Building classrooms in Cambodia has been a ‘real eye-opener’ for Worthing bank manager Nikki Hooper.
She was part of a team of Santander staff from across the UK who travelled to south-east Asia to help build much-needed classrooms for a school 35km north of Siem Reap.
The Cambodia Community Challenge 2018 was also supporting the bank’s charity partners, Age UK and Barnardo’s, through fundraising and the £160,00 raised will help transform the lives of older and younger people across the UK.
Nikki, branch manager at Santander West Worthing, said: “This trip has been incredibly rewarding and a real eye-opener. It’s been fantastic to be able to come out to Cambodia and both work and live with the local community and help with a project that will have such long lasting benefits.
“As well as help those in Cambodia, we’re also delighted that we’ve also raised funds for our charity partners, Age UK and Barnado’s, and we thank all those customers, colleagues, friends and relatives who have supported us.
“Cambodia is one of the poorest countries in south-east Asia, with limited education in most rural areas. The limited access does not only affect the quality of education but also healthcare, economic and community development - the things we take for granted every day. Rapid population growth exacerbated the problem.”
She said the work to build five classrooms at Chansar Junior High School contributed to the strengthening of the community.
“Helping to reduce poverty throughout the community by starting with education will benefit everyone from the young to the elderly,” she added.
The school, in one of the poorest areas of the country, had an urgent need for extra capacity to increase the opportunities for children’s education in rural areas, which are currently very limited.
The pressure on the school’s resources is set to increase even further as the number of pupils is expected to grow from around 430 to around 600 in the next five years.
Nikki worked alongside a local construction team, helping with moving bricks, clearing rubble, digging drainage trenches and laying foundations. She then stayed with a family in the village.