Jennifer Gwynn: Consultant

Say Sopheak: In-Country-Honourable-Hand

Dr Maik Debes: Technical Consultant

 Gemma Marshall: Consultant

Tholla Chan: Consultant



The HATW Core Team

Cindy Maria Debes

Founder / CEO


Cindy is our team leader and we are in capable hands with over 10 years' experience in project management and her limitless passion to better the world . She has a Diploma in Logistics from the State Technical College for Construction, Economics and Transport in Germany and studied 4 languages and contract law over the years. She is also a teacher for English as a second language.


Her genuine love for people and philanthropic work is inspiring, her enthusiasm contagious and her drive to encourage other to realize their true potential unstoppable.


"As far back as I can remember I always felt the urge of contributing to the betterment of the lives of people who are less fortunate. Without a doubt, providing education is a massive and invaluable step towards this goal. There is not a day when I don't think about and take steps towards achieving the mission of HATW ".

Joanne Wilson

Australiam Team Lead & Chairperson


Jo has over 18 years of global consulting experience and she is a Certified Executive Coach with extensive leadership engagement experience. These skills and her loving and kind personality make here the perfect person to keep our team in line at our meetings and to develop strategies and plans with us.  She is currently working as an independent consultant in the health care industry. Jo’s work focuses on coaching and supporting leaders and she enjoys the opportunity to use these skills to support the Hands Across the World team.


Jo knows that “Volunteers do not necessarily have the time; they just have the heart.” (Elizabeth Andrew) and she is continuously inspired by the hearts and focus of the  HATW team, she says.


 "Being part of this organisation is a once in a life time opportunity to help make a huge difference to the HATW children’s lives".  

Ian Ross




 Ian created and grew two very successful and unique businesses in Western Australia and in 1982 he was invited to be a Charter Member of the Rotary Club of Willetton and has been a member ever since.  He was also named a Paul Harris Fellow for Services to the Community in 1988  and in 2012 was awarded a Sapphire to his PHF.


In his retirement he enjoys his large vegetable garden, is very active in the Canning Community Men’s Shed, enjoys caravanning including two laps of Australia and continues to be very active in Rotary.


Following a presentation by CEO Cindy Debes to his Rotary Club in 2015, Ian became involved with Hands-Across-The-World and spent November, 2015 at the HATW Kimheak School in Siem Reap as a volunteer English Teacher.  Ian continues his volunteer work with HATW and in January, 2017 was elected to the Board of Directors.


I have a special affinity with Cambodia, so, the opportunity to support and assist the Children of Cambodia through supporting and working with HATW fits well with me and now being a Director allows me greater input as to its direction.

Dr Anja Drame

Director (cultural anthropology, communications and advocacy)


Anja is working as an independent consultant for large and small international non-profit organisations.  As such, she conducts socioeconomic and geopolitical analysis, field surveys - and has a knack for labour practises in the developing world, CSR, and the mysterious realm of "comp & ben".


Although her expert region is Eastern and Southern Africa (triggered by an M.A. in African Studies), she has travelled and worked in Cambodia and other Asian countries as well. Her PhD is from the University of Vienna, Austria. When she is not abroad (which is on average every second day of the year), she resides in Germany. Anja's ideal world is "without borders"; and that quite describes her role and work at Hands Across the World and elsewhere.

Julia Flood

Director (Public Relations)


 Julia finalised a Bachelor Degree in Education before she moved from Germany to Perth in 2009. Although teaching is her background, Julia loves exploring different areas and is currently working for a property company as a Commercial Property Manager as well as helping out with company secretarial duties and being the firm’s office all-rounder. Julia is legendary for her extraordinary organisational skills and she leads our team of ‘Fundraising Geniuses’ with her bubbly, warm and professional personality. At HAtW she is also responsible for Public Relations as well as managing our events.


After hearing about HAtW I was certain that although HAtW is a small charity – it has a great impact on people’s life. I wanted to be part of this exciting journey, help the organisation grow and make education accessible for more children in disadvantaged areas. Education should be nothing extraordinary but a normality that is accessible to every child in this world.

To check out our upcoming events, click here.

Sophia Tho



Sophia is our Finance and Treasure Ace, a Chartered Accountant with almost 10 years of experience across Singapore and Australia. She has started out in public practice for about four years before moving into commerce. She graduated with a Bachelor of Accountancy from Nanyang Technological University in Singapore. Having benefited from a good education in one of the most developed countries in South-east Asia, she has seen the merits of education and is a firm believer that education is the best way to help the underprivileged break out of the poverty cycle. 



