I have been lucky enough to meet the amazing Smith family in person and am so excited to share Bron’s story of how her son, Cooper helped make such a difference to a school in Cambodia. A true adventure full of Meraki.
Planning An Adventure
During an airline sale, I grabbed some great flights to Cambodia. It was 9 months away so we had lots of time to plan our adventure. We were a family of 4 at that stage with Cooper who was 5 and Pepper who was 2.
As we sat around the dinner table one night reading books about Cambodia we shared with the kids that some children in Cambodia can’t access schooling, clothing or even food. Cooper asked what he could do about it, what we could do about it from Australia.
Cooper’s Fundraising Plan
Cooper at age 5 suggested a fundraiser to raise money to help buy kids rice and books. He knew all about fundraisers as we had done a few ourselves to help buy his wheelchair, walker and access therapy. Cooper has Dystonic Quadriplegia Cerebral Palsy due to a brain injury at birth. He knew that people had helped him and that we could help others.
We scribed for him on a piece of paper columns with names and donations and he came. up with the idea that he would try and walk 1 kilometre using his walker. Cooper was relatively new to his walker and was managing small short bursts but would tire easily.
A neighbour dropped in and Cooper got his first donation. We put the fundraiser online and Cooper spent the next 6 months training hard, every day. We linked the fundraiser to a school we discovered in Siem Reap called New Hope Cambodia.
Making a difference
The first weekend in October saw hundreds of people come to watch Cooper walk. He completed a kilometre around the Ballam Park track and successfully raised $15,000 for New Hope. This money would build a new Kindergarten classroom.
As we flew into Siem Reap from Melbourne we landed into a small airport. Heading out the doors we watched 70 kids run up to Cooper and thank him and hug him. They had homemade signs and big smiles. Despite the language barrier, we all knew what this meant to everyone.
We spent the mornings of the next week volunteering in the classrooms and meeting many new friends. Pepper and Cooper joined in the classes. Pepper sat amongst the trees painting with her new friends.
This adventure had turned into so much more than we had planned or expected. When I initially booked the lights we had no idea that it would take us in this direction. That Cooper’s ideas would totally change what our holiday would be focussed on.
When we had Woody our third child we knew we had to take him to explore Cambodia too.
We headed back to visit New Hope in 2013. The brand new school, clinic, restaurant were complete. We attended a very special ceremony which acknowledged Cooper’s contribution to New Hope and there was not a dry eye in the audience. He is so proud of his name displayed on the Honour Board and above the Kinder classroom.
It remains one of my very favourite travel memories.
Today there are over 1100 students who attend New Hope Cambodia and for more information on how you can help support them head to their website here.
Meet the Smithsholidayroad family
Hi we are Smithsholidayroad, a family of five based in Melbourne Australia who loves to travel near and far.
Travel allows us to challenge ourselves, push ourselves and prove that we are capable of anything if we just try. We travel with young kids aged 10,7 & 4 including our eldest who uses a wheelchair while we explore.
We love the thrill that exploring new places brings and the opportunities to meet new people, discover new cultures and be immersed in new experiences.
You can follow our adventures by signing up to the blog, enjoying our Instagram photos and connecting with us on Facebook.
We hope we can inspire you to get out there and explore with your family.
See you out there!
Bron, Andrew, Cooper, Pepper and Elwood.
Do you have an inspirational story? We love sharing amazing stories like Cooper’s to inspire others to make a difference while traveling. Get in touch to share yours.