Following a year of pure fundraising for Austin2Angkor, I wanted to find a more sustainable way to continue supporting groups doing great work in Cambodia. I fell in love with the country’s traditional krama scarves on my first trip there and saw great potential to bring local artisans’ work to a new market in the U.S. after they sold like hotcakes as part of the kick-off fundraising effort for Austin2Angkor. The idea of starting a social business excited me, and while I had zero background in running a business, the fire I had inside and the magic of the universe carried me through until krama wheel became a reality.
Inspired by my experience with Austin2Africa, I spearheaded this volunteer-run project with the mission to continue to support Build Your Future Today Center, the NGO in Cambodia where I spent time volunteering in 2010 and in whose work I deeply believe. We raised over $6,000 to build a multi-purpose Community Training Center in the remote village of Cham Resh. To this day, the space serves as a teacher dormitory and community education and meeting space. Read more about the journey on the blog.
Austin2Africa was the brainchild of a good friend of mine who opened my mind to the idea of looking beyond your own path on your travels. She started the fundraising project after spending a sabbatical in South Africa. This was a year-long fundraising endeavor spanning 2009 during which our volunteer team raised $12,000 to build an annex for an orphanage in one of Cape Town’s poorest townships. I am supremely proud of this project, and traveling to South Africa to spend time with the children, work on the annex, celebrate with the community and overall see the impact of our efforts was the pivotal moment when I realized travel’s capacity to incite life-changing action for yourself and others. While Austin2Africa is complete, learn more about the Emasithandane Children’s Home here.