Many thanks to Northbridge University for donating student desks, chairs, bookshelves, pin boards etc, no longer needed by the University. Much needed by us as we are moving to a new classroom (for 24 students) in the sewing room building for the coming wet season, our children would get wet in the outside tarpaulin huts. These are the first desks we have ever had for the children, Vanny is so happy to have a real classroom.
On Thursday the 30th April I had the pleasure of attending the wedding of Phara & Ratana, Phara was from the last Village. Some of you may remember her elderly grandparents were both blind and we had their sight restored, Grandma attended, so glad she could see the wedding.
Seems when we send our girls to “Open Arms” hairdressing academy they end up getting married as did Srey Py, both girls now live in Phnom Penh.
Phara is from an extremely poor background, in the last couple of years her life has changed completely, we wish her well in the future…..Ross
About 250 Australians with child sex convictions travelled to the Philippines last year, the Australian Federal Police (AFP) has revealed.
Filipino police are currently pursuing a case against Australian man Peter Gerard Scully for what they allege are some of the worst child sex offences in the nation’s history.
The AFP was involved in the investigation and arrest and says 250 known Australian child sex offenders travelled to the Philippines last year alone.
A spokesman has told the ABC that Australia alerts Filipino authorities when a sex offender boards a flight, but it is up to them whether to refuse entry.
Mr Scully, 51, who has no previous convictions for child sex abuse, was arrested and charged with sexually abusing 11 children aged between 18 months and 13 years.
He allegedly spent years sexually abusing and torturing young children and streaming his crimes online, where the AFP says he charged between $US100 and $US10,000 for the videos he filmed.
The Melbourne man has also been charged with the murder of one of his alleged victims, a 12-year-old girl, along with rape, torture, human trafficking and violating cyber laws.
On Saturday, authorities in the Philippines said Scully was working with foreign accomplices in his child pornography operation and launched a manhunt for four foreigners believed to be involved.
The Australian embassy held an emergency meeting late last week in relation to the case.
THE SHOCKING TRUTH
I am posting the story above as I believe it’s both shocking and alarming in numbers, much higher than I thought. I guess that many more Australians without convictions are also living or travelling to the Philippines to target children. Add to this sex offenders from other countries visiting the Philippines. How many tens of thousands must be going to South East Asia and other Nations around the world each year.
These predators try to go unnoticed in their hunt for children by doing normal things a visitor does when overseas. Often child sex abusers seek out street children or get involved with activities where children can be met without drawing unnecessary attention. Last year a man from the UK and other foreigners were convicted of child sex crimes in a scheme involving children from an Orphanage in Seam Reap.
Charities working with children have always been a target for sex abusers, screening for good volunteers to help CHOICE is a very difficult task, the child sex abuser doesn’t have a big P on his forehead. We are a very small Charity, from 2006 I have had to ban about ten would be helpers, at the time I and others believed that five of these were paedophiles. Of those five, three are now convicted of child sex crimes and are currently in jail in Phnom Penh. As far as I know only one had prior convictions, all of them were targeting street children, a soft target. Why, because they present themselves to the abuser asking for money, they usually speak English.
As a child I was told “do not talk to strangers” this is a common message from parents to protect their children. I find it hard to understand that visitors often play, photograph, give food and money to Cambodian children on the street, when they are the total strangers. Though not intentional tourists are grooming these children for the sex offender. Tourists say they are just having fun with the kids without realizing the next person may well be a paedophile.
So what can we do? We can explain to friends and school groups visiting Cambodia, please avoid helping or visiting Orphanages, this message is slowly getting through. It’s also not acceptable to take an unknown child from the street for drinks or for a meal in your country, it’s no different in Cambodia. Please ignore the street kids, most are not poor, good Khmer families regardless of their income, do not allow their children to roam the streets alone. Cambodian children deserve a childhood and an education lets help them achieve this without exploitation, it’s about them not us.
THURSDAY 19 FEBRUARY: “FREE WILL” PRE-LAUNCH & FUNDRAISING MUSIC EVENT organised by SINGER AND SONGWRITER TALLY KOREN at LCCA in aid of Cambodian Charity CHOICE Cambodia.The Venue: London College of Contemporary Arts (LCCA, http://www.lcca.org.uk ), Sheraton House, 15-19 Great Chapel Street, W1F 8FN. To view a map, go to http://tinyurl.com/kjbrgva . The event will take place in The Gallery, on the ground floor. This room has theatre-like seating.
