Globalteer works with two Government approved children’s projects in Medellin, Colombia. Both projects work with children who are victims of the huge displacement in Colombia caused by the country’s infamous drug wars. The projects offer a safe place for children who would otherwise be at risk from child traffickers, the drugs trade and street violence. Globalteer helps with funding and by placing volunteers who help with the children’s school work. Amongst the varied duties that our volunteers carry out, assisting with English classes is one of the most important, and as our Elena, Colombia volunteer coordinator explains, it really is having a positive impact:
One of the projects where we place volunteers in Cambodia is a school called Helping Hands. Globalteer now manages Helping Hands and we are thrilled to report on some of the progress the project has made over the years.
Helping Hands was set up a year before Globalteer was founded as a free school and community project for more than 250 children living in extreme poverty in rural Cambodia. In 2013 we are asked to take over the running of the project, including fundraising and sourcing volunteers.
Thanks to the brilliant staff and the enthusiasm and hard work of the children at the project, it has gone from strength to strength. Our holistic strategy of helping the community to help itself through education means that villagers are better prepared for school and university, have a better chance of finding decent employment, and are less at risk from sickness and malnutrition.
Ask the teachers
We wanted to share more about the real impact that Helping Hands has had on the community so first we talked to teachers Nang and Sopheap and here’s what they told us:
“Because of Helping Hands the young people in our village can speak, read and write English very well, which will give them more opportunities for the future, especially in Siem Reap, where English is needed. Not only for jobs, but also if students want to continue to University, they will need English”
We also asked the director of the local secondary school what he thought about the children who study with us at Helping Hands and this is what he said:
“We have children from 5 different villages studying at our school, and the children from Helping Hands all do very well compared to other students, not only in English but other subjects as well”.
Impact beyond the classroom
Project Coordinator Sita also explained other ways in which the project had made a tangible difference to the lives of the villagers:
“First we have created real Job opportunities for people in the village as teachers, cook, and gardener, and thanks to the Helping Hands scholarship programme, more young people in the village have a university degree, which will help them to get good jobs in town in order to support their families.
“In terms of health, almost every family has their own well, there are more old style water filters in the village and our students have access to the filter and safe water if they don’t have one at home. This reduces the risk of water borne diseases, which means better school attendance for children and less time of work, earning money for the adults. Parents have also started taking their children to the hospital more, instead of to the ‘magic doctor’ or village healer. And in fact one of the local healers is studying nursing and midwifery now thanks to a Helping Hands Scholarship.”
How volunteers contribute
What about volunteers, where do they fit in? Globalteer’s General Manager Jim explains,
“Volunteers are extremely important to Helping Hands. They bring skills that aren’t always widely available in Cambodia, particularly when it comes to English language teaching where the value of having native speaker to help our teachers as well as our children should never be underestimated.
"And outside the English class we really appreciate the supervisory help and roll-up-your-sleeves kind of help that we get from all our volunteers in the kitchen, the garden, the sports field, anywhere they can lend a hand! And of course many volunteers become life-long supporters who are vital to the continuation of Helping Hands’ work."