A CHIRK couple have reflected on their time spent helping with charity work in south-east Asia.

Ferelith and Robert Smith travelled to Cambodia to do their bit as the country continues to rebuild after the devastating effects of the genocide in the 1970s.

The couple spent two weeks in the country, where they helped with the building of school extensions along with several other volunteers as part of a Mission Direct project.

With the genocide in the late 1970s killing more than 1.5million people, the country continues its attempt to reform with the help of charities like Mission Direct.

Ferelith said it is nice to see the country getting back on its feet, but insists it still has a long way to go.

“We went over with 15 people whom we both know – my husband went to Sierra Leone about 18 months ago with a similar project,” she said.

“We all worked in KwaZulu in South Africa about 30 years ago, and at a reunion we agreed to get together and suggested going with Mission Direct to help out in Cambodia.

“The people there, especially the children, were extremely generous and so welcoming, despite not having much.

“It’s nice to see the country rebuilding, but there is still some way for it to go yet.

“We visited the killing fields and prisons out there as tourists, it was very eye-opening.

“We did a lot of research before we went out there, but it was different to see the places first-hand.”

The classroom extensions being built was one of the many projects close to completion near the Cambodian capital of Phnom Penh.

Ferelith spoke of how it was nice to learn so much about the different culture and way of life in the Asian country.

She added: “The project we worked on involved building two new classrooms to add to an existing school for 34 children plus staff.

“We had two weeks of building over there. We’d use the mornings to build and then spend time in the afternoon visiting various projects and places.

“It’s looking like the school will be complete soon so we’re awaiting an update to say so.

“It was very very hot out there – some days it was up to 40 °C. They live with a very different culture and a large number of people are very poor.

“We learnt a lot about how they have started to restructure their lives following the genocide.

“The country is really starting to get itself back on its feet which is great to see.”

The couple both felt grateful for the support they had received before heading out to help, and gave a special mention to the charity for its work.

Ferelith said: “It was a very good experience.

“Mission Direct is amazing – they were very clear about where every penny of the money spent was going.

“I would definitely go again.

“We would like to say thanks to everyone who donated money and items to take over with us, it was terrific – it proved to be a big help.”