The Event: Tally Koren (a member of my group, and known to many of you) will be our host. She will be accompanied by Phil Curran (pianist), Jamie Fisher (drummer) and other special guests. This will be a Pre-Launch Event, in advance of the launch of Tálly’s single “Free Will” on 23rd February. You will receive a welcome drink (a glass of red wine) on arrival. A classical guitarist will start the show, and this will be followed by a presentation about the charity CHOICE. After this,Tally will perform a special set for the occasion, including some of her favourite romantic covers to which she will be giving a jazz twist. She will also perform her Forthcoming Single “Free Will”. After her performance, she will be available to sign CDs. You can see more details and a flyer of the event at https://billetto.co.uk/…/tally-koren-free-will-pre-launch-e… , but do not book through this site as that way you would need to pay the full price for your tickets.
Timings: The doors will open at 7pm. The show will start at 8pm and finish at about 9.15pm. We are asked to leave by 9.30pm.
About Tally Koren: This event is organised by soulful singer and songwriter Tally Koren ( http://www.tallykoren.com ). Tally’s inspiring and uplifting songs plus her distinctive, unique voice and engaging stage presence is starting to make waves around the globe. She has been receiving great critical acclaim for her recent performances, including singing ‘Free Will’ at the House of Commons,‘Tate Britain’ and receiving the Fringe Award for best singer songwriter in 2011. In addition, Tally is very passionate in the use of music to bridge the gaps between different cultures and has recently received a prestigious award as an “Ambassador for Peace” at the House of Commons.
About CHOICE: Tally is kindly organising this event as a fundraising event for CHOICE, a charity close to my heart, and I would be grateful if you can support it by joining the event. Alternatively, you can donate via the following link: https://mydonate.bt.com/charities/choicecambodia . CHOICE stands for Charitable Humanitarian Organization in Cambodia by Expats. This charity strives to make a difference to extremely poor and disadvantaged Cambodians, especially the homeless, the isolated and villagers who have no land or jobs, and no access to healthcare and education. The main projects are the delivery of safe drinking water to villagers in squatter areas where water filters are ineffective owing to arsenic, cyanide and other heavy metals in bore water; education for young children in the CHOICE Centre; the provision of transportation for older children (from 6 years old) to get to and from a state school; and healthcare. CHOICE is registered as a charity in England and Wales. Please visit http://choice-cambodia.org and check out some of the pages to learn more.
Booking Procedure: The normal cost of tickets is 15 pounds, but members of my group (maximum 40) who book with Tally’s PA (Andrea) by 11pm on Sunday 15 February will get in for 10 pounds. To book, send an e-mail to email@example.com *[with e-symbols phoneticised: tckproduction “at” gmail “dot” com]. Please use the following as your subject heading: “Thurs 19 Feb: LCCA/GB”, and state your full name and the total number of people for whom you are booking. Please type your surname (family name) in CAPITAL letters to make it easier for Andrea to arrange the guest list in alphabetical order. You do not need to give the names of your guest(s), if any (for example: John SMITH, 4 places please). Andrea will aim to reply to your booking requests within 1 to 2 working days.
Five year old Sambart was born blind, for years now CHOICE has been supplying aid to his family. Now we have enrolled Sambart in the Krousar Thmey school for the blind. He has settled in very well and is excited and eager to learn and return after his first week.
We have to thank Thea Quin and her family and Richard Jones for sharing the costs Sambart needs in order to attend the school. He lives at the school from Monday to Friday and travels home for the weekends. At the moment costs are US$36pm for food, $60pm for transport (a 2 hour trip on a motorbike) and a couple of $$ for washing his clothes. We still continue supplying rice each month for the family in the Village. Initially we had to provide 4 school uniforms, a back pack, footwear, toiletries, other clothing and a Bike helmet. Other ongoing costs are needed to establish a birth certificate and family book as the family have none of these.
Many thanks to “Bikes 4 Life” for donating 25 bicycles to the CHOICE Children. Thanks to CCF and Leanne Balkin and all other organizations involved in organizing this.
