We couldn’t do what we do without the generous support of local non-profit organizations like Greater Newburgh Rotary Club! This is the second year in a row that they have supported the efforts of our young scholars to make a difference, both in a foreign country and the Hudson Valley!
Last week, Partner from Finkelstein & Partners, Personal Injury Attorneys Nancy Morgan represented the firm while presenting Newburgh Free Academy student Matthew Wasson with a donation towards Global to Local’s partnership program with Into the Wild. We are so grateful for their generous support!
During the meeting, Matthew expressed excitement about the donation from the local business. “It is a real inspiration knowing that business owners share the beliefs that we do and support our efforts to make a difference in the world.”
On Friday July 13th, along with three students from Global to Local, we were fortunate to head out to Manhattan Cruise Terminal to attend Peace Boat’s Education for the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals program, which focused on empowering youth to achieve the SDGs. Not only did we learn about the amazing programming offered by Peace Boat, with three trips around the planet each year, but we also learned about many of the other organizations that are working to better their communities and the world.
We met Nana Eyeson-Aki Wowo, the president and founder of African Health Now, whose organization provides information and accessibility to sustainable primary health care to women, children and families living across Sub Saharan Africa (#GhanaBound2020). Scribbling tons of notes to bring new resources back to our classrooms, we heard from Mayaan Cohen from the Alliance for Climate Education, an organization with the mission to educate young people on the science of climate change and empower them to take action. We listened eagerly to Dana Pauzaulskie from Earth Guardians, who works to empower youth as environmental leaders and amplify their voices as advocates for sustainable practices. Both of us were moved to tears by Junko Nagao’s guided meditation and inspired by La Tisha Parkinson’s reflection on her Peace Boat voyage.
We had the opportunity to sit as panelists for the main event of the afternoon and talk (read: brag) about our dedicated students and the work they just did in Cambodia. After the panels, our students had the privilege of networking with the crowd of thoughtful, future-focused environmental advocates.
We had the honor of reconnecting with Javier Valdez, the founder of MYGHT, and one of the most ardent supporters of Global to Local. Javier is the reason we were privileged enough to attend this event, bring our students to meet all of these amazing changemakers, and speak on the panel about our work. It was awesome to tell him just a little about our Cambodian adventures, and our still-green plans for next year.
A huge thank you to Peaceboat, MYGHT, Emilie McGlone, and our fantastic students for a memorable day!
I came to this country expecting to see mindsets of destruction and disaster. Nevertheless, I wouldn’t think it would be a secret itself. The country keeps its own secrets from its people. When the Khmer Rouge decided to kill roughly 2 million people, the king was nowhere to be found. He and his family were protected from the path of destruction created by the Khmer Rouge at this time. From my understanding a king is supposed to not only protect his country, but his people as well. Yet he chose to to protect himself. I bet most of the people in Cambodia didn’t know that because during the current time, the history about the Khmer Rouge is forbidden to be taught in school. Why should a native have to pay more than a tourist at Tuol Sleng or pay at all in general just to learn about the history of the country in which they live? I’m from the USA and I know not just just about my county but about many other countries as well. I’m taught most of this in school, but I seen it’s very different in this country. Cambodia is like Pandora’s box; there are so many happy spirits. I asked myself how, but I realized that these people genuinely have beautiful hearts. Their country is amazing despite all the terrors of the past.
The art within a man is the beauty within a story.
One of the 7 survivors from the devastating genocide was happy to know people still love and care.
The king lives in royal decadence.
These victims weren’t saved, but their bones were and their spirits still live.
The hope of Orphans keeps them moving and keeps visitors coming.
With love from Cambodia,
On June 25th, we visited S-21 Prison in Phenom Penh. Before the Khmer Rouge, S-21 Prison was a school. The Khmer Rouge was mainly formed by Viet Cong and a small number of Cambodians who supported communism. They used this facility as a torture center for people they suspected to be Russian spies or CIA. If the victims said “yes” they would be killed quickly, if they said “no” they tortured them until they said they were and then put them to death. Many victims lied to reserve a quick death. We were told that soldiers in the Khmer Rouge tortured their victims for fun. One method included the removal of finger nails and teeth with pliers. Another method was to whip and hang children, over cauldronsthat held blood, acid, and feces. Women and children were often raped as well.
