Last year I had the privilege of visiting Uganda with Tearfund to report back on the work they are doing… I was totally sold – so great to see another team heading out, to Cambodia this time, to “see for themselves“… I’m looking forward to hearing what they get up to…
This March, three UK bloggers will travel to Cambodia with Tearfund to visit communities living in poverty who are being transformed through the local church.
In December 2013, Tearfund launched the Cambodia Bloggers Challenge, which invited bloggers in the UK to be a part of a storytelling trip to Cambodia. They would meet people who are being given a hand up from poverty thanks to the generosity of regular givers in the UK.
Illustrator and designer Rich Wells, writer Anita Mathias and advocacy manager Danny Webster were selected from the long list of applicants by a judging panel of Krish Kandiah (Evangelical Alliance), Reverend Sally Hitchiner (Anglican priest and broadcaster), Reverend Richard Littledale (Baptist minister, blogger and author) and Tearfund’s Head of Corporate Communications Katie Harrison.
“Cambodia is a place I am excited to visit with Tearfund and hear the stories of lives transformed by the generosity of many who sacrifice a little to save a lot,” says Danny Webster, one of the bloggers going on the trip. “I want to tell the stories of how poverty can be overcome, and the daily suffering banished. I want to shine a light on the dreadful status quo, and I want to show what you and I can do to make a difference.”
The bloggers will meet people living in poverty like 13-year-old Seng, who used to worry for his family and about how his mother, Rim, will be able to feed them with no income. With training and support from Tearfund, Seng and his family’s lives are beginning to change for the better. Rim joined a chicken raising group started by Tearfund, and is now learning new skills and earning enough money to be able to provide for her family again.
This social media led trip will challenge the bloggers to use their unique, creative skills to encourage people to donate towards the transforming work of local churches around the world, for people like Seng and his family.
The trip is part of Tearfund’s See For Yourself initiative, which allows supporters to follow a community in Asia, Africa or Latin America, and watch as their donations transform lives before their eyes through regular photo, video, email and prayer updates.
In the same way, people will be able to follow the journey of the bloggers in Cambodia by following their updates on social networks such as Twitter, Instagram and Facebook, as well as Tearfund’s website – creating a very live experience. The bloggers will be using a variety of media to tell their stories, including micro-blogging, video, illustration and photography.
‘Bloggers can change the world, or at the least they can change the way people view the world.’ says Krish Kandiah, Executive Director of the Evangelical Alliance, Tearfund Vice President and member of the judging panel. ‘We hope these bloggers can use their skills to help many people see the country and people of Cambodia through God’s eyes.’
Dr Bex Lewis is passionate about helping people engage with the digital world in a positive way, where she has more than 20 years’ experience. She is Senior Lecturer in Digital Marketing at Manchester Metropolitan University and Visiting Research Fellow at St John’s College, Durham University, with a particular interest in digital culture, persuasion and attitudinal change, especially how this affects the third sector, including faith organisations, and, after her breast cancer diagnosis in 2017, has started to research social media and cancer. Trained as a mass communications historian, she has written the original history of the poster Keep Calm and Carry On: The Truth Behind the Poster (Imperial War Museum, 2017), drawing upon her PhD research. She is Director of social media consultancy Digital Fingerprint, and author of Raising Children in a Digital Age: Enjoying the Best, Avoiding the Worst (Lion Hudson, 2014) as well as a number of book chapters, and regularly judges digital awards. She has a strong media presence, with her expertise featured in a wide range of publications and programmes, including national, international and specialist TV, radio and press, and can be found all over social media, typically as @drbexl.