Thanks for taking the time to visit my JustGiving page.
For several years now, I have been supporting the Cambodian Children's Fund that helps lifting the most impoverished children out of property and provides them with education, healthcare and family support. CCF was started by former Hollywood executive Scott Neeson who gave up his job as president of 20th Century Fox International, sold his house, cars and yacht and moved to Phnom Penh to help the children who were scavenging on the notorious Steung Meanchey garbage dump to earn a meagre income for their families.The initial goal was to help 40 children. Now, 15 years later, almost 2000 children go to school, they and their families receive health care and some have even finished university.
With my trek across the Alps, from Bolzano in Italy to Oberstdorf in Germany, I want to help Sophea and Srey Nich to be able to attend university. Considering their stories (see below) and the tough lives they are having, the 14-day hike over 260km and a total of more than 20,000 meters ascend is a stroll in the park.
Please help these two young women to break the cycle of poverty. My fundraising goal is GBP 7,000 which would cover the total cost of the entire university education for Sophea and Srey Nich. No amount is too big or too small to help reaching this goal.
Sophea's and Srey Nich's stories are below:
My name is Sophea. I am 19 years old. My parents have 3 children. I am currently in Grade12. My final national exam is approaching. I am fully confident that I will pass the exam and it’s going to be the next big step for my life.
My father was an alcoholic before he fell seriously sick. It almost claimed his life. My mom and I were very scared. We had so little hope that he will survive. Fortunately, with his commitment to quit drinking and follow doctor’s advice, he is still with us. Now he can’t even stand the smell of alcohol. We couldn't be happier to see a new him.
We are originally from the Prey Veng province. In 2007, due to financial hardship, my family decided to move to Steung Meanchey. When we first arrived, we didn’t have a place to stay. We shared an old shack with my grandma and uncle on the dump-site. I was devastated by the unbearably foul smell of the dump-site. It was just stinking. My family and I had no choice but to try to get used to it and adapt to such a horrendous environment. After a while, my parents made a living through scavenging for recyclables to survive as many others did. Most families living in the area depended predominantly on scavenging for their livelihood at that time.
One of the many other things I can recall is my sister and I had to scavenge, sifting through dirty trash just to get a little cash. At that time, I didn’t go to school. What is even worse is that I was born weak and usually got sick. I was not healthy as other kids. My parents had to spend a lot of time and money to send me to hospital. I thought of myself as a troublemaker and a burden to my family.
Later on, I was accepted into CCF’s program. That was the time I started to know Scott. Slowly but surely, we began to rebuild our lives – thanks to a wide range of services, provided by CCF. Now our life has returned to some kind of normality – I am now at school and looking forward to the bright future. I want to become a photographer and a film director.
My parents stopped scavenging. My dad is now a construction worker while my mother is a full-time garment factory employee. Without CCF’s support, we can’t imagine what our life will look like. We are deeply grateful to Scott, donors and sponsors who have made this happen. Our lives have been improved a lot over the past 12 years. My siblings and I have received a good education, healthcare, and other services. I now have the opportunity to chase my dream and get out of poverty.
Since my high school graduation is just around the corner, I am excited and very much looking forward to taking the next step forward to my tertiary education in photography and filming. In the future, I hope to contribute back to CCF. It is my second home and family. I want to volunteer here, teaching photography and filming to other CCF students who are interested.
SREY NICH'S STORY
My name is Srey Nich. I am 20 years old. I have 7 siblings and I am the fifth child. Currently, I am living with my family in a rental room in Steung Meanchey. My mother is a cleaner and my stepfather is a mechanic at Cintri (garbage disposal company).
My family originally comes from Kampong Chhnang. There, my parents were farmers and farming was the only means to make a living. One day, my parents decided to move our family to Phnom Penh to seek a better opportunity. In Phnom Penh, my parents rented a room near the Steung Meanchey dump-site. They found jobs as construction workers. They were working very hard but earned little money to support the family. There was truly no hope in life as my family got worse from time to time.
My father started to drink alcohol and quickly became an alcoholic. He hit my mom almost every day. Since then, my mom can’t go to work anymore. She ended up being a scavenger. She usually brought my siblings and me to pick up some recyclable wastes. We didn’t go to school. Sadly, the income she earned was not enough as my father also got seriously sick, HIV. My mum borrowed money from a lender to treat my father’s illness. Things were getting worse. Then my father died in a traffic accident. From then on, my mom was alone supporting our family.
Living in Steung Meanchey, where drugs scared people, especially to teenagers, my both brothers fell to drugs and they were arrested. They were sentenced to jail for a couple of years. My mom started to get depressed and I always felt shocked and emotional to remind my past experience to someone.
My mum was introduced to CCF. She quickly brought us to seek support. We all were accepted to enroll to CCF’s Education. Additionally, CCF had also offered a house to my mum to stay in the Kompong Cham province. I and my siblings stay at CCF’s facilities.
In Kompong Cham, my mom worked as farmhand and she was supported by CCF every month, both money and rice. Living there for a while, my mom started to have a relationship with a man, who is my stepfather now. My mom and stepfather decided to rent a room together as my stepfather got a job as a mechanic at a CINTRI. My stepfather is a good and responsible man. He loves all of us.
I am currently in Grade 12 at CCF. I am ready for my upcoming national exams and university. I want to study Business Administration as I want to be a manager and run my own business. I hope I will be success and I will contribute back to my society. I am very thankful to CCF for providing me such a great opportunity and a quality education.