Taking Park Ridge to Cambodia
by Amanda Young
During the September school holidays, a group of Parklands Christian College senior students travelled to Cambodia for the school’s annual mission trip in partnership with Australian NGO RAW Impact. The students worked in a slum community of Phnom Penh were they organised a holiday program for children and assisted in an emergency food relief program. They then travelled to a red-flagged province in the east of the country where they assisted in the construction of a bamboo plantation. This social enterprise will create a sustainable income for over 40 families and a ready supply of structural bamboo that will be used to provide low-cost and safe accommodation for some of the poorest and most vulnerable people in the country.
Parklands students learned first-hand that sustainable development work in a third-world country needs to have a “hand up”, not a “hand out” approach. They also grappled with the enormity of the problem of poverty in this country and experienced the power they already have to make a lasting difference in the lives of people.
“Before this trip, I had no idea about the many causes and effects of severe poverty. This changed when I sat in a Cambodian slum shack and listened to the life story of a widowed mother to whom we had just delivered emergency food rations”, said one Year 12 student. A Year 11 student remarked: “One day, we played and sang with the local children at a special holiday event, and on other days we built a shed for a bamboo plantation – all of this helped us recognise our responsibility and ability to bring about real change in this world. We will never be the same again.”
Parklands established a missions program in 2012 and has since then facilitated not only annual student trips but also trips for the College’s mums and dads. “Our College’s desire with this program is to equip our young people with the passion and skills to serve in their local and global community, to fight poverty and injustice and make a difference in our world”, said College Principal Johannes Solymosi.