While there, we met two of the facility’s seven survivors. In the image below, you can see Chum Mey, who had toenails ripped out and a finger broken. The finger never healed properly. The Khmer Rouge also electrocuted him causing him partial deafness in his left ear.
Another survivor we met, Buo Meng, was also put through electrocution causing him to become deaf and mute. He also witnessed his wife get raped and killed. After the Khmer Rouge genocide, they wrote books explaining what they went through in S-21. Meeting theses survivors helped put a face to all the horrible things that occurred in S-21, especially after observing all the toture equipment and images of how they were used. Speaking to the survivors also made everything connect and made it more real.
By Christina and Cherokee
Little Angels is an orphanage founded by Sery Rathana in 2002. Rathan grew up as an orphan, exposing him to the cruel conditions one has to bare as an orphan alongside his three brothers in a poor country like Cambodia. In order to get himself and his brothers an education, he had to sell cans and sand from the river. In spite of only having an education equivalent to Middle School, Rathan was able join the House of Peace Association, where he learned the skills of leather carving, and finally founded The Little Angels organization. The Little Angels is an organization through which Rathan adopts orphans, providing them with essential food, shelter, clothes, water, and the education needed to be successful in the future.
Global To Local visited the Little Angels organization on June 29th and 30th. Thanks to our supporters in the U.S, we were able to fundraise enough to donate 2 laptops, 2 routers (necessary because of the limited bandwidth access), and the capabilities to have wifi. The children at the orphanage were truly grateful for the little they had. Working with the students was amazing and educational, and they taught us leather carving so we could help them make puppets. Even with a language barrier, the communication and teamwork it took to create murals and puppets did not stop us. We even sang along to “You Raise Me Up” together as one teenager played his guitar.
Stepping back and seeing how appreciative these students were for what they have made us understand how grateful we are to be in the position we are today. The students often consume soup as it is a cheaper food option, but they enjoy eating rice, which is a luxury they cannot always afford. The appreciativeness that these students shared with us compelled Global To Local to purchase three 25lbs sacks of rice. We left this orphanage making every single one of us want to continue our volunteer work in future foreign countries, as well as in our hometown, Newburgh.
-With love from Cambodia
By Eliana, Juan and Iggy
When we visited the Wild Life Sanctuary, we were literally walking through the forest with wild animals. According to Trip Advisor, there are over 1,200 animals. Some animals were caged but others were loose such as the deer and monkeys. We saw many different animals, from monkeys, to bears, to lions, to tigers, to deer, to water buffalo.
However, what grabbed our attention the most was the people. They were carrying fruit and sugar cane to sell to us so we can feed the animals. They were strongly pushing for us to buy their products so they can support their families. This was a fundraising tour and 100% of profits went directly to the rescue, rehabilitation, care and release of wildlife. It also helped the workers who are living in poverty. They even had small children and a baby there that had no diaper on. We noticed there were many children, then learned this was a strategy used to influence tourist to give into buying their merchandise. This opened our eyes to see how poor and desperate they were to make an income. We learned that many children live so deep in poverty that their parents can’t afford to put them in school, so they end up in places like this animal sanctuary, working. I (Aiyanna) was able to talk to a ten year old girl that was following us as we traveled through the wilderness of this sanctuary. The little girl ended up there because her parents were divorced. She had other siblings but happened to be the youngest, and she also mentioned how her father was very ill and unable to get out of bed. This little girl at the age of ten was working in this sanctuary, and that has to be one thing that struck my attention the most.
By our conversation I could tell that she was very selfless, as she talked about how she was saving up money in hopes to help her father get proper medical attention. This visit to the Phnom Tamao Wildlife Sanctuary definitely made a lifetime impression for the both of us.
With love from Cambodia,
Aiyanna and Alexis
We’ve been super busy and the wifi has been a bit spotty, but here are a couple of our favorite moments in the last day and a half. Hopping on a plane to Siem Riep this afternoon! xoxo