“When I saw the HATW´s recruitment ad for a volunteer and learnt about what they do, I was excited to be part of a team that has made and continues to make a positive impact on so many people´s lives. I love that I´m contributing my skills towards a cause that I also strongly believe in.”

Franci Genenncher

Human Resources Porject Partner 


Frances is a HR Professional with more than 8 years’ experience, she is also an Education Agent, Mentor and Coach, and is currently based in Perth, Western Australia. Frances brings an enthusiastic and compassionate approach to life, and loves to use this to bring the best out in others. She has a Bachelor in Business Administration, a Master in Human Resource Management, a Diploma in Project Management and she is a certified Coach. At HATW she is responsible for the recruitment and on-boarding of volunteers and general HR matters.

"Integrity is very important to me and I'm honoured to part of an organisation that shares my values and beliefs. Working for HATW is a very rewarding experience and also allows me to grow professional, personally and to make a lasting contribution to society."

Sylvia Tomasi

Events and New Media


Sylvia has been working in the travel industry for 20 years with the majority of that time working with groups and events. She is a passionate traveler and often visits places which have a completely different culture to Australia.  Having recently moved to Perth from Sydney she was looking to do some volunteer work in her new home town, Perth, and joined our events team in which she became instrumental very quickly.  As a huge writing and words talent, Sylvia also looks after our new media pages and is responsible for our news and updates which go out via our newsletter every couple of month.


I have always had a feeling I wanted to "save the world" so when I saw Hands Across the World advertise for a volunteer to help with organising their fundraising events, I felt this was the perfect fit. Here is a role where I can use my professional skills which will also benefit people who need help. My small contribution to saving the world!

Hannah O´Connor

Supporter Relationship Coordinator


Hannah has a big heart and passion to help and support worthy causes like ours.

Growing up she travelled and lived in South East Asia and  volunteered for numerous organisations, such as Blue Dragon Foundation in Vietnam. From a young age she has always questioned what more she can do to help people less fortunate and that´s why she is currently engaged in furthering her knowledge by studying Community Services to be  able to help directly in preventing, educating and raising awareness for women and children that are exposed to, or have been exposed to, being trafficked and exploited. 


“I strongly resonate with Hands Across the Worlds mission and values and I agree that through quality education we can prevent human traffickking, forced labour and sexual exploitation in disadvantaged communities. I am committed to dedicating my skills and time to help such an important cause. I love working alomgside like-minded people and knowing that we are making a difference to people´s lives. "

Laban Chiko

Strategy, planning and data analysis


Laban Chiko has a wealth of experience in the fields of Monitoring and Evaluation; Finance; Business Administration; and Peacebuilding & Conflict Management spanning over 13 years. Over the years he has worked for an African research organization; United Nations Volunteers; United Nations Development Programme; and the Government of Kenya through the Ministry of Interior and Coordination of National Government; a media monitoring company in Perth and the Department of Health. He has established skills in capacity building training, managing projects, monitoring and evaluation, research, and data analysis.  


“Empowerment of people drove me to be part of this team. The opportunity to be part of an organization that allocates over 95% of its resources to directly delivering desirable outcomes to communities is an honour. I am always left with a sense of fulfillment when I see how lives are changed and futures shaped by the work we do. ” 

Marie Slattery

Principal Officer for Child Protection and Education


Marie is our child protection and education goddess, having spent the last 10 years working in the social services sector with a focus on working with teenagers in crisis with emotional and behavioural difficulties. She studied psychology in Edinburgh and graduated with an honours degree. She has amazing abilities to help, listen and support people in need. She also brings along her Irish attitude - meaning quick witted and light hearted fun!

Steve Schlegel

(Small- Business Relations)


Steve is the manager of his own business and also manages a community group in Perth. This ambitious sparky is our business relationship pro with a Certificate IV in Instrumentation, Business Management and Frontline Management. He is forward thinking, motivated, cut throat and direct, however always delivers with cheek.


"I joined Hands Across the World in January 2014. Seeing the good work and future intentions of this organisation, I wanted to help to develop it further and support people who are less fortunate then us. I really want to look back one day and be able to say: "Yes, we made a profound positive impact on people's lives and their education so they could have a better outlook in life."

Sarah-Louise Seymour




Sarah started HATW together with Cindy as our creative mastermind and was great in connecting with the people during work in the field.  She is now on adventures all around the world and we miss her dearly and wish her all the very best of luck, love, health and happiness.


Sarah about her experiences on the 'Community-Survey-Day' in the Chrey Village:

"It was an amazing experience. To see the community come together and welcome us into their lives and homes. We all shared in the efforts of preparing for the event - cooking, cleaning, and dining together. There seemed to be a mutual gratitude and humbleness in sharing, that I will not easily forget."