SeeBeyondBorders was first registered as a charity in 2009 by Edward Shuttleworth, CEO, and his wife Kate, a Director of SeeBeyondBorders Australia and the Teach the Teacher program coordinator.
English by birth, they emigrated to Australia in 1991 where, with their family growing up in the land of beaches and barbeques, camping and surfing, the cares of the world seemed far off. Three years in Hong Kong added to their sense of having been very spoiled.
However, a volunteering trip to Cambodia in 2002 with their children, then 7, 10 and 12, was a turning point and a truly foundational experience.
"The abject misery we witnessed will stay with us for ever", Kate said. "We worked with families who had moved to an area where they could prostitute their daughters - the only way they saw to make enough to feed their families. While our own young children were oblivious to what was really happening, their very presence made the situation all the more poignant. No parent should ever have to make those sort of choices"
So began a search for some simple answers to very difficult questions. This was not something they could turn their backs on. Ed spent four years on the Board of a Cambodian not-for-profit organisation and Kate participated in the Timor Leste Teacher Placement program as they tried to find ways to help alleviate the poverty they had encountered. Combining Ed's financial management experience and Kate's teaching knowledge and expertise seemed to be their best starting point and in 2008 they finally decided they would have to get off the security of paid employment and start their own initiative.
"Since making that decision eight years ago now, we have been on a rollercoaster" says Ed. "Of course we have made mistakes, but have learned a great deal from them. It is so much harder to change the world than we imagined! However, SeeBeyondBorders now has 20 staff in Cambodia. We currently work with 62 schools and 350 teachers directly impacting the learning for some 15,000 really disadvantaged children.
"Winning the UNESCO-Hamdan bin Rashid Al-Maktoum prize in 2016 for 'Outstanding Practice and Performance in Enhancing the Effectiveness of Teachers' has been a great morale booster and an accolade for all our fantastic team. Hopefully this will help us attract the support we need to improve public education so families can give their children a real chance.