Residents at St Ives Albany raise resources
For the past three years, St Ives Albany Retirement Village Resident Rita Westerberg has travelled to Cambodia twice and has become deeply inspired by the people and their stories.
Rita supports the Shinta Mani Foundation, an organisation that aims to improve the lives of Cambodians by providing opportunities to overcome poverty. Since 2004 the Shinta Mani School of Hospitality has trained under-privileged Cambodians in hotel operations and has helped graduates find employment for a brighter future – free of charge.
In 2006, the foundation began new ways to support rural families and seeks to empower these families through education, health care and direct assistance. Methods of improvement within the communities include training locals in more efficient farming methods and encouraging them to plant herbs and other crops that they can sell. They teach people to make jewellery or to paint and produce items for sale.
The Shinta Mani Foundation also runs hotels to help support local communities and this is how Rita became aware of and involved in the foundation.
“The foundation runs a hotel at Angkor Wat and five dollars from every unit goes towards improving the lives of the locals,” said Rita.
“The locals talk to guests at the hotel every day to improve their English and guests can also go out on a tour into the rural communities and meet locals who have so little. Girls do not go to school as they need to collect water for their villages. The people are so happy and caring even though they are so poor,” she said.
Rita has lived at St Ives Retirement Village Albany for the past two and a half years and decided to make her fellow residents aware of the foundation she supports. Residents in the village were more than happy to become involved, with only a small donation of one dollar per month required to make significant changes in the Cambodian villages.
“One dollar a month is such a small amount for most people living in Australia and it can have such a big impact on many lives in Cambodia,” said Rita.
With over 60 residents and staff at St Ives Albany donating just one dollar per month, they have managed to raise enough money this year to build a new water pump for a village in Cambodia and are well on the way to having raised enough for a second pump.
“By raising this money, a village now has a well and water pump which means that the girls can go to school rather than collecting water,” Rita said.
If you would like more information about the Shinta Mani Foundation, or to find out how you can get involved in the fundraising, visit the website shintamanifoundation.org