University students head to Cambodia on mission trip
Last updated 09:02, October 21 2016
Two weeks of scorching heat in one of the world's poorest countries lies ahead for Matthew McQueen.
The 23-year-old Aucklander is one of a group of five university students heading to Cambodia to volunteer for Catalyst, a North Shore based micro-franchise organisation.
McQueen and the group, Unify, will spend two weeks in November building 20 poultry coops on Catalyst's development farm in Kampot, a village not even tourist buses pass through.
The coops will supply enough chickens for 65 families to help them work their way out of poverty.
"The reality is we are going to be a little bit in the middle of nowhere which has quite a lot of risks involved. It's an exciting and unique opportunity," McQueen says.
"A few from our group have done trips like this but this is my first time which is quite exciting."
Catalyst provides business-based solutions to poverty for entrepreneurs in Cambodia to enable self-sufficiency, empowerment and personal growth.
The Unify team attend St Paul's Church in Auckland. This year, their community work has included lifting fellow students' spirits with 40 acts of compassion during exam time.
McQueen is completing a conjoint degree in engineering and finance at the University of Auckland and says most of the group hope to harness their business skills through the trip.
The students had a desire to head overseas on a mission and, through St Paul's, they connected with Catalyst co-founder and chief executive Gerard Wakefield.
Wakefield says this is the first group to volunteer with the organisation in Cambodia. He hopes it will open the door for other groups to work with Catalyst in the future.
"I think it's going to be an amazing experience and something which will have a significant impact on the choices they make and their life experiences," Wakefield says.
"We've got a group of dedicated young adults who are going through a difficult financial time as students, yet they're sacrificing their time and money to come over and help people.
"It says a lot about the calibre of them...it's a life-changing experience money can't buy."
The team is hosting fundraising raffles and events in the lead up to their trip, which will help them get to Cambodia and pay for the chicken coop materials.
Go to givealittle.co.nz/cause/helpunifyteam to donate to the Unify team.