Two years after a delegation of 18 students from Dwight London took part in a unique community service initiative to build houses for needy families in Cambodia, a group of 22 Dwight students returned in the summer of 2012 to continue the good work.
The trip was the culmination of two years of fundraising by the upper and lower schools. Students worked alongside Tabitha, a not for profit organisation which has been building houses and wells in Cambodia since 1994.
The overall aim of Tabitha is to build and promote functioning communities in Cambodia and to promote community amongst the Cambodian people.
Dwight London’s link with Cambodia came from a previous Dwight staff member who had worked in a Cambodian school.
Cambodia ranks among the world’s poverty hot spots. 57% of the population lives under the poverty line, 70% lacks clean water and 46% of the children are malnourished.
“This programme is a fantastic opportunity for our kids to learn first hand about giving back to the global community,” said Dwight London lower school principal Matt Parkin, who accompanied the students on the trip.
“The students got to meet with the Cambodian families they were helping, introduce themselves and learn more about their culture. The fact that we also have an ongoing commitment to this programme deepens the relationship between our school and the relief operations here in Phnom Phen.”
Dwight London students raised a total of $13,000 to support the home-building efforts, and students from years 9, 10 and 11 (US grades 8 to 10) made the trip.
Once in Cambodia, the group built around sixteen houses made of corrugated iron and wood.
Also accompanying the students were Dwight London economics teacher and community and service coordinator Victor Bishop, and learning and support coordinatorAmanda Beitz.
“The highlight of the trip was definitely the house building,” said Grace Testa, year 12 student at Dwight London.
“Everyone we met was so lovely and welcoming. Being in the village, we got to experience a very special part of their culture you wouldn’t have been able to see anywhere else.”
Whilst in Cambodian capital Phnom Phen the group visited various Cambodian sites including Anchor Watt, the largest Hindu Temple complex in the world.
Oliver Chaimo, year 11 student at Dwight London, described Cambodian culture and sites as completely different to anything he had seen before, “It was really eye-opening how they live and what they live on – so profoundly different to our lives here in the UK.”