Meet the founder

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Duncan’s Story

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In early 2012 I took a trip to South-East Asia in search of purpose and meaning in my life. Like most people who set out on a journey of self-discovery, I wasn’t sure what I would find. Chance led me to meeting Bunrith Thy, affectionately known as Racky. Little did I know that this man would later change my life’s path and help me to realise the purpose I had been searching for. During my time in Cambodia my friendship with Racky grew. I learned about his childhood growing up during the Khmer Rouge regime where he was separated from his family, forced into child slavery and survived several attempts on his life. Despite unimaginable challenges, Racky fought to get himself educated to a university level. He now devotes his life to his non-government organisation, which works to improve the education system and provide children with access to quality education. Racky inspired me, but it was clear that he had a desperate need for funding. Filled with admiration for Racky, I made a promise to help. Out of this promise, Classroom of Hope was born.

When I got back to Australia there was one big question plaguing me. How the heck do I start a non-profit organisation that will provide quality education to children in developing countries? I had no idea. For 7 months I balanced my day job in the corporate world while devoting my nights and weekends to researching, working and building a purpose-driven organisation. I had tremendous support from my friends and family throughout these months and their support is still to this day inextricably linked to the success of Classroom of Hope.

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On October 24 2012, we launched Classroom of Hope with a purpose of providing access to quality education to children across the globe. It started in Cambodia and has since expanded to Rwanda, Laos, Myanmar and Indonesia where we have developed many schools with our incredible local NGO partners serving thousands of students.

250 million children worldwide can’t read or write and approximately 130 million girls are denied their right to education. I have a serious problem with those numbers and through learning about the education crisis I have truly discovered my purpose; to bring hope to children living in poverty through access to life-changing education.

They say behind every good man, there’s an incredible woman, but luckily for me, she is standing right beside me in every experience of life. I met my now wife while backpacking through Laos, South East Asia in 2010. Nicola Courtin is my Canadian soul mate, best friend, teammate and also the Creative Director/Co-Founder of Classroom of Hope. My wife inspires me and is remarkably creative. Over the last number of years we have been working together to create significant change and we are dedicating our lives to giving children the life-changing gift of education. We are blessed with two beautiful daughters Aura and Indi who travel with us to experience the different cultures and learn about the power of giving.