A team of 11 Atlassians is headed to Cambodia to further our efforts in rebuilding education there. This is the first post in our series on the Atlassian Foundation’s contributions to Room to Read in Cambodia. Read more in the series here.
This weekend 10 fellow Atlassians and I will board flights from Sydney and San Francisco to travel to the Cambodian city of Siem Reap. There, we will meet with Room to Read – a nonprofit dedicated to improving literacy for children around the world – and visit the schools we’ve built where we’ll meet the communities we’ve impacted through the Atlassian Foundation.
Part of my role on this journey is to write three blogs: Why we chose Room to Read and Cambodia, What we’ve accomplished so far, and Where do we go from here? (However in the last 48 hours I’ve discovered that I’m not exactly a writing genius, and I probably should’ve chosen the photography option). My first version of this blog sounded more like a press release. Thankfully, I have a very patient boss (Scott Farquhar, one of the co-founders and co-CEOs) who sat down with me yesterday and gave me a few pointers on blogging. But first, he told me the story of how the partnership between Atlassian and Room to Read came to be, and how it is one of the founders’ greatest achievements.
Why Room to Read?
When co-CEOs Mike Cannon-Brookes and Scott Farquhar, co-founded Atlassian, they wanted it to be a socially responsible company that cared for the communities it existed within. Fast forward to 2006, when Mike biked through Cambodia raising money for Oxfam, and read a book by Room to Read’s Founder John Wood called Leaving Microsoft to Change The World, in which Wood did just that: At the age of 35, he quit his highly paid position at Microsoft to start Room to Read. Mike gave the book to Scott. They were both inspired by John’s vision of a world in which all children can pursue a quality education, reach their full potential, and contribute to their community and the world.
The Atlassian Stimulus Package
On April 20th 2009, a little grain of an idea was about to sprout. At the time, the founders and the team never dreamed that what started out as their “Atlassian Stimulus Package” would end up impacting the lives of more than 90,000 children, mostly in Cambodia. But it did: With the “Atlassian Stimulus Packaged, we raised more than $100,000 dollars in one week. To help explain what this is, I borrowed some details from an old entry on Mike’s blog, Rebelutionary:
The Goal – To raise $25k to build 5 libraries for children in the developing world in 5 days… all whilst helping stimulate startups and small teams with kick-ass tools.
The kick-ass result – $25k was raised in just over 23 hours, with more than $100k at the end of the 5 days. Like Mike said, that’s fan-fucking-tastic!
The stars aligned when Mike and John Wood were both in San Francisco one afternoon. They got together at Room to Read’s office to discuss how to distribute the $100k that had been raised. While there were so many needs throughout the countries that Room to Read supports, we felt the impact would be most deeply felt if we concentrated our efforts in one country. After Mike’s charity cycle with Oxfam through Cambodia, his first choice was obvious. The vote was then put to the rest of the Atlassians, who also chose Cambodia.
Stay tuned for the next blog from Cambodia, What we’ve accomplished so far.
I’m Ruth Kamina Kapea, the executive assistant to the co-founding CEOs of Atlassian and the Room to Read ambassador for our Foundation. I’m a New Zealand-born Perth girl living in Sydney. Like most, I love to travel, enjoy good food and wine, and can’t give up dark chocolate. My eyes were opened 9 years ago about the importance of educating young girls in the developing world after sponsoring little Miss Woyneshet M from Ethiopia. She is now 14 and can read and write and wants to be a teacher. I love receiving her letters. This is my first blog. Hello!