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ITC supports unique, life-changing project

Posted on 05/11/2014 by
Manurewa High School Deputy Principal Phil Muir with some local children from Cambodia

Manurewa High School Deputy Principal Phil Muir with some local children from Cambodia

For several years, ITC has been sponsoring Manurewa High School’s Humanitarian Aid Leadership Programme (HALP) to Cambodia.

This year around 20 students embarked on a journey that saw them that return as “empowered, passionate, worldly young adults who have a greater desire to achieve and then give back to their community,” says Deputy Principal Phil Muir.

The students spent 12 days engaged in a range of projects and activities “that opened their eyes to the history and culture of a country that has been shattered by civil war, famine, genocide and poverty,” says Mr Muir.

The group worked with a number of aid projects including the World Vision Area Development Programme at Chi Kreng, and a NZAid funded agricultural programme that helps communities turn from subsistence farmers into productive croppers on land that was until recently covered with landmines.

Students also gave blood and donated to the Kantha Bopha children’s hospital in Siem Reap and the children’s hospital in Phnom Penh.

At Kantha Bopha, students heard from Nobel Peace laureate Dr Beat Richner. Student Kate Montgomery says, “Hearing about Dr. Beat Richner’s project of building and maintaining the Kantha Bopha Children’s Hospitals was inspiring. It’s amazing how much one person’s vision can impact millions of people’s lives. This helped me to realise that I have the power to help people too.”

“The HALP programme also has a long term relationship with the Centre for Children’s Happiness – an orphanage which rescues children from the dumps of Phnom Penh,” says Mr Muir “and the students spent a full day playing, muralling, teaching and interacting, as well as giving a large range of donated gifts.”

The group also spent a day with 20 students sponsored by the NZ Ministry of Foreign Affairs to study as postgraduate students in New Zealand in areas such as development studies and tourism development. “The idea is that they will return to Cambodia and help to build a more successful country,” says Mr Muir. “We made some excellent links with this group, and look forward to developing these contacts – particularly when the students come to New Zealand next year.”

The students also visited the Genocide Museum and the Killing Fields. This visit had a real impact on the students, including Kate Montgomery, who says, “Throughout the entire time we visited the prison I felt numb and weak. None of what I saw looked real to me. It was so far removed from what I consider to be reality that I just couldn’t make sense of it.”

Kate says that the trip was genuinely life changing for her: “I saw, did, and experienced things that I hadn’t before. It really showed me the importance of so many things that we take for granted in this world. Things such as transport, roads, clean water, bathrooms, money, blood, education, and above all, people.”

“It truly did change my life and me as a person. I am not who I was before, and I am still not who I will be. But I can say that I am different. And I plan to use my experience to impact on others’ lives, and to make a difference in this world.”

Mr Muir says that the trip would have been beyond the reach of many of the students without ITC’s help: “The 2013 HALP team truly wishes to thank International Travel College for their generous contribution and support – your belief in our unique, life-changing project is very highly valued.  We travelled as fabulous ambassadors for our community and country and your support helped to make this project a reality.”

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