Maldon residents Lauren Adele Stevens and her Dad, Ian Stevens, have once again headed off to Cambodia to continue working at Lauren’s Phnom Penh office with her local Cambodian team.
Lauren told the Times, “My non-profit organisation, Community Generation, has very excitingly continued our long-term partnership with Reece Plumbing, having partnered earlier this year with the newly launched Reece Foundation (reecefoundation.charity).” The pair, affectionately known as ‘The Stevo’s’, are the face of the Reece Foundation.
“Our new partnership with Reece Foundation has allowed Community Generation to grow as an organisation. We have also partnered with Australian Volunteers International (AVI). Community Generation identified that, alongside our important clean water, sanitation and hygiene builds and projects in rural Cambodian schools and communities, there is a need for up-skilling and training. Cambodia has the largest youth population in South-East Asia due to the still recent and harrowing genocide. 65% of the population are under the age of 30, and more than 50% are under the age of 24. Alongside our WASH projects, Community Generation will commence a new project delivery of up-skilling and training local Khmer peoples with life-changing plumbing and maintenance skills delivered by fully qualified Australian plumbers,” she said.
Community Generation and Reece Foundation invited qualified Australian plumbers to apply to volunteer with Community Generation for the month of July in Cambodia.
“We received 94 applications of interest from around Australia. Through our interview process, we selected six qualified plumbers to come to Cambodia for our first July volunteer project. It was like speed-dating tradies!” said Lauren.
Community Generation is calling their July project the ‘Pilot Project’. They are intentionally keeping the volunteer number small to enable them to ‘test and learn’ with the idea of growing the project and increasing the number of volunteers in-country moving forward.
“In July our six plumbing volunteers, alongside our local Khmer masons, will build two school projects in Kampong Chhnang Province. This includes the construction of our water well-fed, large-scale Community BioSand Filters, private and safe toilet blocks, handwashing stations, water harvesting tanks and edible gardens. Our health and hygiene education program will also be integrated into the school curriculum. We will be delivering our household BioSand Filters to 200 homes in the villages that have never had access to safe and clean water before. We are also ‘pumped’ to commence our Tank Project. This will see our plumber volunteers fit off school and household water tanks. The villages can start harvesting water during the monsoonal season and learn how to keep that water safe from disease-causing contaminants. This will allow them to grow fresh produce to eat and sell at the village markets, creating a new enterprise and economy,” said Lauren.
Community Generation will now take qualified Australian plumber volunteers to the field three times a year and welcome applications from tradies who would love to give back.
“Our organisation’s motto is ‘helper not hero’, and we would love any Aussie plumbers who are motivated to proudly use their skills as plumbers to give back to disadvantaged Cambodian communities to apply to volunteer with us,” said Lauren.
Community Generation uses a holistic approach to their WASH projects in rural Cambodia. While they are thrilled to have developed and implemented this new plumber volunteer-delivered Tank Project in July, they are also thinking bigger.
Lauren added, “We are always looking for Cambodian-appropriate ways to broaden our positive impact in Cambodia with access to clean water and sanitation. Now we are linking our WASH projects with a more robust education component with up-skilling and training. Ultimately, our next goal is to develop a fully qualified and registered plumbing trade certificate program in Cambodia and open a trade school in Phnom Penh, which will allow Aussie plumbers to volunteer their time and get qualifications to teach in our school.”
The goal is to deliver plumbing education and qualifications to this incredibly young, poor and disadvantaged Cambodian population to equip them with the skills and opportunities to become not only sustainable but to one day thrive!
This article appeared in the Tarrangower Times, 24 June 2022.