In December a small team of volunteers from Campbell River travelled to Cambodia and Vietnam to participate in a humanitarian mission.
Among the group was grade 12 Carihi student, Charis Tazumi.
This was Tazumi’s first humanitarian trip and she knows it won’t be her last.
The team worked alongside the American organization, We Love Kids, in Cambodia. They work to provides educational services to local children.
“We ran day camps with the children, some of whom were living as a part of ethnic minority groups, in the communities of Kratie and Snoul,” said Tazumi. “These day camps included both Cambodian and Vietnamese children.”
Each member of the team was responsible for leading a ‘summer camp-style’ activity with the local children and youth who attended the camps.
In addition to leading the day camps, the team organized a soccer tournament in Snoul for teams from the village.
They donated over $2,000, with the help of many generous Campbell River donors, to go towards education in the communities and provided two soccer teams with new equipment and uniforms.
Tazumi feels thankful to have been able to spend time with the children and youth of the two communities.
“It’s sad that we had so little time to spend with them, but I think that we created a memory for them that will stay with them forever,” Tazumi said.
The team then travelled to the north of Vietnam, where they participated in a wheelchair distribution with Hope Haven International, another American organization.
“[The organization] shipped the wheelchairs from Guatemala to Vietnam,” said Tazumi, “We then distributed over 200 of them to those in need in the cities of Thai Binh, Hai Phong and Ha Nam.”
Tazumi is a Leadership student and an active member of Carihi’s Interact Club.
“My interest in humanitarian work developed in high school, for sure,” she said, “but a lot of my interest has stemmed from my mom, Thanh Tazumi. She is a huge advocate for volunteering not only in the community, but internationally as well. Just seeing the affect she has had on peoples’ lives really inspired me to want to do the same thing.”
Overall, the experience was eye opening for Tazumi.
“When you’re in Canada you can look at statistics or watch the news, but when you’re in the middle of it and you get to develop relationships with these people, it’s really powerful,” she said.
“The trip made me want to do more and reminded me to be grateful for what we have here.”
The trip inspired her to develop a new mindset that she would like to share with her peers.
“I think we often get into this habit of routine complaining of ‘we have to do this, we have have to that,’ but after seeing so many people with so little, it shifted my perspective from ‘I have to do this’ to ‘I get to do this.’”