Experiencing poverty a world away

A recent graduate of the Red Deer College Social Work program is putting her skills to the test as she embarks on a trip of a lifetime to help people in need.

A recent graduate of the Red Deer College Social Work program is putting her skills to the test as she embarks on a trip of a lifetime to help people in need.

Shelly Eckenswiller recently left for Ho Chi Minh,Vietnam to take part in a 10-week volunteer program through International Volunteer HQ, where she will spend time at a local reach out food centre and an orphanage.

Eckenswiller is a parent of a child with special needs and said it’s where her passion to help people began.

“I saw a lot of cracks in the system. I was driven to advocate for my daughter and throughout the process I realized there were so many people like her. There are people who are vulnerable and marginalized who need people to advocate for them,” said Eckenswiller.

Eckenswiller has volunteered around the community and is ready to examine life outside North America.

“I really wanted a different experience because the poverty here is nothing like the poverty I’m going to experience over there,” said Eckenswiller.

Poverty is something she would really like to explore in-depth during her trip.

“I want to do a lot of research on the topic. We have social systems here that do help if people are unable to feed themselves or need medical attention. I want to see if there is anything over there of the same nature or if these people are truly left to no resources,” said Eckenswiller.

Although work is her main focus, Eckenswiller does plan on having some fun.

“I’m excited about experiencing the culture. From the people to the food, everything is going to be different,” said Eckenswiller. “Cambodia is a short bus ride away, so I’ll be visiting there and I’ve also made plans to visit Thailand.”


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