Rotary is an organisation of ordinary people who do extraordinary things with the aim of making a difference. With all work being done by volunteers to ensure 100% of the money donated gets to the communities who need it most.
In 2012 Rithy Ann a local Cambodian tour guide led RC South Melbourne member Bronwyn Stephens to Bosala after it was devastated by outbreaks of cholera, typhoid, dengue and pneumonia.
Immediately the District 9800 Rotary Club moved into action by providing the village aid with food, clean drinking water and emergency medical treatment and 'World of Difference' was born.
However history shows that providing emergency aid doesn't teach a village to be self sustaining and therefore an action plan was put into place. This included the help of 8 Rotary Clubs and a Rotary Global Grant .
With the money initally raised 3 fish farm dams were built, each family was given 2 steel watering cans to so they could grow vegetables and rice all year round. From RC Brighton's member Gerhard Sommer (now deceased) an innovative design for 4000 litre water harvesting system from tin roofs was designed and provided for each family in the community.
In November 2014 a 5 room school was built for 250 local children paid for by a private donor, however word got out and on the first day 800 children arrived to take advantage of the education on offer. The number has now been whittled down to 500 regualar students.
Although many objectives have been put into place many more need to be actioned before the village is completely self sustainable. Therefore a committee of Volunteers has been put into place to ensure these objectives are met. This will be achieved though on going humanitarian tours and child sponsorship for the 500 regular students.
“World of Difference” has been taking participants on combined cultural, donating and volunteering trips to Cambodia since November 2011. A particularly important type of tour offered is a schoolies alternative experience. The initial core intent of the project was to showcase what Rotary is doing in developing countries, and the project crosses several avenues of service including international and new generations.
The project has developed to actually achieve much more than the initial goal. It has facilitated 14 Rotary Clubs to be involved their own projects in communities in Cambodia, and has changed the direction and focus of many younger adults who have just completed their secondary schooling.
It has facilitated over $300,000 donations to Cambodia including building a school and providing water and sanitation to a community of 800 people. It has provided 2 shipping containers full of donations from Australia. It has developed a wonderful relationship with the Rotary Club of Phnom Penh and prompted a local Cambodian to join Rotary. He is now integral to the success of World of Difference.
During the tours we visit schools and village communities in desperate need of water filtration, crops, livestock and bicycles. At the schools we undertake volunteering and donate school resources and clothing. Importantly the tours build on the efforts of the previous tours, and projects can be monitored, repairs made or modifications adopted as necessary.
All proceeds are used back for Rotary International projects and of course with a focus on the project’s work in Cambodia. Donations are maximized because Rotarians voluntarily administer the project.
World of Difference, Chair