As a seasonal company Pines & Needles has a long history of attracting humanitarian workers usually based in third world countries and conflict zones during the year, to work in our team over the Christmas season. Over the years we've had the privilege of employing humanitarians to work in our stores, in our office and even in senior management positions.
One of these humanitarians is Juan Antuña Ros, who has been with us for the last four years. During the Christmas season Juan manages our stores but the rest of the year he is focused on his social enterprise HDLF (Human Development & Language Foundation) - building schools in poor rural villages, training Cambodians to become English teachers and supporting graduates with university scholarships and job opportunities.
HDLF provides very special scholarships to 18 year old high school graduates from the countryside who dream of going to university but cannot afford the university fees and living costs of the city. Scholarship students become teacher trainees and work at HDLF for a period of four years. In exchange they receive training, accommodation, food, a volunteer allowance and a full university scholarship at a university of their choice.
This year at Pines & Needles we are hoping to fundraise $10,000 (£7634) to cover the cost of two scholarship teachers who have just graduated from HDLF and dream of becoming English teachers one day.
Sophear and Sokhalai are two of the most hard-working and determined students HDLF has ever had and we feel very proud to be able to support them with this opportunity.
Sophear: "I want to apply for this scholarship because my parents cannot afford to send me to university but I really want to improve my knowledge to a higher level. My goal is to be an English teacher and open my own school one day!"
Sokhalai: "If I am accepted for this scholarship I will be able to study English & TESOL at Dewey International University. This would allow me to help the young people in my community in the future."
By supporting Sophear and Sokhalai you are not only giving these two lovely girls the opportunity to transcend poverty and attend university. You are also paying for much needed rural English teachers that will provide amazing learning opportunities to over 200 impoverished children per year. These children are so eager to learn and also deserve to attend school and live a meaningful life!