Newcastle's Sally Hetherington has helped establish not-for-profit Hope and Human Organisation in Cambodia

REWARDING: Newcastle's Sally Hetherington, right, is moving on after working in Cambodia for the past four years with Human and Hope Organisation.
REWARDING: Newcastle's Sally Hetherington, right, is moving on after working in Cambodia for the past four years with Human and Hope Organisation.

It is not often someone is happy to be losing a job.

But that is exactly how Novocastrian Sally Hetherington feels as she prepares to leave her position with Human and Hope Association in Cambodia.

The 30-year-old, who grew up in Adamstown Heights and completed a Bachelor of Business degree at University of Newcastle, has been based in Cambodia for the past five years.

For the past four she has proved pivotal to the not-for-profit organisation based in Siem Reap, one of the poorest provinces in Cambodia. 

The association’s aim is to empower Cambodians to build sustainable futures.

“I initially moved to Cambodia to work as a Volunteer Coordinator at an NGO [non governmental organisation],” Ms Hetherington said.

“Then I was introduced to HHA, and the rest is history.”

Ms Hetherington feels “bittersweet” to be leaving but is proud to depart knowing she has played a big part in making the organisation completely locally run. 

Her work included building the capacity of local staff and helping establish programs in education, vocational training and community support.

“We really focused on fundraising and also staff workshops to build the team’s skills,” she said. 

“It was really amazing to watch the organisation and team grow, and of course I learned so much as well. It was incredibly rewarding”.

Working with not-for-profit organisations was a path Ms Hetherington never dreamed she would go down.

But now she cannot imagine her life if she had not.

“To be honest, I never cared about other people; I really didn't,” she said.

“It wasn't until I finished university and moved to Sydney that I started caring, when I joined a local Rotaract club. I realised I had a knack for helping people, and from there I volunteered with many charities.”

The experience changed her outlook on life.

“It has taken a long time to ensure the staff are confident in their jobs and their decisions, and this involved me having to step back and allow them to learn from their mistakes and celebrate their successes,” she said.

“So I guess I learnt that things take time, you can't rush progress.”

She wants to help close the gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians when she returns home.