Canada Bay Club’s Kate Gives Back in Cambodia

Where there’s someone in need, a hand to be offered or a load to be taken Kate Gabriel, Duty Manager at the Canada Bay Club can often be found at the front of the line.  With her role at the Canada Bay Club allowing her to influence lives at the local level, Kate’s passion extended to beyond our borders, and to the rural districts of Cambodia, with her having recently returned from the 2014 help2help tour.

Long standing members of Clubs NSW community, Blayne and Faye Webb went on a family holiday to Cambodia in 2011 where they witnessed first-hand the impoverished communities in the outlying areas of the city of Siem Reap, and the desperate need for assistance, particularly in schooling, and housing. The inspiration for help2helpwas born. Community Clubs have been strong in their support of the program.

The eight day program commenced in Cambodia’s capital, Phnom Penh and finished in Siem Reap. With many opportunities to engage with the local community, and immerse in the colourful culture, including a festive barbecue, home stay experience as well as visit world famous sites such as The Killing Fields and a one thousand year old bridge, the primary purpose for the team was to pack and transport food, stationery and other items to remote villages.

This trip, the team’s specific goal was to complete the construction of a house for ‘Old Lady.’ Known only by this name, she had no home, yet cared for her children’s children, with up to eight in her care, as well as providing anything she could to orphans, the elderly and the ill. With hard work, long days in bone numbing humidity, the team finished her house, to which she was overwhelmed and joyous to receive.

Kate’s experience has truly changed her life. Witnessing first-hand the horrendous poverty and dreadful living conditions suffered by so many, particularly the children was heart-wrenching. Kate says ‘some young boys had one pair of shorts between the two of them,’ and ‘finding eleven year olds caring for their siblings, abandoned by parents who had gone to Thailand to prostitute for drug money. Those days were gut-wrenchingly sad.’ But also witnessing hope, the ability of the human spirit to see possibilities, no matter how limited was uplifting and enlightening. ‘There was still so much laughter and fun from the village people.’

Kate went hoping to make a small difference, build a house, and deliver some food and supplies. What she came away with was so much more. An understanding of how truly grateful people can be for the smallest of gifts, and how very fortunate we are.

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