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Go team JWOC!

Next month members of the Journeys Within crew are cycling or running for a good cause. Journeys Within Our Community (JWOC) scholarship students and staff, as well as our beloved hotel front desk man Makara, are using two of Angkor’s most popular sporting events to raise money for the projects close to their hearts …

JWTC Team

Last week, our good friend Makara from the Journeys Within Boutique Hotel popped by the office to collect the tour companies donations to his half-marathon effort. On December 7th, Makara will run 21 km around the Angkor Wat park to raise money for JWOC. Our favourite front desk man is using this popular half-marathon race to raise awareness and funds for the JWOC programs he loves. A former student, Makara knows the transformative effect JWOC’s outreach programs can have.

Makara isn’t the only one giving his time, sweat and probably tears to long-distance event in the name of JWOC.

Scholarship student Chhorvy was the inspiration behind the JWOC bike ride. She is a Communications student at JWOC and is working hard planning and organizing the bike ride for the other scholarship students. She is also the student who put forward the idea for scholarship students to enter Race4Change to raise money and awareness for the good works JWOC does.

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In her own words…

Why did you want to take part in this bike ride?

It is good exercise!!! but also it is an opportunity for me to represent JWOC and help them to tell people about all the good things we do. JWOC has given me so much help and support over the past 4 years, I wanted to do something to say thank you for this. Riding with the other scholarship students and staff for JWOC will be such a fun opportunity, I hope by doing Race4Change, friends of JWOC around the world will want to support and help us. If I can’t donate to JWOC myself, I want to try and inspire others to donate themselves.

Have you ever cycled 30km before, do you think you can do it?

I have never! but I will try my best, it will be such a wonderful experience and it is around the Angkor temples which makes it more special. I am so excited to be part of this.

How will Race4Change help JWOC?

Each of our 4 programs are trying to raise money for parts of their project which are really important. We are trying to raise money for 140 water filters, to continue our art and science classes for one year, fund 15 microloans and provide one whole village with 60 Home gardens. It is a dream of ours to be able to achieve this but if we did, my community would be proud of my hard work.

*** Okay, so those of us in the tour office may not be the racing kind but we are the supportive kind. We would like to wish all our JW team members who are getting race ready the best of luck. Whether on foot or bicycle, we support you!

Making a difference in Luang Prabang

Just this last January, two Journeys Within guests, Joanne and David Lockman traveled around SE Asia with a stop in Luang Prabang, Laos. Here Nicole tells us about how they turned one philanthropic tour into so much more …

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While the Lockman’s were in Luang Prabang, they went on a JW custom made tour to lesser visited villages and learned firsthand about some of the culture and traditions that are inherently Lao.

Along with visiting ancient temples, they observed clay pottery artisans and learned local fishing methods from villagers on the Mekong River. They concluded the day with a stop at Ban Xing, a 16th century village on the banks of the Mekong, for a blessing ceremony from the elders of the village. After the ceremony, with the help of their guide, Phaeng, the Lockman’s handed out notebooks and writing utensils purchased in town to the 65 students at Ban Xing Primary School. Even though they had already given items to the school and knew a portion of their tour fees went to a village fund, they felt they could do more.

They inquired what the school needed most and were told that the installation of electricity for lights and fans in the classroom was at the top of the list. The teachers of the school expressed how during the winter and rainy seasons the classrooms would become too dark for the students to see the blackboard, making them incapable of staying focused. In addition to the dark classrooms, the sweltering heat from February to June would also serve as a major distraction for the students.

After returning home, the Lockman’s felt so moved by the gentle and gracious spirit of the village and its residents that they decided to raise funds in order to install electricity at the school. The Lockman’s reached out to friends and family about their experience and asked for help in order to put 2 ceiling fans and lights into each of the 5 rooms as well as to light the outside walkway and the 4 bathrooms. In just one quick week the Lockman’s were able to reach their goal of $1,200 USD, which meant that the entire project could be completed all at once!

