JCLA ambassador on mission to help eradicate poverty in Cambodia

Miri – 25 June 2012 – A student ambassador of the John Curtin Leadership Academy (JCLA) of Curtin University, Sarawak Malaysia (Curtin Sarawak) is driving an initiative to bring to attention the issue of poverty in Cambodia.

Lim Chung Keat’s project, “A Closer Look into Kampong Speu – With a Desire to Give Back”, aims to raise awareness of poverty in Cambodia among Malaysians. It also aims to help better the livelihoods of the inhabitants of Kampong Speu Province, one of the three poorest provinces in Cambodia, by generating financial aid to build basic village facilities.

Lim using a hand pump at a village well built by SSF.

Lim, a final year finance and marketing student, hopes to share his personal journey to Kampong Speu as well as establish a link between the JCLA and the Sao Sary Foundation (SSF), an organisation founded in 1998 to improve the quality of life for children and their families living in extreme destitution in Cambodia.

Lim’s inspiration for the project came from his desire to eliminate the poverty gap between the poor and the rich. He chose Kampong Speu as his case study as it is in one of the country’s poorest provinces and has been categorised as an ‘absolute poverty’ area.

Children of Kampung Speu happily posing for the camera.

He commenced his project on 1 March 2012 and spent 4 days in Cambodia during his first semester study free week from 11 to 14 April 2012. He experienced first-hand the hardships of Kampong Speu’s inhabitants and became even more determined to highlight their plight through the mass media and provide a proper channel for funds distribution. The project is expected to be completed by the end of June 2012.

Lim credits his family for their unwavering support and assistance in funding his trip to Cambodia. This visionary youth also acknowledges co-founder and Executive Director of SSF, Vichetr Uon, who provided the crucial information, accommodation, transportation and translation service throughout the course of his project. He is also thankful to his JCLA facilitators and friends for their encouragement and words of advice.

Mural at the entrance to the Sao Sary Foundation building.

SSF takes a proactive approach in protecting children, particularly girls, families and villages from all forms of violence, exploitation and abuse, including commercial sexual exploitation, human trafficking, child labour and child marriage. Its educational programmes strive to give children the opportunities to enter school while its community development programmes focus on assisting families develop income-generating small businesses that give them the means to earn an income.

The JCLA is Curtin University’s student leadership programme developed in honour of John Curtin, the fourteenth Prime Minister of Australia and after whom the university is named, with the objectives of instilling his three core values of Vision, Leadership and Community Service.

In praising Lim for his bold effort, Curtin Sarawak’s University Life Manager Haslina Abdul Malek, who oversees the JCLA, said, “We are very proud of what Chung Keat is doing in Cambodia. We wish him every success in the project.”

A little boy rummaging through rubbish at a dump that lacks proper management.

According to Haslina, Curtin Sarawak provides potential students the opportunity to apply to be in the JCLA. They are shortlisted based on their academic performance and co-curricular activities commitment.

For more information on the “A Closer Look into Kampong Speu – With a Desire to Give Back” project or how to make donation to it, contact Lim at 012-590 8566 or e-mail [email protected]

One of the housing areas in dilapidated condition.

For more information on Curtin Sarawak, visit its website at www.curtin.edu.my or e-mail to [email protected] Curtin Sarawak can also be found on Facebook at www.facebook.com/CurtinUniversitySarawakMalaysia.

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