By Sally Hetherington OAM, CEO
This past year has seen Human and Hope Association Inc. presented with some incredible opportunities that has allowed us to build our brand, presence and fundraising reach.
In April, we held our inaugural Purpose and Philanthropy Field Trip to Cambodia, that saw our travellers immersed in the Cambodian culture, learning about the innovative approaches that NGOs and social enterprises are taking to overcome poverty and social issues. As part of this socially responsible tour, our travellers had dinner with the local Human and Hope Association team in Cambodia and were able to form lasting relationships that have cemented their support for Human and Hope Association Inc.
We sponsored Human and Hope Association Cambodia‘s Managing Director, Thai, to visit Australia. This was a
fantastic opportunity for him to meet our partners, gain an understanding of the Australian culture, and learn from subject-matter experts. Thai and myself spoke with post-graduate students at the UTS Business School about the pitfalls of voluntourism and how we can engage Australian donors to support HHA Inc. We were also proud to be guest speakers for the Macquarie University Global Leadership Program’s Foreign Affairs Speaker Series, where we reflected on the voluntourism industry and discussed best practices for empowering communities in low to lower-middle income countries.
Our inaugural ‘Walk to Cambodia’ was organised by our volunteer Events Manager, Katherine Ducker, and raised just shy of $5,000, which will provide education to 41 Cambodian children for a year. This event involved 32 participants from across the world who laced up their joggers and collectively walked the distance from Sydney to Siem Reap throughout the month of April. The feedback we received was overwhelmingly positive, as participants said they formed a healthy habit that continued past the month of April.
Additionally, I proudly launched my book, ‘It’s Not About Me’, which was published by Elephant House Press earlier this year. This manifesto details my five years living in Cambodia, and discovering that voluntourism is a problem, not a solution. The launch was hosted by Rabobank in Sydney CBD, and attended by 60 people, a mixture of our past, current and future supporters. I am grateful to Melissa Abu-Gazaleh for MC’ing the event, and our Ambassador, Amanda Webb, for moderating the panel.
As a result of the book launch, we have had some great media coverage, appearing in publications including the Daily Telegraph and Good Magazine. We were also represented on ABC Radio and the World Nomads podcast, spreading the message of the importance of empowering communities to address inequalities.
In June this year, I was incredibly honoured to receive a Medal of the Order of Australia for my contribution to the international community. I couldn’t achieve what I have without the people who have supported our unique vision of advocating for local empowerment in countries like Cambodia. I share this honour with the team at Human and Hope Association in Cambodia who prove every day that the local approach is the best approach when it comes to international development.
Our volunteer team has been growing, and I am thrilled that we have a group of people who are utilising their skills to help us raise funds and awareness for the work we support in Cambodia, whether that be through IT, public relations, fundraising, events or strategy.
In April, I also visited Cambodia and conducted our annual monitoring visit, as part of our governance process. I am pleased to report that Human and Hope Association continues to thrive, is respected by their local community, and remains transparent and accountable with the funds that we raise for them. Many of the staff at Human and Hope Association have worked there for at least four years, supporting the message that a local approach to development is an empowering and sustainable method.
And to end on a positive note on our development. As some of you may know, I have been President of Human and Hope Association Inc. for six years, always in a volunteer capacity. Our board has identified that for our sustainability, and for us to support the growth of Human and Hope Association Cambodia, we needed a paid role on our team. Next financial year I will be moving into the role of CEO so I can focus all my energy on building a community of supporters so we can continue to address inequalities faced by people in Cambodia. This is an exciting time for Human and Hope Association Inc., and I am thrilled to have you join us on this journey.
To read our 2018/19 annual report, click here.
Sally Hetherington OAM