SKIP Newcastle consists of a diverse group of students from Newcastle University. Our mission is to create a sustainable, long-term community development project in the province of Kampong Thom in Cambodia.
Our aim is to support and empower the local population in a way that also respects their own culture, heritage and beliefs. We are currently working towards this through a number of different interventions:
- Providing health education and promoting good community healthcare practices.
- Teaching English to children aged between approximately 5 and 15 years in 6 local schools.
- Funding the construction of wells in areas without enough drinking water.
We implement these by sending out 2 groups of roughly 14 student volunteers over 8 weeks during the summer (4 weeks per group). Each volunteer supports themselves financially, and SKIP Newcastle takes pride in fundraising ethically, ensuring that all of the money given to our charity is spent in ways that will benefit the community directly.
SKIP Newcastle works in partnership with the Cambodian NGO Codec (Corporation for the development of Cambodia) who are indispensable to our project. They share a similar ethos to SKIP Newcastle, and provide us with a team of translators, many of whom we have built a rapport with over the past 5 years and value as friends as well as colleagues. Currently SKIP Newcastle operate in Sandan district within Kampong Thom province, teaching in 6 schools all within approximately a half hour bicycle ride of our volunteer home-stay located in Cheuteal village:
- Cheuteal primary school
- Sandan primary, secondary and high schools
- Kampong Taben primary and secondary school
- Veal Pring primary school
- Samret primary school
- Tuol Veang primary school
Looking ahead in Kampong Thom In 2013 SKIP Newcastle began investigating a number of different interventions and also conducted a number of short-term interventions. The latter included helping to fund and build a small road connecting Cheuteal health centre to the main road through the village, funding and helping with construction of a water pipe system delivering additional clean water to this health centre as well as funding the construction of 2 further wells and purchasing some replacement healthcare equipment.
Our new long term interventions in Kampong Thom province involve the setting up of a pen-pal scheme with children in Sandan primary, with a view to installing a computer in this school and potentially more schools in years to come. We hope that this will present a long-term solution to our current difficulties surrounding the sustainability of our teaching.
Stung Treng 2013 In 2013, four volunteers visited Stung Treng to investigate how SKIP Newcastle might also benefit children in this north-eastern province. We have come up with a number of ideas, including potentially improving school environments by funding and helping with construction of outer fences and other facilities, as well as painting and decoration of existing school buildings. We are still considering how we might implement such an intervention, and hope to make progress during summer 2014. An important consideration of this potential new intervention is to ensure that we do not retract our resources from the work that we also conduct in Kampong Thom.
SKIP Newcastle was originally founded in 2005, where we originally set up a project in Sri Lanka. Unfortunately, due to the civil war in Sri Lanka it was decided to pull out of this project. It was then decided that we would set up an alternative project in rural Cambodia, and SKIP Newcastle sent a pilot project to Kampong Thom Province in summer 2009, and the first batch of SKIP volunteers in 2010.
Cambodia has long standing political and economic problems. Many of these are connected to the civil war and genocide that occurred under the Khmer Rouge between 1975 and 1979. Although currently stable and experiencing steady development, the country has suffered economically and politically because of these past atrocities. Alongside poverty, children suffer greatly from problems such as lack of education, difficulty in access to healthcare, malnourishment and human trafficking.
Our partner NGO, Codec, was selected in 2009 and we have been working successfully with them since then – we hope to build this partnership even further in the coming years. Codec’s vision is “that Cambodia is a society where all the people can have sustainable livelihoods and can improve their lives.” Their mission is “to increase the capacity of the poor to improve their livelihoods”.
As mentioned, SKIP Newcastle fundraises throughout the year in order to raise money that pays for our interventions- this does not include paying for volunteers own personal costs, such as flights and accommodation. This year we have spent fundraised money on paying for translators to help us teach health and English; on materials to build the road and piping system (see above), wells and healthcare equipment. We have also spent some of the money on stamps to set up the pen-pal scheme and anticipate that in the year ahead our plans to set up a computer in a school will account for a large part of our fundraising aims, although we also hope to engage with potential sponsors in order to fund this.
Our fundraising events are diverse and always a lot of fun – in 2012/2013 these are some of the ways in which we encouraged the public to donate to our cause:
- Acoustic night
- Comedy night
- Charity run (Sunderland 10K)
- Cake sales
- Bucket collections
- Charity bungee jump
In the coming year we hope to repeat these. Importantly SKIP Newcastle always try to fundraise for our ongoing project – we recognise that to fundraise just for the sake of it is unethical, despite being a lot of fun!