Having just graduated from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health with a master's degree in International Health, I am finally ready to conquer a dream. The best thing about this dream, though, is that hopefully it will benefit others as much as it will benefit me. I've been brainstorming ideas to sustainably connect children in one country with children in another to provide a learning experience for everyone involved. Finally, I feel I have enough experience on both sides to bring my idea full circle and into the real world.
I call it, Connect to Care. My goal is to connect children in Cambodian orphanages and schools with children in public and private Baltimore City and County schools. On one hand, children in Baltimore can interact with children in Cambodia via email, video chat, and letters; while building a close, personal connection with their organization and holding their own fundraisers and drives to help the Cambodian organizations meet some of their needs. Children around the world will build connections, and learn about life in another part of the world. Children in Cambodia will get to teach children in Baltimore about their lives on the other side of the world.
My part in the project starts now. I'm currently working to contact various organizations in Cambodia, specifically in the cities of Phnom Penh and Siem Reap, to arrange a time to meet with them, perform a needs assessment, get to know the children and staff at the organization, and spend some time volunteering my time to get to know them better. My plan is to come back half way through the project, to pilot a connection with a school or two in Baltimore, then going back to Cambodia to assess the connection there. if the pilot test is successful, I will continue to meet with organizations in Cambodia, compiling a list to then match with schools in Baltimore upon my return.
I'm hoping to raise enough money within a couple of months so that I can travel to Cambodia, return to the United States to set up the pilot test, and then return to Cambodia to assess the pilot from that end, and to hopefully continue to build connections on both sides. The money raised will cover my travel to and from Cambodia, and costs of travel and accomodation within the country. As soon as I have a better idea of costs, I will post a detailed spreadsheet. However, please know I will not be staying in 5-star luxury hotels, but I am hoping to get a small, basic apartment in Phnom Penh for my time there.