Did you know that each time some one participates in a Catalyst Global teambuilding activity anywhere in the world for each participant we give to a B1G1 project? To date through this initiative we have given 368,507 impacts to projects around the globe! What is more, on 12 December this year 42 Catalyst Global network partners in 50 countries participated in the world's first Go Team treasure hunt with proceeds going to impact B1G1 projects. From 15 - 20 January 2017, Joanna Hall from Team Up Events New Zealand represented the Catalyst Global network visiting several of the projects in Cambodia that we give to as part of a B1G1 Study Tour.
Sunday 15 January 2017
Hi Everyone! Jo here from Catalyst Global New Zealand partners, Team Up Events! Well today although I was fighting mild jet lag, I didn't want to miss out on a moment of being here so I went exploring. Despite the heat I tucked into some great amok curry, got familiar with the local 'tuk tuk' transport and had fun bartering with the locals. I am amazed at the many luxury hotels that sit incongruously with the rubbish on the streets, the stray animals and the beggars. The contrast is startling. Apparently the cock that I have been hearing crow all day is one of many that are kept behind the hotel, raised to participate in the local popular sport of cock fighting. I am amazed to find 2 Siamese alligators in the hotel pond being teased by the huge koi carp.
Tonight I attended a welcome dinner. It was truly amazing! There were so many people there, all with incredible stories. I look forward to making connections with each one of them as the trip continues.
After an exhilarating yet exhausting day of eye-opening discovery, I crawl into bed feeling lost for words, knowing how big this trip will be for me and just how enormously grateful I am to be part of it, representing all the members of the Catalyst Global teambuilding network.
I'm a little nervous about kick off tomorrow but oh so excited. We will be starting the day by visiting temples and then heading out to a rural village where we will participate first hand in a B1G1 project - Free to Shine - by delivering bicycles... I'd better get some sleep. Night all!
Monday 16 January 2017
Unleashing human potential with bicycles
Today, the B1G1 Study Tour group visited This Life Cambodia, one of B1G1’s Worthy Cause Partners who work closely with communities to transform various issues, working to create brighter future for everyone long-term. They were introduced to the various programs they run, one of which is called ‘Pedaling out of Poverty’. And better yet, Jo and the rest of the study tour group delivered 20+ bikes to one of the communities today! Check out Jo's account!
awake to the sound of the cockerels crowing and head out to visit 3 temples, Ta Prohm, Phnom Bakheng and Bayon. My favorite is Ta Prohm. Construction of Ta Prohm began in 1186 AD. It is a unique synergy of manmade art and its natural living jungle surrounds. Well worth a visit!
After lunch we cycled through the countryside. This was a real highlight for me. Rather than being stuffed on a tourist bus with a bunch of other people, whizzing down the road I felt so connected with the surrounding environment. The houses, families, animals going about their daily lives, what a contrast to my life! Then, there was the adrenalin pumping fun of competing for space on the road with everything from mopeds to massive trucks. Exhilarating!
Soon we arrived at a local school where teachers, parents and children had gathered to witness the handover of the bicycles to 50 ecstatic children. After participating in Go Give and countless Catalyst Global teambuilding programs back in New Zealand which impact this project – it was incredible to witness it firsthand.
While a meeting between the school principal, advisory board (which appear to be the equivalent of a PTA with the village elders thrown in) transpired, I ducked outside to watch the children’s football training. As I sat on my own, it wasn’t long before a little girl boldly approached with a beaming smile and proclaimed “Hi, What’s your name!” We sat and chatted about her siblings, as well as, exchanging our favorite colors, foods and animals. This delightful exchange which may well have been a deliberate choice to practice in English on her part, was to me indicative of the friendly open nature of the people I have encountered on my trip so far.
In the afternoon we visited the offices of “This Life Cambodia” the organization responsible for the bike project. We learnt more about their other projects, their research and their approach to assisting community development. Their mission is to support local communities, families and organizations rather than treat the symptom of an issue.
That evening we were treated to dinner at Marum, a local restaurant run by teachers and students who have been trained in hospitality skills through another worthy B1G1 supported project. My stomach will be encouraging me to give to this worthy cause – the food was so yummy!!
Heading to bed with a full heart and a full belly! Expectant of what new joys tomorrow will bring when we are off on a trip to the circus!!
Tuesday 17 January 2017
Today the group visit 3 organizations, Trailblazer, to learn about the power of production and distribution of sandwater filters and mushroom farming ;Sala Bai, a quality hospitality training program And Phare, a performing arts school. Here is Jo's account...
