In 2019, Women in Travel Retail has chosen to support Friends-International, raising money for its Beauty Vocational Training and Education Support in Siem Reap.
Friends-International is an award-winning international social enterprise that has been operating since 1994. 25 years ago, founder and executive director, Sebastien Marot, landed in Phnom Penh, an unplanned visit with friends while traveling throughout Southeast Asia. Sebastien was overwhelmed and shocked by the sheer volume of children living on the streets. He quickly learned that these children wanted to go to school and get an education – and changed his plans to stay in Phnom Penh and focus his efforts on these children and youth to give them a better chance at life. Fast forward to the present day and Friends-International is now in 23 countries through partner operations and have physical offices in six. Sebastien’s vision has created an organisation focused on ‘Saving Lives and Building Futures’ of the most marginalised children, youth and their families through a number of programs which provide outreach and social services, drug & alcohol rehabilitation, support groups, remedial education, the reintegration of children back to school, as well as training and jobs to their caretakers to ensure they stay in school. And these are just a few examples! Vocational training is one of the key programs to help break the cycle of poverty and improve the lives of the most marginalised children and youth. And the most at risk is always female youth.
Marginalised female youth in Cambodia continually face many barriers to access employment including lack of education and the ability to pay for training. Often living on the streets, they are forced to work in hazardous occupations such as construction, scavenging, sex work or begging – leaving them vulnerable to health risks and abuse.
By supporting the beauty vocational training program, Women in Travel Retail will be actively taking a part in breaking this cycle.
The vocation training programs – offered to youth aged between 15-24 years of age – lead to stable and quality employment. The beauty vocational training is one of seven programs offered by Friends, including hospitality, barber, motor mechanic, electrical, welding and sewing.
The beauty vocational training program runs for eight months with a curriculum which provides market-aligned quality technical skills within a classroom environment and importantly within beauty and nail training salons. Equally important, the programs also offer psycho-social counseling, basic literacy and numeracy, Khmer and English lessons, as well as a significant focus on soft skills: personal development via confidence-building, emotion and stress management, along with collaborative working skills designed to truly empower the youth in the programs.
The program links students to a full range of basic social services such as medical referrals to hospitals, support to obtain legal documents (as many Khmer children and youth born after the Khmer Rouge ruling do not own birth certificates for example), a meal each day, transport to and from training, as well as short-term housing if required.
After graduating, the students then progress to the ‘Futures Office’ where employment experts help the students secure employment or assist them in starting a micro-enterprise. Friends has a growing network of hundreds of local businesses who accept graduates as interns, apprentices or full-time employees. For self-employment, Friends can sponsor the equipment and material needed for start-ups until they become self-sustainable (six to 12 months on average).
Last year, 43 girls studied in the beauty vocational training program:
To donate, please click here.
In its first year as a fully-fledged membership organisation for women in the travel retail industry, Women in Travel Retail (WiTR) has chosen to support Hand in Hand for Haiti in 2018 by raising a minimum of €15,000 to buy musical instruments. This will enable the launch of Lycée Jean- Baptiste Pointe du Sable’s (LJBPS) first extracurricular instrumental music program in partnership with Ecole de Musique Christian Nohel de Saint Marc (EMCN).
The benefits of music education are astounding. Studies have consistently revealed the tremendously positive effect that music education has on a child’s academic performance, sense of community, self-expression and self-esteem. But for nearly all children across Haiti, formal music education is unattainable.
Following the devastating hurricane that hit Haiti in 2010, Hand in Hand for Haiti was the first charity to receive funds raised by Women in Travel Retail, enabling the new Lycée Jean- Baptiste Pointe du Sable to purchase equipment for the kindergarten. Last year’s devastating hurricanes in the Caribbean were a stark reminder that the students in this world-class school still need our support if they are to break out of the cycle of poverty that besets Haiti, where 80% of the population still live below the poverty line.
Every child in the school will have the opportunity to discover music through these instruments, both music recognised internationally and also their own rich musical heritage. Playing an instrument gives a child self-confidence as a soloist, encourages teamwork as part of a band or orchestra and provides a wonderful opportunity to gain confidence through public performances – to other students and in their local community.
