Building enduring friendships for a better world Singapore International Foundation

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The Singapore International Foundation (SIF) was established in Singapore in 1991 with a simple yet powerful vision – making friends for a better world. Through shared ideas, skills and experiences, we uplift lives and create greater understanding between Singaporeans and world communities. We believe that when people from different parts of the world work together, they gain insights that bridge divides and collaborate for the greater good. In Cambodia, since 2001 the SIF has collaborated with 19 organisations in Phnom Penh, Siem Reap, Kampong Speu, and the Kandal Province. Additionally, 797 Singapore International Volunteers have collaborated with their counterparts on 41 projects to benefit more than 73,000 Cambodian people. Hear from Ms Jean Tan (above), Executive Director on the SIF’s work in Cambodia.

1. Tell us a bit about the work that the SIF does in Cambodia and why you do what you do?

Through the SIF, members of the Singapore community have connected and collaborated with Cambodian partners and friends in many programmes on multiple platforms – ranging from healthcare, education, environment, social entrepreneurship, to arts and culture. Singaporeans and Cambodians from different cultures and backgrounds have shared knowledge, skills and resources with each other to uplift lives and create positive social impact through these programmes.

Singapore grew and developed from the largesse of its friends in its early days. Today, we share our development experience with our friends from the region as a responsible global citizen. The SIF believes that learning should go both ways and we work alongside our Cambodian counterparts to effect change, while fostering greater intercultural understanding.

2. What are some of the recent SIF projects in Cambodia?

We have a few on-going programmes in Cambodia in the fields of healthcare and education. These programmes focus on capacity building, where we equip a group of master trainers who will then cascade acquired skills to their peers. To give you an example of the impact of our programmes, we have trained 698 healthcare professionals so far through the Emergency Medical Care Programme for which we have partnered with the Calmette Hospital. These professionals have gone on to train their peers to benefit up to 11,500 patients annually.

Additionally, we have also worked with Cambodian youths through our Young Social Entrepreneurs (YSE) programme which aims to inspire, equip and enable youths from around the world to launch or scale up their social business ideas in their home countries and beyond. Since the YSE’s inception in 2010, 24 Cambodian alumni have actively participated in the programme.

3. What do your volunteers say about their time in Cambodia?

In conversations with our volunteers who have spent time in Cambodia, I have heard inspiring stories of firm friendships being formed between Cambodians and Singaporeans. The friendships continue even after the projects have ended. Many have also taken away a deeper understanding of a country they have only read about. These stories are not only heartening to hear, they validate our vision of making friends for a better world.

4. How can people get involved in your future projects in Cambodia?

We are constantly looking for partners to work with and expand our reach to bring tangible benefits to our host communities. At present, we are looking to further expand our Water for Life programme.

Since 2010, this programme has benefitted about 60,000 Cambodian villagers in Kampong Speu and Siem Reap. A key pillar of our programmes’ success is our volunteers and we hope to inspire more volunteers to join us. So do visit our website at www.sif.org.sg  for the latest developments!

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