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TPP staff volunteer for Helping Hands Cambodia

Posted on 25/03/2019 by Elizabeth Frank

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Late last year staff were also given the opportunity to receive an extra 5 days paid leave to volunteer abroad during 2019 with £2,000 towards their chosen international project and/or travel and accommodation. They were required to pitch to a Dragons Den style panel on what they would do with the 2 weeks and the money.

Brigitte Stundner and Elizabeth Frank pitched to volunteer for an Educational Project in Cambodia, including why they chose this cause, how they would get involved and the difference they would make. Having fought off tough competition Liz and Brigitte flew to Cambodia in February with charity Globalteer working on their Helping Hands programme. Whilst there they kept a diary of their experience.

Brigitte’s thoughts on the experience:

“Having been given the opportunity by TPP to go on an international volunteering trip, I gained a memorable experience at Helping Hands Cambodia, which I will forever cherish. The UK volunteering charity Globateer supported us throughout the entire process, from our very first inquiry to the induction in Siem Reap, they were really helpful throughout our time there. The trip was hugely eye opening for me, seeing the conditions these kids live in, they are the happiest children I’ve ever seen, always so eager to learn, with so much respect for the teachers and volunteer. I will miss them so much and hope to be able to return to the school one day!”

Brigitte & Liz’s diary:

On arrival on our first week we began by supervising the sports class and playing various ball games. After an hour of running around with the kids (there were some serious football players!) the children went for a nutritious breakfast which is all made from produce from the School garden and often consisted of rice or porridge, with veggies, eggs or meat. The children had a bit of free time then to look at books in the library and complete their homework.

We then joined Yoeuy, the English teacher with English lessons (helping with pronunciation, revising their textbooks and preparing for tests. This week we were supporting the younger children (age 5-10) at the school.  In no time we were in front of the class, teaching and playing the children’s favourite game…hangman! We worked on learning the alphabet and associating words to the letters, as well as singing the alphabet song! Throughout the week we supported the children through play and word/ alphabet games and teaching them songs such as head shoulders knees and toes. 

After school we stayed behind to help reorganise the books based on difficulty level. This became our project once school had finished each day for the week, this helped the children pick out relevant books for their ability/age group.

On route to the school on the fourth day we stopped to purchase some sports equipment, balls, hoola hoops, bubbles and skipping ropes, to replace some of their old/ broken equipment. The children were all so grateful and it was amazing to see them using these throughout our time there – their smiles definitely made our week!

On our 2nd week we worked with the older children who were generally between 10-15 years old. The teacher was unfortunately sick on the first day, so we stepped in teaching PE for 2 hours, which was fun and tiring! We supported the class throughout the week with reading, writing sentences using verbs/ adjectives, playing football and catch. The children were also very keen to teach us their own language, Khmer (like how to count to 10 or what certain words they had recently learned in English were in Khmer (video of Liz being taught 1-10 in Khmer.)

On our last day we bought each child a new pencil, eraser and sharpener, which they were very excited to choose themselves. We then spent the first part of the morning playing ‘duck duck goose.’ It was so nice to see all the children running around and laughing so much! That afternoon the children drew us pictures to take home (which were too adorable!) and we taught them more rhymes, such as ‘if you are happy and you know it’ and ‘the wheels on the bus,’ which was a big success!

We got the opportunity this week to drive through the village to see where the children lived. This was incredibly eye-opening, to see the accommodation they live in, with very little yet they are the sweetest and happiest children we’ve ever met. They were always so eager to learn new things, very respectful of the teachers, volunteers and other children and they were so welcoming and loving - the girls welcoming us with hugs and freshly picked flowers from the garden and the boys with lots of high-fives! We really enjoyed the opportunity we had and it was an interesting comparison to how children live in England.

Liz’s thoughts on the experience:

“I spent two weeks volunteering in Cambodia with the happiest and most humble children I have ever met who give so much! Getting to be a part of their lives even if it was for such short period of time makes such a difference to them and also to myself. It’s an experience that will stay with me forever and bring a smile to my face every time I think of the children and how excited and eager they were to learn as well as teach me.  From the offset Gloabalteer Charity were on hand to support us and answer any questions we and all the way through our trip, I can’t recommend them enough!! Also a HUGE thanks to TPP as it wouldn’t have been at all possible without them providing us with the opportunity to volunteer abroad and allow us to have such an amazing experience.”

Message from Helping Hands

“I’ve had the pleasure of spending some time with Brigitte and Liz these last couple of weeks, and I just wanted to drop you a note to say a big thank you to you and everyone at TPP Recruitment for supporting their visit to Helping Hands.  Today we sadly say farewell to the ladies, who’ve both been such great volunteers.  We’re incredibly grateful for the time they’ve given to support our teachers and work with our students, and it’s wonderful that you were able to support them by giving them the time away from work. 

Brigitte and Liz have been busy bees during their stay! They did a great job of organising our library in their first week and have also been supporting our teachers in sports and English classes.  They even covered an English class when one of our teachers was sick earlier this week, which was a huge help!

I’d also like to say a big thank you for all that you and TPP Recruitment did to assist Brigitte and Liz’s fundraising efforts.  We’re blown away by the generosity of your staff and are so grateful for your support.  Brigitte and Liz used some of the money donated to purchase new balls, hula hoops and bubbles which the students are having so much fun with!  The rest of the funds will go towards buying much needed stationery supplies, some new early years English books for our library, and a set of table and chairs for our outside area – all of which help us to keep the school running and support our 300 students. Thank you so much!”