Engineering a Childhood for Rural Cambodian Children
Adrian Paschkow, 41, left his cushy job when he was 31, after being an Engineering Technician at Bosch for 11 years. Why? The Australian national felt unfulfilled despite holding a high position. Thus, he turned away from the corporate life and towards a whole new world – traveling.
Wanting to make a difference, Adrian spent one and a half years voyaging across Australia and Asia. He even started a company in Indonesia for three years, but it ultimately failed.
Journeying on the road less travelled, Adrian eventually moved to rural Cambodia with his then-girlfriend-now-wife, Maya Koyanagi. The country captured his heart and steeled his permanence to stay.
While in Pursat, Cambodia, Adrian and his friends chanced upon a bunch of kids and realised that they lacked informal education and personal development opportunities.
Hence, in 2015, Adrian and his wife started the Australian charity Tuk Tuk For Children (TT4C) to engage and stimulate the young minds of Cambodian children.
By fostering their inquisitive nature through thought-provoking questions and informal education, TT4C encourages the pursuit of education and good school attendance. Furthermore, exposing them to the different possibilities of their futures widen their horizons and enable these youthful minds to dream bigger.
As many of them start working at a young age, Adrian tried to give these disadvantaged children a childhood by screening movies but power was a problem – cows walking by would trip over the multiple extension leads that were connected to a neighbour’s house 30 metres away. Hence, Adrian equipped a Tuk Tuk with a 32-inch television, traveling to six villages in the Pursat province to screen educational clips and children movies.
But why go through all this trouble when you can just give money?
Adrian learnt a lesson the hard way. He recounts his most memorable experience in Cambodia – when money did not help as expected. The family his friend was providing for grew arrogant and demanding, declining to pay back their debts in the village, claiming that “foreigners were helping them now”.
“I realised that a one-size-fits-all approach (e.g. just giving money) is ineffective with eradicating poverty; each solution has to be catered to the family and individual based on their circumstance,” Adrian emphasises.
Taking the unconventional path, Adrian abandoned his corporate suit and tie for a t-shirt, shorts and dirty hands, ensuring a better life for the children of rural Cambodia.
His heart is fulfilled – what about yours?