After suffering a double tragedy last year, Ellis Matthews decided to start a new chapter in her life. With nothing to lose, the 26-year-old travelled to Cambodia as a volunteer, teaching English. But she has become so appalled at the terrible living conditions of the communities, she has put out a plea on social media to step in and help. Read her story here.
To read about another fund-raising effort abroad click here /watch-brendan-s-african-coast-to-coast-run-for-friends-of-mulanje-orphans-1-9040242
Ellis Matthews was determined to take stock of her life after experiencing two huge losses in 2017.
Not only did she suffer a miscarriage, but after only reuniting with her sister, Polly Ashton, a few years ago, she was devastated when she died suddenly whilst in Barcelona in September, aged 20.
Ellis felt alone so she packed up a few belongings and embarked on a volunteering project with Volunteer in Cambodia, where she will be teaching English in schools and orphanages.
Whilst there, she was so horrified by the plight of the families living in squalor, that she took it upon herself to help them.
She began buying items such as food, clothing and toys to hand out to communities. As she posted her efforts on social media, she soon found other people wanted to help.
Ellis, who grew up in Bamber Bridge, says: “2017 was my worst year yet and feeling I was left with nothing and nobody around me, I just wasn’t dealing with life.
“But then on a whim I decided to volunteer to help less fortunate children in Cambodia.
“Upon my arrival I realised the sheer level of poverty. It broke my heart and so I put the orphanage project back few weeks whilst I tried to impact the local community.
“My intention was just doing this on my own.
“However, to my absolute amazement after just under one week of posting on social media, people were following my story/journey.”
Ellis added she was appalled at how some people were forced to live. She said: “I have witnessed the most horrific living conditions. The poverty is so much here that people live in small rooms in absolute filth. The smell is horrendous and I’m often sick when I visit.
“The children are often naked and have no shoes. The floor in their home is so full of rubbish and there are rats everywhere. The noise of the rats is shocking, with children playing amongst the filth.
“It is just breaking my heart.”
To support her donations, Ellis’s friend, Liz Bossom Stobart, from Chorley, has also collected items to send.
Ellis, who currently lives in Blackburn, added: “So far I have had a massive £1,500 donated in the last five days. With this money I have bought big bags of rice, shoes, food, toys and blankets. I have explained who has donated they money and asked the children to say thank you on the videos.️”