Electricity Installation at Ban Xing 010

They made their donation to Journeys Within Our Community’s Village School Sponsorship program and installation was quickly underway at Ban Xing Primary School. The week before last, Phaeng and I went to the school to oversee the electrical team’s installation of the lights and fans until its completion. It was a long day with the electricians working from 7:30 until 5:30, but luckily just as the sun was setting behind the mountains of Luang Prabang, all was complete and we had electricity!

Just today the Director of Ban Xing Primary, Mr. Siphanh, contacted Phaeng to express, on behalf of the students and teachers, their sincere gratitude for the Lockman’s efforts in raising funds needed for the installation. He said, The electricity was very important to the school so that the fan could make the room cool and lights made it helpful when rainy or cloudy. The students seem to have fun and more energy to learn than before. The class doesn’t waste time to wait for the rain to stop because of it being dark.

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Most importantly, the teachers and kids are so happy with the cool fans also. All of us at the village would like to say a big thanks to all the donors that supported the Lockman’s goal and made this rural school in Laos cooler and brighter. It makes it easier to encourage the students to continue to pursue their education. The JW teams hope to welcome our friends the Lockmans when they come back in the future. We want to highlight the Lockman’s efforts and thank them along with their friends and family who allowed Journeys Within and Journeys Within Our Community to help give back to the local community. We would not be able to make a difference without the support of these donations. If you would like to join the Lockman’s in supporting projects like this please visit www.journeyswithinourcommunity.org and find out how you can benefit the lives of others.

A JWOC success story: Sophin Sophary

Journeys Within Our Community supports giving 74 students access to higher education each year. Sophin Sophary was one of those students and one of only 2 women from her village to ever go to university. Here she shares a little about life since graduation …

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Name: Sophy Sophary

Age: 27

Hometown: Kor Koh village

Date of graduation: July 27, 2010 from Build Bright University

A former waitress at a Chinese Restaurant near the night market, Sophy is now the operations manager of Cambodian Self Help De-mining (CDHD). As a scholarship student, she volunteered a as a teacher in a free school program during her studies. Her current job role entails her helping people in the very poor communities and rural areas by helping to make them safe, educating the villagers and providing health care.

In her own words …

As I am a country side woman , I would like to share that in 2010 I am the second women in my village to graduate from university. Because women rights and roles are so strict, plus cultural conditions especially in the country side area, women are not encouraged to go to school.

Most parents think that their daughter don’t need to study because it’s useless. Women are taught to stay home and take care of children. This idea causes very, very bad violence in the family. I am the one who face that problem so I won’t have to see it anymore .

Now I am a de-miner and bomb disposer at my charity. I would like to advocate and to advise women that you don’t give up. Try to catch an opportunity to go to school, and you can do same thing as the men ….

How has the JWOC scholarship helped you:      

  •   I could eat good food — JWOC always called all scholarship for dinner meeting. Before I would just stay in my small room and eat 1 egg in a day with Fish source.
  • I could finished my school which pushed me to see the challenges in our society.
  • Showed me how huge the world is.
  • Make me stronger and more confident
  • Show me the direction of my life and the way I should go
  • Teach me about how to work and help people in community

What is your advice to our current JWOC scholarship students:     

  • Try your best in school — you will no regret in the future!
  • Study the subject you like and within your own ability.
  • Try to get involved in community activities by volunteering — it is a good practice and you will use that experience in your future job.
  • Keep your good attitude.
  • Keep your Scholarship Opportunity in your hand till you graduate.

What have been your notable achievements since leaving JWOC:

  • Raise my payroll.
  • Continue master degree.
  • my attitude has changed — I am more responsible.
  • support 3 poor kids in my home village
  • have sent 1 of my young brother, 1 of my young sister and 4 of my cousins to school in Siem Reap.

Congratulations Sophy from the JW team on all your success and on your undoubtedly bright future!