Who We Are 2019-08-13T11:01:48+00:00

Who we are

We are a youth-led charity, based in Melbourne, Australia.

Shine’s youth volunteers and members range from 14 years old to 24 years old. Over 100 young people have volunteered so far. Shine has a youth board AND a youth representative as an official board member so the ‘youth voice’ has a vote.

We run a community project in Cambodia to directly alleviate poverty.

The project in Cambodia is fully funded by the work in Australia. Our theory of change is that a community can unite and work itself out of poverty, with a helping hand.

The project provides supplementary education and health and wellbeing services.

Our Story

Shine Cambodia Incorporated was established in Otres in April 2016 in response to Painting Smiles English School closing down. This closure inspired Suzanne Wright, who had managed Painting Smiles from 2013-2015, to start again with a new vision: To create a holistic centre to offer children in poverty a bright future.

From April – October 2016, Shine provided 2 hours a day of free English lessons (one hour to each ability level), health and hygiene classes, and occasional programmes of art and environmental awareness.

In October 2016, Suzanne returned to Cambodia, now a resident in Australia, with a sustainability plan. She conducted a needs analysis with community leaders to ensure the plan for holistic services was actually needed by the community and the vision became clear.

The word spread. It was definitely wanted.

Shine Cambodia opened its temporary doors (using borrowed classrooms) and 80 students enrolled. More came but Shine was at full capacity.

Through 2017, Shine Cambodia developed and provided structured programs and services to over 125 students and their families. The community pulled together when land evictions threatened to separate them and Shine was able to support. Numerous cases of sickness, hunger, family problems, school absenteeism were identified and supported by the beginnings of our social work team. Shine formed a partnership with the local State School to ensure it’s working WITH the system. It worked hard to engage local people so that community engagement and development is at the heart of Shine.

At the start of 2018, the first impact measurement was conducted to verify the need for services and aid the accurate planning of future work.

And in the background, Shine has evolved into an education opportunity for young people in Melbourne, Australia. It provides work experience to 14+ year olds, enabling a new generation to have an immediate impact: developing a social conscience and the practical skills to go out and be change makers at home, in their community and globally.

Our Vision

Cambodian people living free from extreme poverty – It is a basic human right and need to live a safe, happy and prosperous life.

Cambodian people having equal opportunities – A person should be able to live equitably, regardless of location and circumstance, creating the identify and future they desire.

Cambodian people being independent and self-sufficient– A community that sustains itself through trained leaders, children are all educated, employment rates are high and the economy improves.

A world where young people are connected and invested in global change – Young people in Australia and Cambodia understand the value of helping each other and their own communities. Their experiences in education and in volunteering for Shine will inspire them to be change makers in our world.

Shine’s Curriculum

We offer supplementary education, complementing children’s state school curriculum.

The main subjects are:

  • Khmer (Cambodian language:  reading, writing and speaking)
  • English
  • Maths (early stages)
  • Health and Hygiene
  • Sport

We are also already teaching Art and Environmental Awareness and as the curriculum develops we will include IT, Cambodian Studies and other subjects in time.

We currently employ mainly Cambodian staff and will ensure that the staffing structure remains this way. We are also very lucky to have the support of Western volunteers who live in Otres and teaching volunteers from across the world who enrich our curriculum with their experience.

Our Team

Suzanne Wright
Suzanne WrightFounder and CEO
Suzanne has been a teacher for two decades, teaching children in the UK, Asia and Australia. It is her absolute passion. She was deeply touched by the people of Cambodia while working there and knew her teaching skills could help so many families desperate for education and social support. Suzanne’s vision is to create a sustainable education and support service for the children and families of Otres and she has dedicated her future to helping theirs.
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Piseth Sen Neary
Piseth Sen NearyHead Teacher
Piseth is a fantastic educator who has worked with the children of Otres for 2.5 years. He began teaching in 2002 and has many years of experience working with not-for-profit organisations in Cambodia. Piseth lives locally and helps engage with the families and also other Cambodian teachers. He is extremely dedicated to the children and families of Otres and we are excited that he is our head of staff and curriculum development.
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Addressing a Need

Many students are illiterate in their native language, Khmer, although they may be able to speak English. Cambodian people see English as important because it leads to work in the tourist industry. However, without literacy in Khmer, most careers are not an option.

The state school opens for 2 to 3 hours a day and only a few families can afford to send their children to private school in the afternoon. Even free public schools often incur costs for the uniform, equipment and tests which make it unattainable for a vast proportion of rural families.

To address this issue, Shine Cambodia provides supplementary education for 3 hours per afternoon and focuses on Khmer, English and other core skills. This gives poor vulnerable households the chance to send their children to school so they can learn and thrive, opening many more doors for them as they grow up.

Connect with us

Fundraise, donate, spread the word, follow our journey, teach, volunteer…

We need your help and can’t wait for you to join us on this incredible journey!