Our Sunset, My World

Term: 4 Year: 2016

Victorian students & their school communities shared a vision to help disadvantaged Cambodian children. Over the past four years I’ve worked with my students at Aspendale Gardens Primary School raising awareness and funds for two child welfare groups in Cambodia - ODA and Flame Cambodia.

ODA (Opportunities of Development Thru Art) was first set up by Leng Touch who had himself witnessed his father being killed by the Khmer Rouge. In response to the needs of so many disadvantaged and orphaned Cambodian children, ODA expanded its mission by setting up and running seven free English night schools for around 700 students.

In Phnom Penh, FLAME CAMBODIA works with those families living in the slums. Funds raised help children to escape a life of working in the rubbish dumps so that they can instead gain an education and a future.

On July 23 2016, at Federation Square, 89 schools participated in ‘Our Sunset, My World’, the first Victoria-wide exhibition of school artwork. The exhibiton’s theme encouraged students to look and think about their own life, and to then research the life of children living in Cambodia. Students reflected and responded by creating a piece of art.

From across the state - small country schools to large secondary colleges, from private to government to special schools, Visual Arts and classroom teachers responded with their hearts. Hundreds of artworks were donated, demonstrating talent, empathy and a motivation to make a difference.

Behind the scenes, the group, ‘Have a Heart for Cambodia’, grew as we were joined by a wonderful team of volunteers - teachers, teacher aides, retired teachers, family and friends who helped plan and bring this special project to fruition.

The school artwork was silently auctioned. A live auction was also held, this included a  selection of paintings by the children from ODA and amazing photos from a student who was saved from the streets of Phnom Penh and who now works with the FLAME CAMBODIA Project.

The exhibition was opened by artist, Andy Taylor and featured Cheltenham East Primary School’s Wakakirri Performance, telling the story of a teacher’s journey to help build a school in her Christmas holidays in Cambodia.

An enormous ‘Akun’ (“thank you” in Khmer) on behalf of the hundreds of Cambodian children whose lives will be touched by this exhibition - by the empathy and understanding of thousands of Victorian teachers, students, communities and their families who now know about and have contributed their love to a little country not so far away from ours - where children’s lives are so different but Who can now have the chance to dream about a future.

Julie Lach
Aspendale Gardens Primary School

Please stay tuned to our Facebook page for details of our 2017 Exhibition www.facebook.com/haveaheartforcambodia/

Supporting teachers in creative education