Scholarship winner shares her “unique and humbling” award experience

The last time we heard from Julie Scharf, Queensland Country Credit Union, she was busy fundraising and preparing for her Harry Zaphir Scholarship prize– an insider’s view into some of CUFA’s empowering development projects in Cambodia.

Julie has since returned from her life-changing trip where she saw first-hand how CUFA works to improve livelihoods and alleviate poverty.

“Spending an unforgettable seven days throughout the provinces of Cambodia was a unique and humbling experience…

Before setting off to Cambodia I raised over $4,500 to assist in CUFA programs such as the Village Entrepreneur (VE) Program. The fundraising itself was hard work, but rewarding with so many of my colleagues from ECU and QCCU helping out.

I met the board of the local agricultural co-operative (credit union) and we discussed how well the credit union was going and what it is doing for the local communities – reinvesting profits back into the credit union and villages. They have recently moved to using a computer and software to record transactions and calculate interest – something they used to do manually! The credit union continues to grow and the board were very passionate about helping members and the villages within the area.

I could see the benefits of the VE Program and how it can help to lift an individual and their family out of poverty and support the village in which they live.  One lady told me how she was upset that she could not send her own daughter to school as she could not afford to do so.  She then joined the VEP about a year ago and is now helping to send her grandson to school! Each VE appreciated the support and they all said they would continue to implement what they have learned and continue to run their microbusinesses.

I was also fortunate enough to also visit a local primary school in Takeo Province.  I sat in a class and learned about the Children’s Financial Literacy program (CFL) … The teacher said this program has helped to make a difference in the children’s spending behaviours and that many already have some savings.”

–       Julie Scharf, Queensland Country Credit Union

2016 Recipient of the Harry Zaphir Scholarship Prize