By Alistair Coulstock

The second round of Collaborative Future Cambodia – Build Against the Traffick has commenced. Following on from last year’s success, this year looks to be every bit as good.

The programme last year saw the collaboration between not-for-profit organisation RAWimpact, University of New South Wales (UNSW) and volunteers from the construction industry. It combined a university course with a real life project where a team of volunteers built two new homes for two Cambodian families in need, replacing rotting, leaking and unsafe houses.

Last month we started the first lecture at the University of NSW (UNSW) for the course – Sustainable Energy in Developing Countries. An elective that this year has seen over 60 students enrol, almost double the amount from last year. This year’s collaboration between Cundall, UNSW and RAWImpact has a few differences from last year. The location has changed from the target village used last year. Currently there is another Non-Government Organisation (NGO) working consistently in Chaom Trach, so Troy Roberts of RAWImpact felt it was time to provide assistance to another area of desperate need.

Ko Ki village in the Kratie (pronounced Krachay) Province is a small village six hours north east of Phnom Penh. The village comprises of displaced people from other areas of Cambodia. They have been unceremoniously ‘dumped’ at this location with next to nothing but the clothes on their backs and some concrete rings to make some toilets out of.

Therefore although these people have been provided some land to call their own, that is all they have. Infrastructure is non-existent, the houses are very rudimentary make shift huts and there is a school building in the village with only one teacher who attends on a casual basis.

Collaborative Future Cambodia 2014 and the students at UNSW are gearing up to assist these villagers by way of designing a multipurpose building for the villagers to use. The students have been split into groups of seven and so far have been provided the brief, a lecture on Thermal Comfort and Passive Design, Energy in Cambodia and an outline of their course objectives.

Last Tuesday we hooked up a Skype call with Troy in Cambodia for the students to ask pertinent questions about the conditions in the village and about the project and life in Cambodia itself. A raft of background information was unearthed and so many questions from the students that we ran out of time.

A great start to the course and one with so much potential to make a difference to the lives of some of the poorest people in the world.

Here’s looking forward to another year of inspiring designs from the students, culminating in an adventure to Cambodia to build the winning design in January 2015.

Who is up for coming out?

If you are, make contact


Students that took the elective last year found the course extremely inspiring and practical (overall CATEI score was 5.6/6) The students particularly noted the advantages of working with a real client, close interaction with industry, and working in collaboration with students from a range of disciplines.

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Join the conversation! 2 Comments

  1. 60 students flying out to Cambodia from Australia – i make that about $60,000 on flights. No doubt the students all feel very good about themselves but could this money be better spent. $60,000 will get you a lot of materials for housing not to mention paying for local construction jobs and giving the local economy a much needed boost.


  2. Rob,

    Thank you for your comment. I agree with you in terms of money being better spent… if you were only focussed on the money side of the equation.
    This project is not just focussed on philanthropy, which in my view on it’s own does not work.
    The purpose of the charity that we are supporting – RAWimpact – is key to this venture. Their purpose is to eliminate child trafficking. They are doing this via strengthening villages (poverty is the leading cause of trafficking in Cambodia) and intervention; training Cambodian police to break trafficking rings. We are obviously supporting the former goal.

    RAW stands for ‘Raising Awareness Worldwide’ for lasting social impact.

    Our project does the following:
    • Students get to work in a team environment that breaks the silos of Uni faculties learning in isolation
    • Emulates the processes of industry and in mixed teams just like industry
    • Connects industry with education sector and non-profits
    • Has a real outcome instead of theory based learning
    • Has a positive outcome on society and environment

    RAWimpact will be running education initiatives about agriculture, health, safety etc from this building to empower the community so they can look after themselves in the long term.

    This is about sustainable livelihoods.

    For me personally it’s about creating young emerging leaders with a social and sustainable conscious.

    The world’s problems are because we only focus on the money side of the equation. When the world is not just about money.

    I hope this answer assists in your understanding of our project a little better.

    Please contact me if you wish for more information. Cheers



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