Following the terrible spate of hurricanes in the Caribbean last year, WiTR was determined to raise money to help children whose lives are time and time again blighted by natural disasters. Hand in Hand for Haiti, with its fantastic track record, was a unanimous choice by WiTR for support this year.
President and Co-founder, Hand in Hand for Haiti, Olivier Bottrie says, “We are extremely grateful for the continued support of WiTR. Haiti is a country of artists and has a long tradition of musical excellence. We are certain that introducing our children to this art will not only contribute to this tradition but also give them a sense of joy and confidence.”
To nominate a 2019 charitable project, please email contactus@WomeninTR.com.
Sunrise Angkor Learning Center opened in 2015, providing children from the Sunrise orphanage and surrounding area with quality education in the English language, information, communication and technology (ICT), Khmer traditional dance and music skills, art skill, cooking, hospitality and physical education. Currently the Learning Center accommodates 279 children/students, of which 173 students are disadvantaged children selected from surrounding communities.
With a newly developed curriculum, the Learning Center runs English classes with 2 hours per session and two shifts per day from two classrooms and a computer room (funded by WiTR in 2016). Junior and senior students have been separated into different classes and levels, however the facility has already reached its operating capacity.
In 2017, WiTR is raising funds to create a further two English and Khmer classrooms, and one Khmer traditional music room. The main purpose of this project is to improve the quality of education for unfortunate children in community and the Sunrise orphanage children, through providing the best possible free, quality education and skill development, and support their integration and prosperity in society with meaningful skills and talents.
In 2016 Women in Travel Retail (WiTR) raised more than €25,000 to build and equip two classrooms for children at the Sunrise Siem Reap orphanage in Cambodia, surpassing its €15,000 target.
The Sunrise Learning Centre caters for children from the poorest sectors of the Siem Reap community. Children are offered free classes in English, in the hope that skills learned at the school will help its students find work in the tourist city. The money was raised through the support of companies and individuals at WiTR’s lucky draw and silent auction TFWA World Exhibition. The event was supported by many brands and retailers, with cash donations from Heinemann Asia, Aer Rianta International, King Power Hong Kong Managing Director Sunil Tuli, Concourse Display Management, Circle Square, Marie Brizard Wine & Spirits amongst others.
The project was nominated by WiTR member and Lacoste Travel Retail Director Erin Lillis-Arrowsmith. “I have been to Siem Reap many times and seen the amazing work that the learning centre does, but they desperately need more classrooms and equipment to meet the demand. Learning English is so important to help the children at the orphanage and in neighbouring villages break the cycle of poverty and to give them a future,” Lillis-Arrowsmith said.
In 2015 the travel retail industry once again underlined its generosity and willingness to give to needy communities and causes with a fundraising push at TFWA World Exhibition in Cannes, raising money to provide housing for a further 30 children at the Brahmaputra Home built by TFWA Care in Guwahati, Assam, working with Lotus Flower Trust.
Women in Travel Retail organised a raffle and silent auction to raise funds Later, at the Frontier Awards Dinner – where WiTR was recognised for its contribution to the industry – Godiva CEO Mohamed Elsarky donated a further €10,000. That was followed by a €1,000 donation from Frontier Magazine and a further €500 from an anonymous donor. WiTR exceeded its target to reach €21,947.
WiTR member and Furla Global Travel Retail Director Gerry Munday commented “The generosity of many individuals and companies is so very much appreciated. Without Mohamed’s stunning gesture, we would have had to scale back our plans but this makes all the difference.”
WiTR member and World Duty Free Group Business Relations and External Affairs Director Sarah Branquinho added: “The extension to the Brahmaputra Home which already houses 25 children, will give 30 more children a safe home, regular meals and the opportunity to go to school, something that most of us take for granted. The generosity of this industry never fails to amaze me.”
WiTR pledged to raise 25,000 Euros to buy a lorry to assist in building a children’s centre operating 24/7 and home to more than 60 children orphaned by illness., a school for them and 40 other pupils, and a medical clinic to help over 3000 children and their families through preventative intervention and medical treatment.
In total, over the course of 2014 35,000 Euros was raised, with 5,000 Euros immediately released to feed orphaned children in the aftermath of the Ebola outbreak.
All As One – the charity nominated by Sharon Beecham of Dubai Duty Free – were then able to hire out the lorry to provide a steady stream of income for the home school and clinic.
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