WiT raises more than US$50,000 for Phare scholarships

Performance by Phare, The Cambodian Circus enthralls audience

WiT for Good, the fund-raising activity of WiT Experience Singapore 2021, raised more than US$50,000 for Phare Ponleu Selpak, the 30-year-old Cambodian NGO that supports arts and youths in Cambodia.

The funds
raised will go towards its Visual & Applied Arts Living Scholarships which support
students from difficult socio-economic situation that need support to cover
living and school supplies. Students can get up to US$1,165 per student per
year to cover, accommodation, lunch, school supplies, bicycle and a stipend for
food/living expenses.

Funds were raised in a variety of ways. Bracelets and lanyards, part of “homecoming” gifts for delegates, were ordered from Cambodian artists associated with the NGO. Artistes from Phare, The Cambodian Circus, staged a 20-minute live virtual performance for the WiT audience at the end of the first day, October 19, powered by GEVME.

The performance, packed with juggling acts, seemingly-impossible balancing acts and gymnastics, showcased the best of the world-class circus whose live performances in Battambang and Siem Reap were shut down by Covid. The nightly shows that used to cater to 800 visitors some days (two shows a day) generated revenues to help fund the parent NGO.

Artistes from Phare, The Cambodian Circus, staged a 20-minute live virtual performance for the WiT audience at the end of the first day, October 19.

“The performance was thrilling. The acts they performed reminded me of the balancing acts we’ve all had to perform with our businesses during Covid,” said Yeoh Siew Hoon, founder, WiT. “It also reminded me of the inherent grace and strength of the Cambodian people – gentle yet so resilient.”

Veemal Gungadin, CEO of GEVME said, “Even though we were miles away from the artists, we could really feel their energy and enthusiasm during the live broadcast of their performance. We are proud at GEVME to support an organisation like Phare.”

Baidi Li, vice president, trade sales, Asia of Go City said,  “This was my third time watching the Phare show and it was a super special one. Despite the hardship these young Khmer artists have been through during Covid, you can tell how much they missed the stage. The passion, skills, energy and joy they brought to the performance really put a big smile on my face. Like many people I know, I can’t wait to go back to Siem Reap and visit Phare again. The show must go on.”

Chan Chee Chong, CEO and co-founder of GlobalTix, said, “A splendid mix of heritage, culture, art with a splash of circus-like movements and excitement. The theatrical storyline tells the adventure of a young man’s near-death experience. It also proves that a virtual show can be as engaging.”

Mieke de Schepper, executive vice president and managing director, Asia Pacific, Amadeus, said, “The passion and commitment radiated through the screen!”

Added Luke Clark, CEO of CP5 Content, “Seeing this live performance beamed in from Cambodia was for me an unexpectedly moving part of the WIT 2021 experience. Because as we had learned during the day, even though our event’s theme was Homecoming, the reality we had in front of us here in Asia at least, remained heavy with disconnection.

this, here you had a live link to these raw, vibrant young performers, the boys
tumbling through the air, the young women gliding with such timeless assurance
that you instantly recalled Angkor Wat’s finest Apsaras.

each performer was thrilled to broadcast to a global travel audience, and
provide us a rich example of the heart and soul of travel.

faces reminded us that no matter how many red-shirted Social Distance Officers
had scolded us during the day for daring to speak to one another, travel would
ultimately prevail, providing what it always had — connection, humility and

“Those are
the bonds that social distancing can’t break: and the hope of those kids is
ultimately the truest of homecomings.”

Osman Khawaja, executive director of Phare Ponleu Selpak, said the artistes were thrilled to put on the show. “The kids are delighted to perform on stage again and earn from a show instead of from construction work,” he said.

Delegates were treated to a performance by Phare, The Cambodian Circus.

The final
fund-raising activity was during the auction at the close of the conference in
which travel prizes, donated by industry friends of WiT, as well as four art
pieces commissioned from Cambodian artists were put up for bids.

It was a lively and rapid auction and in less than 15 minutes, the WiT community collectively raised more than US$50,000.

“We thank those who contributed prizes to our auction and those who donated so generously,” said Siew Hoon. “Phare is an organisation that has done so much for youths in Cambodia and keeping the arts alive. It is such a vital part of Cambodia’s tourism industry and it is why travellers visit the kingdom – to appreciate the local arts, culture and communities.”

Said Khawaja, “We are overwhelmed by the generosity shown by the organizers and participants of WiT Experience Singapore. For almost 30 years Phare has been lifting people out of poverty and developing talent for the arts and culture industry, which is a critical part of the tourism and travel industry. Covid almost shut down this unique institution, however with the support of the very industry Phare plays an active part in, we are able to keep our doors open. Thank you to Siew Hoon for making Phare the beneficiary for this year’s WiT for Good and our deepest appreciation to the many individuals who opened their hearts and wallets to support us.”

Last year, WiT raised S$36,000 for The Island Foundation which supports education for rural kids in Indonesia. Over the years, the WiT community has contributed more than US$500,000 towards enriching the lives of women and children in Asia.

Watch performance here