Ross Wright, founder of CHOICE
Squatters, they are subjected to the whims of the landowners and the government. A not-for-profit organization, all the money goes to those who need it. There are no salaries for foreigners as all labour is voluntary. Further, expenses such as housing and travel are covered by the individuals, rather than organizational funds.
The CHOICE centre includes a school, a kitchen, a sewing room – where young women learn a marketable skill – and a medical and dental clinic. In the morning the truck – which doubles as the water tanker – picks up the students. Divided into two groups, they go to a government school for half the day and then switch to learn English at the centre. Computers are part of the curriculum, “A volunteer couldn’t believe how quickly the kids here caught on to emails and building web sites.”commented Ross Wright, the Australian founder and energy behind CHOICE “He said they were more advanced than the students he taught in America.”
The CHOICE programme operates a water delivery service from the centre to two outreach settlements. UNICEF dug wells in the villages; WHO tested the water and found it contained deadly traces of toxic chemicals, including arsenic and strychnine. Each family gets 60 liters of safe water a day from the tanker.“When we started delivering water, the health of the villagers improved noticeably in one day,” Ross shared. “The water looked clean, but it was literally killing them.”
“We call the villages No Truck, Cancer Man and Angela,” offered Ross. “The Khmer names are hard to pronounce and we don’t want foreigners hiring a car to come out and take a look around. It isn’t just like home and tourists could do a lot of damage by starting to give people money or not dividing things up evenly so everyone gets a share. If you have 10 books and 40 students it doesn’t work.”
After spending a day going out to the villages with CHOICE and seeing the projects first-hand, a representative from The Spring Fund handed Ross an envelope with a donation. Making a CHOICE to help sponsor this grass-roots organization was easy.