This morning we visited the Trailblazer Foundation. Here we learnt about the product and distribution of sand water filters. Their water filters and pumps are amazing. The villagers purchase the filters and thereby promoting ownership and care for the product ongoing. The simple science behind the filters is fantastic. I had no idea that sand and gravel could be used to produce clean water. The pumps are easy for villagers to understand and fix if needed. Having no crazy technology keeps the barriers to ownership and maintenance low.
We also viewed their seed testing gardens where they test how precious vegetables react to the environment with the objective of selecting crops that will become a source of income for farmers.
The hospitality training school, Sala Bai was our next stop. Founded by a French NGO, they currently have 108 students that are being trained in high level cooking, housekeeping, beauty therapy and front office skills. We were served a delicious lunch while witnessing firsthand the student’s enthusiasm to learn.
As someone who grew up dancing and doing productions, Phare, a creative and performing arts foundation was really special for me. I really value the arts and creative expression. As one of the other participants on the B1G1 Study Tour, Lindy put it, its part of what makes us human.
Before the show we got to watch the team train and meet the performers. I was so happy to have the only female performer on my table sat next to me. She was 26, close to my age. We shared a lot about our hobbies, family and friends. It was very special for me getting to spend that time with Srey Leak and to learn more about her life, and her aspirations.
The show itself was amazing, they are wonderful performers and artists and the story was very moving.
Tomorrow morning we will have a very early start on the bus out to a village to build a playground with Child's Dream. I'm looking forward to mucking in with everyone!
Wednesday 18 January 2017
Today the group visit a local school to assist in a Playground Building Project with the B1G1 giving project Child's Dream. Here is Jo's account of the day...
Today we woke up very early and headed out to a village with the B1G1 giving project, Child’s Dream. Together we pitched in to construct a children’s playground. This was an amazing experience and I found that I can dig holes and concrete much better than I thought I would be able to. Strangely I found concreting somewhat relaxing?! The whole school also pitched in and the kids did lots of painting and decorating. Great collaborative fun!
We had an amazing lunch among the trees with the children. Intriguing what they eat. Rice in banana leaves and fish as well. Healthy stuff!
Later, chatting to the principal we heard how the playground is a great incentive to encourage children to come to school. It also encourages students to arrive early! This has the added benefit of reinforcing the value of school with parents.
That afternoon we got involved in the student’s English language lessons. I found myself overcome with enthusiasm, singing ABCs at the top of my voice. For me, someone who is not a natural public vocalist – it was an invigorating experience. And, it certainly had the right effect. Due to the simplicity of my name, J-O J-O J-O, no child left the classroom not knowing my name!!
We did a few renditions of the popular pre-school song “Heads shoulders knees and toes”. Crazy fun! The kids were just so happy to learn and give it a go. Playing with them was a real joy.
At the end of the school day we waved goodbye and boarded the bus again for a long journey back to our hotel. The restaurant that night was buzzing with each person’s stories from their personal experiences with the children. The Study Tour group is filled with such a diverse range of passionate people – I’ve made so many incredible connections. And, as ever, the Cambodian food was as ever delicious.
Time for bed! Busy day again tomorrow….
Thursday 19 January 2017
This morning, we will go to ‘unknown’ destination (our bus will be blindfolded!) to meet some of the girls who are at risk of child-trafficking. Free to Shine, one of the well supported Worthy Causes in B1G1 has various projects that focus strongly on the prevention of child-trafficking. Here’s Jo’s account:
"Today was difficult for me. Sitting in on a Free to Shine visit with girls who are at risk for trafficking, I found it confronting to hear the stories of what does happen to such young vulnerable girls.
It was encouraging though to learn that the girls are aware of what can happen. I was inspired to come back someday and get involved in social work that will assist rural girls in this type of situation.
It was heart-warming to speak to the girls – they are very welcoming. I met girls who want to be lawyers, accountants, police woman and teachers!
In the afternoon we went to another Child's Dream project at a school where students are provided with scholarships to attend. Again, listening to the student’s stories, participating in workshops with them and, speaking with them it was awesome to see their drive and motivation.
Tonight was our farewell dinner. Although sad as we know the trip is drawing a close, it was inspirational. The people on this trip have been great to get to know and the shared experiences have been very special. What we have seen has been hard at times It made me appreciative and grateful for what we have at home is at an all-time high.
Cambodia is a truly wonderful place. The people are the country. And, as the locals say, I have a 'warmth in my heart'. I want to take that warmth with me and share the inspirational stories from this trip and do what I can to do to make the world a place of equal opportunity and freedom."