While we were traveling in Chile Travis and I met Amanda, a fantastic woman who had spun a positive twist to the American economical downturn. Over lunch we shared travel stories and ended up talking about volunteering abroad.
I’ve always wanted to go somewhere and volunteer my time, but I’ve never enjoyed the idea of also having to pay an exorbitant amount of money for it. As I see it, paying for my own expenses makes perfect sense, helping contribute some money to the project makes sense, and my time is worth money – so why would I also have to finance what feels like the entire organization on top of it all? Volunteering shouldn’t only be for the wealthy or those who excel at fundraising.
As it turns out, Amanda felt the exact same way – so much so that she had created her own charity two years back. Her organization, Creating Partnership for Progress (CPP), is very small and runs one project a year. Projects usually cost around $15’000 and volunteers only pay their flight plus $300 to cover their transport, room and board. 100% of the money donated to the project goes to the project – they do not keep any of it for administrative cost. How incredible (and rare) is that!
In their first year they built a playground in Tanzania, the next, housing in Guatemala. Now in their third year, their project is to build a public library in Cambodia – way off the beaten path. Literacy and education is a major player in the fight against poverty, so this is a fantastic project to support. The library will be centrally located near 25 villages and will serve over 10,000 people. In 2007, education expenditure only accounted for 1.6% of Cambodia’s total GDP – because of poor governing and corruption, little of that money makes it to the rural areas.
The people of Cambodia are some of the nicest, most generous people I have ever met. They are grateful, positive and always smiling – even when the times are hard (of course this is a generalization, but it is truly the impression that I got of Cambodians). And life is hard in Cambodia: poverty is widespread, fields are full of landmines, corruption is high and people are still recovering from the civil war. In Cambodia, the poverty line falls at US$1.25. As of 2007, about 30% of Cambodians were living below the national poverty line – that’s one in five. It makes for no surprise that of all the countries I have been to, I have never seen people with so little as I’ve seen in Cambodia – yet I strongly believe that they are some of the most beautiful people around.
So, what can you do? Help Amanda and other CPP volunteers build a library in Cambodia! The project is starting July 15 and they they urgently need your financial help. At the last count, CPP was still $7000 short from reaching their project goal.
* You can donate money through PayPal – their PayPal link is on their website. Any amount will help! I believe they also accept checks.
* If you are looking to help in more creative ways, such as with your time, used books, etc, send Amanda an email (it can be found on this page of their site) to check how to proceed.
* Lastly, feel free to share this blog post (or create your own) to raise awareness!