Tearfund Cambodia blogging challenge: harnessing the online to bring change offline

Rich Wells is excited by the change that happens offline as a result of what's posted online

Three lucky bloggers will be heading to Cambodia with Tearfund this spring in a trip to raise awareness of the poverty still affecting the country and the change being made through community-level development projects.

Illustrator and designer Rich Wells, writer Anita Mathias and Evangelical Alliance advocacy manager Danny Webster will visit communities living in poverty which are being supported and transformed through the local church and projects funded by Tearfund.

The three were selected by a judging panel made up of missiologist Krish Kandiah, minister and author the Reverend Richard Littledale, Anglican priest and broadcaster the Reverend Sally Hitchiner, and Tearfund's head of Corporate Communications Katie Harrison.

The bloggers will embark on the nine-day trip in March and share their experiences via their personal social media sites and the Tearfund website with the aim of encouraging people to donate towards Tearfund's life-changing work across the globe.

If each manages to inspire 20 new supporters to give £3 a month, it will pay for almost 70 families to send their children to school, learn new farming techniques, and put food on the table.

The trip forms part of the See For Yourself initiative, which gives supporters the opportunity to follow the disadvantaged communities their money helps through photo, video, email and prayer updates.

"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 and Tearfund Vice President.

 "We hope these bloggers can use their skills to help many people see the country and people of Cambodia through God's eyes."

Rich, who works as a Creative Director for YooMee – a firm that helps not-for-profits and entrepreneurs to harness the power of social media to facilitate change through connecting and inspiring people – is looking forward to sharing pictures with his online following.

"I hope to be able to share a bit of my experience, to bring people along with me and raise more awareness about the great work that Tearfund are doing with people who are living in poverty and the local church as well," he says.

"I think social media can be good and bad; sometimes it can be a distraction, and can get in the way of real world relationships, but what excites me is when it brings about an offline change, or affects the power of stories to change people.

"I hope to get some perspective, I hope it radically changes my life. But I'm also really excited to get this opportunity to share with other people."

Anita, herself an entrepreneur having started two businesses, says she is most looking forward to seeing "faith in action" and "seeing faith change things".

"The church has galvanised people to start working together," she explains. "Faith is really changing things and making a difference in Cambodia.

Danny is equally excited about the trip: "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.

"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 head to Tonle Batie in Cambodia on 17 March. You can follow their journeys on their individual pages below or on the Tearfund website.

Anita: http://anitamathias.com/
Rich: http://richwells.me/
Danny: http://brokencameras.com/