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Ambassador Shares Toowoomba Generosity in Cambodia

Catholic Education Week Ambassador Annabel Pike has just delivered more than 130 personal care packs to the ‘poorest of the poor’ in a Cambodian hospital thanks to the generosity of Catholic school students in the Diocese of Toowoomba.

The 2012 Australian Nurse Graduate of the Year, Annabel travelled to Cambodia to help train and mentor nurses at Sihanouk Hospital in Phnom Penh.

On learning of her plans, students from Diocese of Toowoomba Catholic schools made up the personal care packs during Catholic Education Week in late July. These packs were shipped to Cambodia to coincide with Annabel’s arrival at the hospital where she will work for the next three weeks.

"While a simple gesture by our standards, words can't express how grateful these patients were to receive these care packs," Annabel said from Phnom Penh.

"They are literally Cambodia's poorest people. They are interviewed at the door of the hospital to determine their extreme poverty before being seen by a doctor or nurse.

"We may not speak the same language, but a smile is universal, and on receiving these care packs, we understood each other perfectly. "Tears were shed, emotions flowed and friendship and trust was built in spades.

"I can assure you that the generosity of the students was felt deeply by these people," Annabel said.

On hearing the response of the Cambodian people to these small gifts, John Borserio, Director Diocese of Toowoomba, Catholic Education Office said, "This reinforces that the small things we do can be big things for others in ways that we don’t understand."

Queensland Catholic Education Commission Executive Director Mike Byrne praised the students for their support of Annabel’s work.

"I commend the initiative and generosity of the staff and students involved," he said.

"A commitment to social justice is a rich dimension of a Catholic education embodied by both Annabel and the students of the participating schools," Mr Byrne said.

Annabel was educated at St Agatha’s school and St Rita’s College at Clayfield, Brisbane. She is also a Pride of Australia Medal State Winner in 2013, has overcome profound deafness, and is currently a valued member of the Intensive Care Unit staff at the Mater Private Hospital in Brisbane.

Annabel’s example and work truly brings to life this year’s theme for Catholic Education Week, ‘Come, live life in all its fullness’.

Our vision is to offer life-long Catholic Education so that each person may know and come to be identified more fully with the living Spirit of Christ. This Spirit, working through the faith community, calls all involved in Catholic education …. to act justly, love tenderly, and walk humbly with their God. (Micah 6:8)

Defining feature 2014: Attentiveness to the Life-Giving Presence of God