It all started with a passion to help developing countries: Cindy Debes (founder & CEO) travelled to Cambodia to make a difference.
Cambodia is a developing country filled with beauty, laughter and wonder. However you can't overlook the poverty of its people and the struggle they go through, as they seek to build a better future. We came across a small village with a tuk tuk driver dedicated to offering education to his village children. I was amazed by the work he was doing. This experience changed my life and JUST THERE, BEHIND THE TEMPLES OF ANGKOR WAT, HANDS ACROSS THE WORLD started!
We saw the empty classrooms caused by the lack of qualified teachers . . .
We developed a program to train teachers so kids won´t drop out of school
Hands Across The World is Founded
In 2013 Cindy and Sarah went to Cambodia for the first time. Their personal mission to help children to find a better way in life. On their travels, through Cambodia and through the learnings from incredibly hard-working NGOs, they found out about the extent of the horrors of sexual exploitation, human trafficking and human slave labour. The stories of the survivors and the stories of the relatives of missing people, everything they saw, experienced and felt never left their hearts and they kept coming back to find a way to prevent these atrocities. These were the beginnings of Hands Across the World. HATW continued to grow and work in disadvantaged Cambodian communities: building schools, supplying books and classroom resources.
An Investigation - School Systems in Siem Reap
During 2014-2015, poor school attendance and empty classrooms gave HATW a reason to investigate. Some of the factors which affect Khmer children going to school are:
the fear of education still exists (due to the history of the rule of the Khmer Rouge which opposed individual education);
children need to stay home to help their family;
lack of school materials and infrastructure;
lack of qualified teachers and ineffective teaching methods.
In Siem Reap half of the population lives in poverty, especially in rural communities where education is hard to access. This is due to education costs or sometimes the way to school can be long and dangerous especially during the monsoon season. Many children work to support their families instead of going to school which is necessary for a better future.
The high drop out rate and low motivation was discouraging. Hands Across the World was committed to improving education in developing countries. Kind-hearted teachers from poor communities, who often have not received any training or higher education themselves, take over or contribute to the education of their village children. Building schools isn't worth anything without WELL TRAINED STAFF.
Teacher Training Pilot Launched in 2016
The answer was clear: the best way for HATW to move forward and help schools in Cambodia is to provide teacher training. So, the “Interactive Teacher Training” program was born. The demand and interest following our pilot program was overwhelming. We have developed our programs and worked hard to ensure we can reach as many teachers as possible and continue to build on the positive impact we bring to children in Cambodian schools.