Because we have more than 100 students we will present a bike to the students that have the best attendance record and live furthest from our school. Besides providing transport its a great incentive for these kids to attend school as they are from extremely poor squatter families.
Srey Peck will be the first as she has an excellent attendance record and lives far away, presentation pictures of this will be shown as they are handed out.
Phee Cheang Ing aged 8yo is a newcomer to the first Village. Her right leg is much shorter than her left leg and she suffered pain in her upper leg from walking on her toes all the time. Her first tempory fix was the Ross flipflop which releived the pain until we got her measured up professionally by Veterans International, an NGO for the disabled. For US$7 we now had a properly measured flipflop but it was very heavy and only lasted a few weeks, see the picture with the broken strap. With sponsorship of $56 from Liz Smith from Chester UK. Cheang has a much better quality and lighter shoe now, with another pair on order see the last picture.
CHOICE has moved their official meeting place from Sundance Inn to Longlin House a Khmer run Guest House, Restaurant and Bar. They have two buildings one 50 meters west of Sundance Inn, the other place is just around the corner in Street 19, much larger, it has a very long frontage to street 19, (No.159)
We thank Harry and his staff at Sundance Inn for their support over the last couple of years, please continue your patronage there when you visit.
An Article from the KHMER TIMES Phnom Penh, Cambodia.
Students in a classroom at the Choice Center in a squatter village in Kandal Province, south of Phnom Penh. (KT Photo: Billy Otter)
Back to Basics: An NGO That Works
KANDAL PROVINCE (Khmer Times) – Good intentions are getting bad reputations in the often opaque world of Cambodia’s 4,000 NGOs.
Reports abound of inflated salaries to directors like Somaly Mam, orphanages where most “orphans” have a parent, and “voluntourism” where well-meaning foreigners pay exorbitant rates to work at charities. These problems fuel a website: “Scambodia.”
NGOs are under increasing pressure for transparency, starting with posting their accounts online. In response, NGO fundraising appeals increasingly state what percent of funds go for programs, and what percent go for fundraising.
Despite bad publicity, Cambodia is expected to enjoy its favored status as “the world’s cause.” In that light, the Khmer Times highlights one NGO that channels a maximum amount of donations to helping poor Cambodians.
Choice is a small grassroots aid group, operated since 2006 by expatriates in Phnom Penh. Its full name is: Charitable Humanitarian Organization In Cambodia by Expats.
One minute of tapping on a computer keyboard, and Choice’s accounts appear on a computer screen. Go to the website of the Charity Commission for England and Wales. Type “Choice Cambodia” into the site’s search engine. Up pops a one-page sheet detailing “Receipts” and “Payments.”
Elsewhere, a quick exploration of the Choice website yields a monthly list of donors, by names and amounts.
“The books are always honest, balanced and open,” said Srey Leak Kasna, the charity’s auditor, who donates her time. “The charity does good work for the poor people in the villages, so I am happy to help however I can.”
Judging by their website and by visits to their work site in Kandal province, Choice accomplished a lot last year with a total budget of $71,000.
Their secret? Real volunteerism. No expat is paid. Only the Khmer, with the exception of Ms. Kasna, receive salaries. Expats working with Choice include: a retired New York filmmaker, a retired British policeman, a Dutch cook, and a German internet entrepreneur.
Choice was started here by Ross Wright, a retired Australian telecommunications worker. Now 70 years old and the charity’s secretary. Mr. Wright says donors should ask tough questions of NGOs.
“People feel betrayed by these stories, but they haven’t done their homework either,” he said, referring to the bad publicity. “Before you donate, have a look to see if they are a fully and currently registered charity. Ask them questions. If they don’t give the answers you want, be wary. Very wary” Choice is secular.
“We do not want to change them, or convert them into anything else. All we want to do is improve the lives they have,” said Mr. Wright, a native of Geelong, Australia who favors broad brimmed hats in the tropical sun.
Wright’s group focuses on a poor village of squatters located one hour by car southeast of Phnom Penh. On arrival at the village eight years ago, Choice’s first step was to provide clean drinking water.
“We found that wells had been dug by NGOs for these villages of squatters, but no one had tested the water,” he recalled. “The residents were always ill. And through testing, high levels of arsenic were discovered.”
