Lizzie is one of our Step Into The Gap volunteers based at Just Youth in Salford and is currently preparing for her overseas visit to Cambodia.
“Are you excited?” has to be the most common question I’m asked when I mention visiting CAFOD partners in Cambodia. Of course I’m excited, who wouldn’t be? But it doesn’t really tell you a lot about me or the trip, does it? It doesn’t ask the why, the what, or what I’m maybe a little apprehensive about.
I absolutely cannot wait to get to Cambodia in a couple of weeks! I’m so truly blessed to be going with the support of family, friends and CAFOD. I’ll also have the prayers and support of every single CAFOD supporter, and for that I am eternally grateful.
So, ‘the why’. I have spent the past three years working for my degree in Geography and International Development. In a nutshell, that’s why I’m excited. Development is my passion; an area I’ve felt called to work in since my first experience overseas whilst I was still in high school. Since then, I have travelled both in a group and on my own, something which has built on my knowledge, understanding and also my confidence! If I can spend a month without a shower, I can take on the world! After learning all the theories of development, I cannot wait to see them in practice and reignite the spark that travelling brings to my life.
Now ‘the what’. If you ask me that, then you better be sat comfortably! One of the most exciting, but also scary, parts of our experience has to be the home stay that is planned! To spend a night with a community, as part of the community, will be such an incredible experience. To be a part of a community rather than simply looking from the outside in will be such an honour, but also a valuable experience. This is just one of the ways we will be able to immerse ourselves into the rich culture in Cambodia. It is so much more of an honest experience than simply staying in a hotel in a tourist area. We have such a strong purpose to our trip, not only to see the amazing work the partners do, but to bring stories with us; we are in the most incredible position.
The part I absolutely cannot wait for though, and the main reason for the trip, is to see the amazing people that CAFOD works with, both partners and local communities. Of the projects we will be visiting, Connect2 Cambodia is the one I’m looking forward to the most. To be a part of the link between parishes here in the UK and their Cambodian counterparts is such an incredible prospect! Also, as this Connect2 Cambodia project is so new, we will be able to raise awareness and the profile of this project with others once we return. This will allow me to have a real life impact on not only those we will be visiting, but also parishes and CAFOD supporters here in the UK.