SARASOTA, Fla. (June 2, 2015) – Dr. Tricia Hunsader, a USF Sarasota-Manatee assistant professor, could be forgiven for taking a break between semesters, but instead she’s busy planning a trip to Cambodia and she’s seeking help from fellow faculty and staff.
As in years past, the College of Education professor is preparing for a twice-yearly visit to an orphanage and school in Prek Eng, outside the capital city, Phnom Penh.
Hunsader, her husband, Michael, and other team members work regularly with two aid organizations – Asia’s Hope and the AGO Student Dorms – to bring school supplies and other items to the children, which number about 110.
They’ll take the children to an open-air market, where they’ll learn to haggle for clothes and shoes, and provide counseling and leadership training. But the highlight of their stay – both for the children and team members – is a three-day vacation on the South China Sea.
“The children love it,” said Hunsader. “Fortunately, we found a hotel that allows six children per room.”
Conditions in Prek Eng are rustic for Hunsader and the nine team members. However, she said it’s worth it to see the children, who regard them as aunts and uncles. “We’ve been able to watch them grow up,” she said.
Seeing them mature draws Hunsader back to the orphanage year after year.
Her husband started visiting eight years ago and was quickly hooked. Hunsader followed two years later, along with four of their five children.
“Asia’s Hope provides high quality education through grade 7, but then the children transition to a public school. They’re basically concrete rooms with no windows or doors,” Hunsader said. “The teachers do the best they can with what they have, but they barely make enough themselves. Most teachers have to work two jobs.”
During the team’s stay, the members, among them a nurse and a physician’s assistant, hold a clinic with local medical professionals for families near the orphanage.
This is where Hunsader is seeking faculty and staff help. She’s requesting donations of prescription eyeglasses be dropped off at her mailbox at the College of Education by Friday. The glasses will be matched with those in need.