How It Began

A Valuable Lesson

We first came to Cambodia to visit a friend of ours in Phnom Penh. Born in Australia just like us, she started an operation that helps landmine survivors by offering them employment producing dried fruit products. Usually a Cambodian landmine victim’s only option is to beg on the streets, but this gives them quality of life, meaningful employment, and assisted living, while making it a self-sustainable operation. The true value of this became most clear when we read it on their faces.

Seeing this showed us that it really is possible for normal people to reach out and break the cycle of poverty.

The Rubbish Dump

While we were there, we took rice and veget ables to hand out to the people searching for plastic and recyclables on the Steung Meanchey rubbish dump. What we witnessed there will stay in our memories forever - seeing fellow human beings - adults and children alike - forced to spend their days breathing in dangerous methane gas and digging through rubbish that contained human body parts, rotting food waste and syringes, all in an effort to earn around $1.50 USD a day.

man carting rubbish

girl holding ragged doll

child on dump

We knew without a doubt that these people needed our help, so for the rest of our visit, we kept going back to deliver clean water and food.

The Day That Changed Our Lives

One day we couldn’t reach the dump because of heavy rain, so our driver took us to one of the communities living on the edge of the dump.

boy bathing in community on edge of slum

We drove past a pit drain flowing with open sewerage before arriving at the largest community around the dump, home of twenty-one different families. The houses were compilations of scrap iron and timber slats, surrounded by paths of broken bricks. When we came to a stop, the children ran out to greet us, and shyly the adults came to see what all the fuss was about.

When Paul stepped out of the Tuk-tuk (the vehicle we were travelling in), he lost his balance and fell over. Instantly two teenage boys came and helped him up, and assisted him over to talk to the leader of the village. Our driver translated for us, and Chandy, the leader explained how they had been in the village for 12 years because there were no work prospects for them in the countryside. He told us how some of the families had to pick rubbish all day every day just to get enough money to eat - some couldn’t even afford to allow their children to stop for a few hours a day to go to a free school.

These living conditions were nothing like we had ever experienced, and yet the people were warm and friendly, and we noticed how they accepted the food we offered with incredible dignity.

Chandy’s mother, Kim, quietly distributed the food evenly to the twenty-one families, and we were thanked with warm gratitude. Meanwhile Paul handed out bananas to the children, and when he found himself holding the stalk, he took the stem and improvised a game of cricket - Australia vs Cambodia. The runs were hampered by the broken bricks, but the children loved the game.

We had formed a friendship with them that would change our lives, and hopefully theirs too, forever.

For the rest of our stay we returned to the community to talk with the adults and play with the children. We took two translators with us to help us listen and learn about these incredible people’s lives.

some people from the community on edge of slum

On the plane, coming home to Australia, we both agreed that we had to do something to help this community. And so Care for Cambodia was born

Read About Cambodia to get a better understanding of this beautiful country and it's people, or learn about Our Vision for Care for Cambodia.