Choice installed water filters and cisterns for safe storage of water.
“Once they had access to clean water for drinking and cooking, the symptoms we’d been seeing began to disappear,” Mr. Wright said.
By collecting donations from friends overseas, expat volunteers were able to create the Choice Center. Now two adjacent rented buildings, this center has classrooms, a computer lab, a sewing room, a hair salon, and a dental facility donated by a Malaysian supporter. Support groups have been formed in Singapore, Germany and Australia.
The German group donated money for the purchase of a 3-ton truck. It serves a dual purpose – water truck for water deliveries and school bus to take village children to a state school.
Foreign donations pay for scholarships – for auto mechanics, hair styling, university, and even for one village youth who is at medical school.
Two young women who studied hair styling in Phnom Penh, decided to take jobs there, delaying opening of the village hair salon.
“What are you going to do?” asked Mr. Wright. “You can’t stand in the way of their opportunities.”
Choice is negotiating to sew uniforms for school children in Manchester, England.
“The girls in the sewing center are paid a wage, and it gives them training in a marketable skill,” Wright said, referring to the Cambodia’s garment factories which employ 750,000 workers.
Twice a month, a medical-dental day is held at the Choice Center. Villagers are transported by truck to the Center. There, they receive attention from a volunteer dentist and a paramedic.
“Most dental programs focus on children only, and stop at 18 years of age,” Mr. Wright said. “Some of these villagers have suffered with poor dental health for many, many years. So we offer the service to anyone from within the villages we serve.”
Serious medical cases are forwarded to hospitals and funded by Choice. They have paid for: a heart operation on a boy, facial reconstruction for a baby born with no palate, and on-going care for a man suffering from leprosy.
Mr. Wright said of hospital costs in Cambodia: “Here you have to provide your own nursing care and your own food. We also give them money to get back to their village.”
Most Khmer School children return in November this year, our children are wanting to get on with their education so they were keen to start again in October.
Pictured below are our kids getting their new back packs books, pencils etc. we have supplied some 150 packs so far. We thank Womens International Group who provided the funding for the back packs.
Australia: 2014 Many thanks to collectors David Mewett, Burnie Clebney, John Wilson & friends, Kath Saligari & friends, Lindsay Johnston, Scott, Darren & Allan Woolley, and many others in the Ballarat area for collecting 4 woolbails of ringpulls (650Kg) which raised AUD$810.00 for CHOICE Cambodia.
Many thanks to David Mewett for a further donation of AUD $1250.00 from the sale of collected scrap metal.
Many thanks Robert for this video, to view please click here.
Sokha’s son Channy has never been so happy, he is one of the 10% of Cambodian year 12 students that has passed the final exam. In December last year we arranged with the headmaster to place Channy in the year 12 class. Only 2 others passed in Channy’s class of 25 students. For 3 years CHOICE have been paying for Channy to receive private tuition as he had to miss 2 years of normal Government school classes to look after his sick mother.
After his exams in August, CHOICE paid for Channy to attend a driving school, now he has his licence and is employed by CHOICE. He will have a bright future now, besides driving for us he can attend Computer and English classes, he wants to learn sewing in our sewing rooms in the evenings as well. Sokha has been moved to the CHOICE Center and will live in one of the huts recently supplied at the center by Global Village Housing. As you can see we have to lay pavers under the hut and create a pathway. Sokha will be able to join in conversation with the children at times and enjoy a much better lifestyle.
Sarom is a sponsored University Scholarship student through our CHOICE “P365” program. She is beginning 4th year in October 2014. This lovely letter of appreciation is for all volunteers and sponsors that make it possible to run programs like this. So please accept this letter as a personal thank you to you all from Sarom.
Many thanks to the Tharuma Family consisting of Prema Latha, Pushpa Latha and Ashok kumar from Singapore. They are supplying 250ml milk drinks, around 110 are given out each Monday, Wednesday and Friday to the children attending the CHOICE School. At the moment that is 330 a week and its school holidays. A good reason to attend school.
Many thanks to Global Village Housing, Jason Thatcher and his excellent team of managers and builders. On Friday the 15th August 2014 his team arrived at the CHOICE Center early in the morning, by 5pm the 2 huts were completed.
