College students prepare to fly home 

STAWELL - A group of Stawell Secondary College students who embarked on an amazing adventure in Cambodia, will arrive home this Sunday.

The students flew out of Melbourne Airport on Thursday, January 17 to embark on a 10-day adventure in support of aid organisation Samaritan's Purse. Students chose the option of undertaking the Cambodia trip in lieu of attending the traditional 'Schoolies Week'.

The reality of the trip hit home when the students attended a full day's training at the Stawell Secondary College just prior to their departure.

Students had been busy fundraising for the past 12 months, after the trip was first organised, to enable them to meet the altruistic goals of Samaritan's Purse.

Students raised in excess of $8000 for water projects and filled 326 boxes with educational, sports, clothing, hygiene and play items for orphans.

The task of Stawell students while in Cambodia has been to construct concrete bio sand water filters for communities, helping paint a new school, preparing and delivering hygiene lessons and visiting four orphanages where they will distribute the gift boxes.

The project was the initiative of Stawell Rotary Club. Rotarian and coordinator of the Stawell effort, Wendy Slorach, said it would not have happened without the support of the organisations and individuals in Stawell and district who stepped up right from the start and continued their backing throughout the year.

Students had to pay for their own airfares and expenses in Cambodia but had to show Samaritan's Purse that they were serious about their commitment to making a difference by working hard to raise awareness and provide the funding and boxes to make a difference in Cambodia.

Church groups, Stawell and St Arnaud Probus, the Stawell Bowling Club, Stawell and Wallaloo East Golf Clubs, Stawell and district businesses, individuals who purchased wood at inflated prices, knitted and sewed or donated toys, sports equipment clothing, hygiene products, education materials, money or ran fundraising events; an army of people from Northern Grampians Shire Council and beyond threw themselves into the effort and supported the students.

While in Cambodia, the students have visited Toul Sleng Museum and the Killing Field, a new life foundation English skills training school, a resettlement community and new health centre. Other itinerary items include a visit to the Safe Migration organisation which deals with trafficking of young people, a look at how Cambodian students are educated in the raising of chickens for income, a visit to a future school reconstruction site and visiting communities to construct the bio sand filters.

The students will return home this weekend having also been able to experience the historical sites of Angkor Wat, enjoy a river cruise, sample all the traditional foods local cuisine has to offer and explore colourful markets.

Northern Grampians Shire Mayor, Cr Wayne Rice and Rotary President Mr John Launder, attended the training day and spoke of the wonderful opportunity and value of participating in the excursion.

Stawell Rotary Club is eager to offer the opportunity to students once again at the end of 2013. Any students interested are urged to contact Wendy Slorach at the Stawell Secondary College when the new school year commences.

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