How does one girl start changing the world?  Ask Rachel Riggio about The Red Road Foundation.

“…a former Californian social worker with a huge heart and an even bigger dream.  A dream which she is making a reality as a co-founder of The Red Road Foundation.”

Having just arrived in Kep after being dropped off several miles from where I intended (thanks to the awesome reliability of Cambodian bus drivers), I finally made my way to the Rusty Key Hole. This is where I planned on spending the next couple weeks and after I unpacked, showered, and tidied up a little I headed to the bar/restaurant area.  While sitting around sipping on some wine I met Rachel Riggio a former Californian social worker with a huge heart and an even bigger dream.  A dream which she is making a reality as a co-founder of The Red Road Foundation.

Hearing of the school, I immediately wanted to visit and even take some school supplies for the kiddos!  Rachel extended an invitiation for all of us to visit the following friday where we can hangout with the kids, play with them, and tour the grounds in order to gain a better feel for what an earthship is and how The Red Road Foundation works.

The Red Road Foundation

“Our Mission is to foster Cambodian youth to become the future humanitarian leaders of the country by empowering them to realize their full potential through all necessary skills, healing, tools, and resources.”-Mission StatementThe Red Road Foundation

While chatting over some drinks and food I learned that Rachel had moved to Cambodia over several years ago and during her visit was inspired.  Having, already, the drive in her heart to change the lives of troubled people, she stepped foot into a country which has been ravaged by famine, genocide, psychotic dictators, economic crisis, poor living conditions and severe poverty.  This, paired with her desire to change the world, led Rachel along with her brother and a few others, to begin work on their very own 501 (c) (3), beginning in Cambodia in hopes of reaching the globe.

Rachel’s Mission

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Jac and kids!

“Our vision is to create a sanctuary within a village community where we can educate, employ and share trade skills with local villagers and create a Communal environment where we can foster child victims of the sex industry, poverty and extreme abuse.”  (The Red Road Foundation Gen. Info)

Phoenix Project – An Earthship

Rachel explained to me that she led the building of an earthship, a type of building using recycled and reused materials.  This earthship wasn’t a house, or an orphanage, but a school.  A place for children and village/community members can come to learn.  This project is The Red Road Foundation’s breakout project with hopes to encourage environmental responisbility and education for the children and adults of Cambodia who are recovering from the aftermath of the Khmer Rouge.

The most recent building, a storage area and workshop was created using over 4000 bottles, both glass and plastic, along with cement.  The bottles were collected, again, by the local community.  In order to provide more stability to the plastic bottles, they were stuffed with plastic trash, also collected from the environment surrounding the villages.

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The Newest building! Made with literally THOUSANDS of picked up bottles!

The School

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Inside the walls of the school— The bottles don’t simply provide light, they provide a vibrant background to an amazing learning environment.

“…she stepped foot into a country which has been ravaged by famine, genocide, psychotic dictators, economic crisis, poor living conditions and severe poverty.”

Created with repurposed glass bottles and tires, found and collected by locals, in order to help promote recycling and the importance of keeping the Earth clean.  Every glass/plastic bottle and every tire used in the construction of the school was picked up by the nearby villagers from the litter strewn about the community.

The school offers education to students who are not currently attending school, supplementary schooling for those going to government schools, workshop training courses as well as English classes in the evenings.


The Farm

The Foundation’s grounds also offers a sustainable farm which is currently growing lemon grass, aloe vera and moringa.  The miraculous moringa tree has leaves, which, once harvested  can be used in teas, balms and vitamins.  The leaves contain nearly:

  • 7x the amount of vitamin C as an orange
  • 4x the vitamin A of a carrot
  • 4x the Calcium of milk
  • 3x the Potassium of bananas rr_aloe
  • 2x the Protein of yogurt

The farm is but one way for the school to help fund its endeavors, which, aside from funding, provides agricultural education and self-sustainability to the community and surrounding villages.

In addition to the farm, the Phoenix project also creates recycled glass products as a way to generate a revenue that will be used to help support community development and spread awareness about recycling and environmental impact.

The Kids

The Red Road Foundation encourages all children and community members to attend it’s workshops, support groups and classes, as well as, outreach programs and even simply coming by to spend time visiting!

Want to Help?

The Red Road Foundation provides basic accommodation for volunteers from around the globe, for them to live similar to the locals as they prepare lessons, plan activities and bond with the children and community members of rural Cambodia.  If this interests you please visit their “Join Our Efforts” webpage and get in contact with them!

I have hopes that next spring I will be able to spend a week at the school because one day was simply not enough.

Volunteers

Volunteers from around the world can come with open hearts and open minds to the outskirts of rural Kampot where they will have the once in a life chance to truly change the futures of some children’s lives, and who knows… maybe even heal a little themselves.  Volunteers will leave behind their traditionally western ideas of life for a more simple way of life, where they can bond with local community members, learn to cook Khmer food, and attempt to win a few games of volleyball, a favorite local game!

Volunteers will be provided lodging in one of the three rooms in a bamboo hut on stilts, solar electricity, clean water, and all the necessary information about how to get food, and around the community and town!

Described perfectly:

“The Red Road is a term used in Native American spiritual teachings to represent one who is “walking in balance”. It is behavior, attitude, a way of living, a way of “doing” with reverence – of walking strong yet softly, so as not to harm or disturb other life. The Red Road is a pathway to truth, peace and harmony.”

The Red Road Foundation Overview

  • Founded by a girl with a giant heart.
  • Changing the lives of the Cambodian youth, and therefore the future.
  • Volunteer and be apart of the change!
  • Start your own NGO and/or Earthship!

What’s Next?

-My spur of the moment trip back to the states and my “10 day layover in Chicago”! Some cool things I did around Ohio that you probably didn’t know existed!

-Arriving in Kathmandu!

-Prepping for trekking!  What am I doing and how am I prepping for 2 of the most famous treks in the world!

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