Special thanks to the donors who cover the cost of the huts, the brown hut was donated by Harry & Marilyn Hoff and the green hut by Gary & Abigail Teeven.
We just have to finish off underneath the huts and get the solar connected. The brown hut will be home for Sokha and her son Channy, Sokha has suffered a broken neck and cannot walk. The green hut is for Jon and her 5 yo blind son Sambart and his other siblings.
Two more huts will be built in the first village in September.
With sponsorship help from Debbie Wines and CHOICE we have created a business for Vanak, single mother of 4 young children. So far the business outside her house (selling drinks and Khmer cheese) is working for Vanak. She is one of the poorest in the Village and is now gaining some independance and self satisfaction.
For the year 2013/2014 many changes have taken place.
We have reduced the staff in the sewing room to three, so now we have a total of 16 Khmer on the payroll. This is a reduction from the previous year and includes 2 part time accountants.
A new project in Phnom Penh and very successful we pay for students and apprentices accommodation, food, transport, uniforms and their fees etc. and provide a live in manager. Two village girls successfully completed a one year hair and beauty course with “Open Arms”, fully sponsored by CHOICE. Both very competent and now employed in Phnom Penh. We have established a hair salon at the CHOICE Center for a training workshop and for volunteer Hairdressers to cut hair for villagers and their children.
Currently we have 3 boys again fully sponsored by CHOICE attending JVC and undertaking a Motor Mechanics apprenticeship. We are considering sponsoring one more boy if we can get a sponsor.
University Scholarships, we have 3 village girls, 2 living in the P365 house and fully sponsored by CHOICE, attending Universities in P/Penh, 2 are doing English Literature and one is a Medical student. Again one more village student on the waiting list if we can raise enough funds.
We have trained 7 Village women, some are now working in Garment Factories, and we have retained 3 for now and trying to arrange marketing for them through CFG and GWC.
Rudi Smith must have treated more than a 1000 patients from the Village this year at the CHOICE clinics. As well we have taken more than 100 patients to Hospital for treatment, mostly children. There were two elderly blind Khmer; they had their eyesight restored with laser treatment. Many more people were treated locally, a lot with typhoid and several births, their bills were paid by CHOICE. Dr. Evelien Hoedemaker, our volunteer dentist, has treated at least 100 in the dental clinic at the Center.
The water run always proves to be the best form of medicine for the Villages; we hardly ever see diarrhoea now, and over time will save many lives from Arsenic poisoning. More birth control for women, at least a dozen this past year. We still have many new babies born in the Villages and the need for formula milk is ongoing and expensive for us.
We employ 5 teachers, the children’s English is improving all the time, and their computer skills are extremely good, we are now connected to the internet. On average we are feeding 100 children and staff each weekday and every second Saturday. CFS provides for most of this and each meal includes fruit.
CFG bought us a new Truck in December 2013 for transport of the children and for water deliveries, it’s going well. The old truck was costing us a lot and always breaking down so we sold it. We want to sell the Remok as its dangerous and not needed now with the bigger truck. We do need a large tuk tuk for taking day time patients to Hospital and transport for smaller Village groups.
We have on going and valuable support from numerous Volunteer groups and individuals around the world, too many to mention and I dare not in case I miss some. These volunteers are the backbone of CHOICE without them we would collapse. The committee are grateful for the good work and support given by all our Volunteers.
“Voluntourism” or “Volunteerism” as it’s known in Cambodia is a growing problem and respectable organizations here unite in a campaign to fight the problem. At CHOICE we decided to increase the price of a daily trip to the Center from $5 to $15. It has worked, now we have reduced the number of volunteers, and we only attract the more serious Volunteer. The campaign slogan here says something like “Do not put our Children in a glass cage, it is not a zoo”. We need the “Serious Volunteers” that want to help the children, not “Pop in Volunteers” that want to help themselves.
Choice Family Singapore (CFS), Choice Family Germany (CFG) and Choice Family Australia (CFA), Georgia’s Worldwide Charity (GWC).
We need a Sponsor for Vanak, US$75 per month can you help.
