Hennessy sheltering the homeless

Now into its third year, the Hennessy Catholic College Cambodia Social Justice immersion trip continues to be a success with a total of seven houses now being built in the local villages of Siem Reap.

Hennessy College students work side by side with residents of the village

Hennessy College students work side by side with residents of the village

Continuing on the good work of past years was the main aim when staff and students flew out to Cambodia recently for the school’s social justice immersion program which sees students come to grips with a country which is still struggling for basic needs.

Prior to leaving, the students raised enough money for the cost of materials for two houses and the students paid for their accommodation, meals and airfares.

The travelling party of 34, left Young and Sydney on July 1, before returning home on July 9. In just a bit over the space of a week, lives were changed in both Cambodia and for the students from Young.

Joining in from St Joseph’s Catholic Primary School, Boorowa, was the School Principal, Brendan Maynard and the Religious Education Coordinator, Paul Corcoran. Both men went along adopting the school’s theme of ‘Reach Out to Others,’ something which they did in earnest.

The opportunity of going to Cambodia was not lost on St Joseph’s School Principal. Speaking before he left, Mr Maynard spoke about the significance of the immersion program.

“The children who go are in Year 11. It is an incredible opportunity to see the world, but more importantly to make a difference in the world,” he said.

It is an eye opening experience to the hardships that people have and a recognition of how blessed we are, but also an opportunity to realise that we are called to make a difference in the world. Further more that we can make a difference.”

Hennessy students contributed $3000 to the Sisters of Mercy Orphanage in Phnom Penh and they also provided further donations to local village schools.

Always of interest, the Catholic Voice caught up with two of the students to see what they learnt from the trip.

JANE LEHANE: The best part of my experience in Cambodia was going and working at the village, making a difference to a Cambodian family’s life. Being a part of this village for three days made me realise how much we take for granted. The children in the village were so happy to receive small gifts such as a single balloon. I enjoyed interacting with the children, learning their language and sharing our culture with them. It also was an eye opener to realise that they have no refrigeration and limited cooking facilities. It was also a real cultural experience as we got to try some of their traditional foods including, spiders from a spider village. I would recommend for anyone to take on the experience and hope to one day go back over and make a difference to another village.

BRENT SHOARD: To say that we, as Australians are lucky, would be an understatement. From experiencing the mass killing fields in Phnom Penh, witnessing the extreme poverty of the village people who lay sleeping on ant nests and the young children who beg for money to provide for their family, I have discovered there is not a singal word to describe just how blessed we truly are.

Every single student who travelled to Cambodia knew that it wasn’t just going to be another ordinary holiday with their friends. It was a trip that would change our views of the world, a trip that would change our lives, and place a new perception on the place we call home.

From exploring the temples of Angkor Wat to building houses for the family, who are less fortunate than we are, the one place that captured many of the hearts of us students was the orphanage.

It was here where we learnt the stories of how these children have come to be at the Sisters of Mercy Orphanage, which really made us think of our family and how lucky we are to grow up in a society where we are so privileged. As well as, how lucky those children are who are at the orphanage who now have new opportunities available to them.