Students want to make a difference

Bags nearly packed: Campbellhouse school representatives Isabella Donnachie, Jadzia Lederer, Kendell Neighbour, Marisa Pjanic, Dale Clarke, Alex Williams and Ebony Mussett will visit Cambodia. Picture: Simon Bennett
Bags nearly packed: Campbellhouse school representatives Isabella Donnachie, Jadzia Lederer, Kendell Neighbour, Marisa Pjanic, Dale Clarke, Alex Williams and Ebony Mussett will visit Cambodia. Picture: Simon Bennett

Campbell House School students and their teachers will fly to Cambodia in July to learn about the disadvantage other communities face.

The Glenfield high school caters for teenagers with severe mental health and behavioural issues.

During the trip students will work with Cambodia Rural School Trust to provide lessons for orphaned or poverty-stricken Cambodian children.

Principal Marisa Pjanic said the trip would help students to see the world “through a different lens”. 

“A few of these kids may have never left Glenfield before,” she said.

“It shows them that they have a valuable place in the world and provides them with skills they can take with them for the rest of their lives.”

Year 11 student Isabella Donnachie had complex issues with mainstream schooling as a result of being bullied and her struggles with learning.

She also spent some time in an adolescent mental health facility.

Isabella said she wanted to learn about a different culture and realise the privilege she has at home.

“I’m looking forward to experiencing a new way of life,” she said.

“We have so many opportunities here that they don’t have.

“I am hoping to take away a better understanding of this culture and really appreciate what I have here.”

Isabella and her fellow students have worked together to come up with lesson plans and activities for the children they will meet.

Fellow student Dale Clarke said he was looking forward to working with the Cambodian children.

The year 10 student has been diagnosed with anxiety and depression.

Dale said the Cambodia trip was another learning opportunity for him.

“We’ve planned activities for (the children) that are fun and educational,” he said.

“I’m looking forward to seeing a different culture and making a difference in my life as well as theirs.”

The Campbell House School community have also been raising funds to build a house for an impoverished Cambodian family.

The trip came about because of a chance meeting between Ms Pjanic and Melbourne businessman, Aviv Palti.

The two met at a yoga retreat in Thailand and realised they work in similar ways to try and break the cycle of disadvantage.

Palti is the founder of the Cambodia Rural School Trust and helps to fund the Campbell House program.

Ms Pjanic said the students would have a lot of support in Cambodia.

“At the end of each day we will sit down and process each day,” she said.

“When you’re faced with real poverty it can be very emotional but this is an incredible opportunity for the students.

“I feel honoured to lead them on this trip and if this can potentially change their lives, even in some small way, it is worthy of our support.”