On the 4th July and at the local clinic in the province, 29yo Pov Vanak gave birth to a Baby boy. I received a call for help the next day, in order for Vanak to be released with her new son, a bill of US$25 had to be paid. On behalf of CHOICE I paid the bill, then everyone insisted I name the baby, so he is Liam after one of my Grandsons, oddly enough the babies cousin is Lam.
Vanak is a deserted wife with 3 other children Tola and Lili (girls) and Ty a boy. It is unfortunate that sometimes these women have to prostetute themselves in order for them to survive. Vanak cannot breast feed so CHOICE will provide 4 cans of Formula milk each month ($45) and a bag of rice each month as Vanak cannot work now. We gave Liam a supply of donated baby clothes and a knitwear outfit and formula milk.
Three boys from our poor villages have begun their Mechanics apprenticeships with JVC in Phnom Penh, English is also taught. CHOICE have provided JVC with a Volunteer English Teacher but they need another, please contact CHOICE if you can help.
Accomodation is provided by JVC food and books etc. are not, these are paid through CHOICE by sponsorship of Lorin and Max from Italy.
Pictured top is Bou Pannha below left is Pannha, Sarith Laoheng, Vot Pannha and one of the teachers. The last picture is the kitchen area and safe storage lockers.
On Saturday night the 21st June we enjoyed a Suki Soup dinner in Phnom Penh with 21 staff and volunteers from CHOICE Cambodia.
The evening was to celebrate the coming birthday of Kasna and say goodbye to Vanny who is leaving us, both events happening on the 26th June.
We wish Vanny all the best with her new career and we don’t want to hold her back, Vanny and Kasna are much loved by us all. Both these girls have worked hard and deserve good jobs, they are perfect examples of what can be acheived in Cambodia if you work hard.
During and after the presentations we all had tears in our eyes, Vanny sobbed, her eyes flooded with tears “this is the best day of my life, no-one has ever given me flowers before”
Both these girls help CHOICE with the accounting work and both will continue to do so, its so much appreciated.
After dinner we were entertained by Vandy and Sal both got up on the stage and sang.
A great night for us all, many thanks to Michael who paid for the meals of all the Khmer, Rachel and Ross for donating the roses and cake.
While the Medical/Dental clinic is in progress every second Saturday, traditional Cambodian Apsara dance lessons are taught to some of our students at our center outside of Phnom Penh.
Pictured below are the students along with Instructor Puntheary, standing alone on the right. Puntheary is receiving a Scholarship funded by Latrobe University Melbourne through our CHOICE “P365” project. This is her way of paying us back in return for the support we give her, thanks Puntheary.
This dear tiny baby boy from Jasmine Village Cambodia is just 10 days old, perfect timing for a new knitted outfit as the day was cold and it was raining. As you can see Mum was delighted to see him dressed in his new outfit. One of many knitted by Scott’s mum from the Narrabeen community in Australia and donated to CHOICE Cambodia, thanks to all.
Many thanks to IFC (International Finance Corporation) Phnom Penh. Once again they are helping CHOICE to support poor Cambodian children. This time they have donated 7 Lenova ThinkPad X201 laptops, all in excellent working condition (plus some accessories) and not very old. The timing could not have been better as several of our anceint laptops have problems beyond repair. Now we have 16 good working laptops for the students and 2 for the Khmer staff. Pictured below are the laptops and some of the students working with them.
On the 2/06/2014 CHOICE were invited to the Graduation Celebrations of 26 girls that had undertaken the 12 month course at the Open Arms Beauty & Hairdressing School. All but one have jobs waiting for them. CHOICE were represented by Ross Wright and Rachel Prins, Rachel has been assisting the girls in the salon at the CHOICE Center on the girls days off. CHOICE funded the girls accommodation, living costs, fees, language lessons, bicycles and the tools of the trade, as these two girls from the squatters village are from extremely poor families. Prior to this they had no hope of gaining meaningful employment or bettering their lives. Phara and Srey Py are both employed now in Phnom Penh as Hairdressers. It brought tears to our eyes to know of their terrible existance before and see them presented on the night. Now beautiful young skilled and confident young women, able to fend for themselves.
It was a lovely night well organized and presented by Sandra and her husband Grahame Wade from Australia. We thank them and their team for the care and training they have given to the girls. We will be more than willing to send any other Village girls to Open Arms in the future should they want to complete this course.