Warrnambool volunteers continue to support Cambodian children and families hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic.
The Taksenkangbloung Community Centre, founded by Warrnambool sisters Rebecca and Emma Burchell and their mother Jenny seven years ago, has provided aid to up to three quarters of the village located near Siem Reap in Cambodia since the pandemic hit in March.
New committee member Sheree Duncan, of Warrnambool, said the centre had never looked stronger at the start of 2020, with village leaders and families identifying they were capable of providing food for their children and prioritising educational engagement.
"It was apparent that the community's living standard had evolved since the early days of operation, affirmingly and demonstrating the positive socio-economic impacts that the community centre has had," she said.
She said the committee started looking towards a new goal - supporting children as they pursued an education.
Uniforms, tutoring, transportation, regular IT classes and two new English teachers would be provided at the centre to help achieve the committee's new objective.
But come March, the centre took a severe hit as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.
Schools temporarily closed and Ms Duncan said "it fast became evident that without international tourism into Cambodia, many parents were suddenly out of work".
The community centre's new teachers were stood down, the internet was disconnected and all other costs associated with education were stopped.
Yet despite many hurdles, volunteers continued to distribute rice, eggs and soap to families.
A crisis support model was developed and by the start of June, the community centre was helping nearly 40 families.
That number has since doubled, with volunteers now supporting up to three quarters of the village.
Ms Duncan said the committee hoped the centre would continue helping students to thrive in their education.
"Due to financial strain we are having to make some tough decisions at the moment around providing food aid and returning to our main goal of providing access to education," she said.
"These are relentless decision in uncertain times but with students heading back to school a new chapter will open and we have hope we will re-launch of all of our programs and continue hearing success stories from the wonderful children we support as many of them take their first tentative steps into education and others near the end of high school, with very bright futures ahead."
You can support here the community centre here.
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