Most people would not be happy about losing their jobs, but Sally Hetherington is thrilled to be leaving her position at Human and Hope Association in Cambodia.
This is because after four years, the education provider is now entirely locally run.
In Cambodia, there are insufficient staff in schools, resulting in many classes consisting of up to 90 students.
Most teachers also only earn between $20 and $50 a month.
The mission of Human and Hope is “to empower Cambodians to create a sustainable future for themselves through projects focused on education, community development and vocational training.”
Ms Hetherington, who grew up in Cessnock and attended St Patrick’s Primary School, said she was pleased with how the organisation had progressed.
“Of course it is a bit bittersweet to be leaving, but it was always my aim to leave the organisation,” she said.
“This is because not only are the local staff totally capable, but it is far more sustainable this way.”
It was a very proud moment for Ms Hetherington, who first moved to Cambodia from Australia almost five years ago.
She first came into contact with Human and Hope Association about one year after arriving.
“My best friend here told me about the organisation, and I was really impressed,” she said.
“It was a small project with all local volunteers, and I felt my background could really assist.”
Ms Hetherington spent the next four years building up the capabilities of the local staff.
The organisation now offers programs in education, vocational training, and community support.
“We started some new projects, and really focused on fundraising and also staff workshops to build the team’s skills,” Ms Hetherington said.
“It was really amazing to watch the organisation and team grow, and of course I learnt so much as well.”
The organisation also received support from groups and individuals in Australia, including local Rotary and Rotaract clubs.
Ms Hetherington said she was looking forward to returning home, but that Human and Hope Association would always be close to her heart.
“I am excited to get home, taste vegemite and go shopping!” She laughed.
“But I will always stay involved with Human and Hope Association to help support their great aims.”