EAGLE COUNTY, Colorado - A trip to Cambodia so deeply affected Nina Ferzacca and Tabor Whitney they have to go back.
Ferzacca and Whitney first went to Cambodia on a trip organized by valley resident Lisa Marie Howell and her Children's Global Alliance. When the two students returned, they decided to do something similar, and created Change for Children. The two have done fund-raising at events including Vail's Fourth of July Parade, and have brought other students into the mix.
This year, Ferzacca and Whitney are taking a group of Vail Christian High School and Battle Mountain High School students - Sofia Gonzalez, Daniel Caballero and Clare Mulvey, as well as a couple of parents, on a two-week trip to help an orphanage in Cambodia. They leave Nov. 8.
The students will buy food there, help install a new water line to an orphanage and help paint the building. Change for Children is also sponsoring the education of two children in Cambodia.
The youngsters on this trip have had to qualify through an interview process. They also had to do their own fund-raising, by working for friends and neighbors and, of course, asking for some familial help.
Caballero said he did a lot of work for friends and neighbors in Gypsum. That turned into a lot of lawn-mowing and yard work.
Gonzalez and her mom organized a weekly yard sale, using items donated by friends and neighbors.
That fund-raising will continue until the plane leaves. The more cash the group can bring, the more they're able to help.
"Cash really is king," said Lourdes Ferzacca, Nina's mom and one of the parents going on the trip.
Besides fund-raising, there's been other preparatory work to do, learning as much as possible about Cambodian culture and the orphanage they plan to help. That's going to be followed by two full days of training once the group is on the ground in Asia, then counting on many of the connections made first by Howell on her trips.
"I'm a little nervous, but I'm more excited," Gonzalez said. "I really want to learn about other cultures by being there instead of sitting and reading."
Caballero said he's going because he wants "to be part of something bigger than the Vail Valley."
He's also going to show his five siblings there's more to life than what's here in the valley.
While the students will put plenty of sweat into this trip, there will be time for some sightseeing, too.
"I'm really looking forward to seeing Angkor Wat," Mulvey said, referring to the world's largest complex of Hindu temples.
Mostly, though, these youngsters are going on an adventure.
And, Nina Ferzacca said, she hopes Change for Children will continue to build bridges between here and there.
"We wanted to keep doing this," Nina Ferzacca said. "That's why we've started Change for Children."
Business Editor Scott N. Miller can be reached at 970-748-2930 or firstname.lastname@example.org.