By: Amy Zhuang, CUFA Project Officer
In the early hours of 3 August 2014, four Teachers Mutual Bank (TMB) delegates, Fiona, Jose, Giselle and Sharyn packed their bags and hopped on a plane to visit the Kingdom of Cambodia for a study tour. What awaited them was an experience like no other.
TMB are a long-term supporter of CUFA and our projects. This study tour was an opportunity for TMB to gain a deeper understanding and stronger connection to CUFA’s work. This study tour focused on the Children’s Financial Literacy Project, Credit Union Outreach Project and the Village Entrepreneur (VE) Program in Cambodia as well as cultural learning, all jammed packed into a short seven day trip.
The TMB representatives travelled to Takeo and Kompong Chhnang provinces outside of Phnom Penh to visit primary schools that are supported by CUFA as part of the Children’s Financial Literacy Project. The group engaged with the children in an informal Q&A session and played local traditional games. After school, the delegates helped the children catch rice field crabs and learnt how most Cambodian children do this after school to help make some money to support the family.
The team then visited three VEs in Kompong Thom, two of which were directly sponsored by TMB helped the VEs in running their business, this included feeding and bathing pigs, fixing customers’ bicycles and making clay products as well as planting rice. The delegates were able to learn from firsthand experience how hard the VEs worked on a daily basis.
In Takeo, Fiona, Jose, Giselle and Sharyn visited the Takeo Community Forestry Integrated Development Association Savings Bank. The team met with the savings bank members and committee members and discussed strategies to improve and grow their respective credit unions. At the end of the credit union visits, the team assisted 36 children to open a savings account and deposit savings in the Takeo province.
A study tour in Cambodia is not complete without cultural learning of the Cambodian history, food and customs. The group visited a number of cultural sites such as the Killing Fields, the Genocide Museum and Angkor Wat, where they learnt of the tragic past of Cambodia as well as the beauty that remained. They saw that despite of all the tragedy not long ago, Cambodians remain as gentle and kind people. The group also tried the infamous local cuisine – deep fried tarantula.
CUFA would like to take this opportunity to thank all our supporters and donors, without your generous support, CUFA’s work to transform the lives of some of the poorest communities in the Asia Pacific Region would not be possible. The Teachers Mutual Bank are one such supporter, and we were honoured to host its representatives, and our Cambodian staff hope to see them again in the near future.