A young student from the south Wales valleys is to embark on a 6,000 mile journey to Cambodia where she will spend her summer helping to rebuild the country after 30 years of war and destruction.
Dion Newton, 18, from Clydach Vale, will travel to the now peaceful Cambodia to devote her time to tackling the aftermath of decades of conflict and political instability which have made it one of south-east Asiaâ€™s least developed nations.
The Coleg y Cymoedd student was the only college student to be selected by the Voluntary Service Overseas (VSO), the worldâ€™s leading independent international development organisation which works through volunteers to fight poverty in developing countries. Rural poverty in Cambodia remains high with 35% of people living on less than 60 pence a day.
As a VSO volunteer, Dion will likely be working to tackle Cambodiaâ€™s serious food shortages, which are the result of growing population pressure, a decline in fish caused by over fishing and illegal fishing and a lack of appropriate management, regulation and enforcement.
Commenting on her upcoming volunteering work, Dion, said: â€œIâ€™ve always been interested in volunteering, but traveling to Cambodia is going to be very different to my experience of volunteering at my local charity shop.
â€œI first learned about the VSO in college; I mentioned that Iâ€™d be interested in volunteering aboard and one of my tutors helped me research and apply to the VSO. I never thought theyâ€™d get back to me, let alone give me an interview. Going to London for the interview was a little scary; I was the only one applying who wasnâ€™t in university. I still canâ€™t believe Iâ€™m going but the nerves have now turned to excitement!
â€œIâ€™m still not 100% sure on the details of what Iâ€™ll be doing while Iâ€™m there. Cambodia is struggling with so many issues like health, education, and politics; but I think Iâ€™ll be working to help protect the countryâ€™s fisheries agriculture to support the fight against food shortages.â€
Dion was introduced to the VSO volunteering scheme by her tutor at Coleg y Cymoeddâ€™s Rhondda Campus, Theresa Thomas: â€œEveryone at the college is incredibly excited for Dion and we have been working to support her in any way we can. I first learned of her interest in volunteering abroad after our class had watched a video on the poverty in India; I remember her saying â€˜weâ€™re really lucky here, arenâ€™t we?â€™â€
â€œDion has truly earned this opportunity and we are delighted to have been able to help her raise some of the Â£800 she was tasked to raise towards funding the work in Cambodia. Everyone at the College wishes Dion the best of luck and looks forward to hearing her stories when she returns in September.â€
As a VSO volunteer, Dion has been tasked with raising Â£800 to help fund the VSOâ€™s relief efforts. Her fundraising has so far been assisted by events held at Coleg y Cymoedd and the Max Club in Dionâ€™s hometown of Clydach Vale. Dion hopes that local residents and businesses will continue to raise funds for her worthy cause by making donations via her campaignâ€™s website and text facility.
To support Dionâ€™s volunteer work to aid the rural communities of Cambodia, please visit www.justgiving.com/dion-newton1 ,or, text ‘GHSL71’ & amount you wish to donate to ‘70070’.
Rhondda Cynon Taff