get it," he said.

Snider had originally planned the Building Hope Trip for members of his church down south but that changed when he moved to Fort Providence.

"We thought it would be a great opportunity for kids in the North to go over and experience that," said Snider.

Snider approached Lois Philipp, the school's principal, who agreed that it would be a good experience for interested students.

"I think it's an eye-opener for the kids to go over and experience a culture that's so different from their own," he said.

By going on the trip the students will be helping others and learning about themselves in the process, said Snider.

Snider, who believes that it's important for people to work to stop social injustices, said the experience will be a life-changing one for the participants.

"When you go over, you come back totally changed. When you're changed, you start to change people in your own community," he said.

To fund their trip and the construction of the building, the group has been working to raise approximately $30,000. So far they've reached $13,000.

Since October no task has been beyond the small group. They've held luncheons and bake sales, done catering and run the recycling program for the community.

"We've been working our butts off," said Snider.

All the work is worth it, according to Devin McLeod.

When McLeod heard about the trip she jumped at the chance to join.

"It's probably one of the last times I'll have these opportunities," said McLeod, who graduates this year.

McLeod is looking forward to the sightseeing they'll do on the trip and experiencing new cultures. She also thinks it'll be fun to construct the building.

"I can't wait to do that, to do something to make a difference while I'm over there," she said.
Rebecca Landry is also excited about the opportunity.

"It will be a great experience to be part of it," said Landry.

The group will be leaving for the trip when school ends in June and will be spending two weeks in Cambodia along with a stop-over in Korea and some time in Vietnam.

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