Vision Artist Kat Ezereve in Cambodia
I have been fundraising for a World Vision Child Rescue centre in Cambodia for a number of years. Around $20,000 was raised through my CD’s and generous businesses in the WA region. Recently, an opportunity arose where I was able to see how my funds are being used through a visit to Cambodia! I wondered what the work of Child Rescue would look like. When I arrived in Cambodia, surprisingly there was no Child Rescue centre! Initially I felt a bit worried about where the money went however I was assured all of my questions would be answered.
I met the leader of Child Protection for World Vision who was lovely and explained the situation. She said that when I started fundraising the Child Rescue centre did exist but had since closed recently. Previously World Vision funds were being used for the running costs of the centre that was needed to conduct the program. Fortunately, the Cambodian government were able to provide a building which World Vision can use as a centre.
It made sense, I mean why use financial resources on paying rent for a centre when a government funded building is available?
I was taken on a tour to see how the Child Rescue program operates. We visited a Community Child Protection group at a temple which consisted of a nurse, teacher, policeman and village leader. They told us stories of how they were banding together to arrest child abusers and helping to further educate their community on helping vulnerable children. Outside a scruffy looking boy aged about nine started to beg in front of us. Without a second thought I gave him a bottle of water which he guzzled.
We also visited Chantha, a father of eight disabled by a land mine. His family lived on the city streets for over a decade. He and his family survived by collecting scrap metal and cashing it in to buy money for food! Remember there is no welfare in Cambodia! World Vision assessed Chantha’s situation and discovered he would be a good fit for running a small business. They organised training for him and now he works as a motor repairer and also sells chickens. His family now have a home and his children have a chance to break the poverty cycle by receiving an education.
In the evening we went to visit the Street Kids program. I was half expecting to come across a child brothel or something equally as shocking. Apparently years ago you might openly see that sort of thing, but it is no longer acceptable. A group of kids were sitting on a tarp and teenagers were telling a story. The World Vision supervisor explained that these were street kids and the older kids taught the younger kids how to be safe on the street by sticking together. They ran this program four nights a week which helps to feed and clothe the children.
Suddenly a boy rushed up to me and gave me the biggest hug. I was caught off guard and then recognised him as the boy who I had given the bottle of water to earlier on! The World Vision worker explained to me that this boy lived on the street with his brother because their parents were in jail for trafficking drugs. He looked the same age as my nine year old son Kale which really impacted me. I was informed that these kids survive by begging for money to buy food. I was very impressed with the World Vision worker who knew absolutely everything about each child. There was a teenage street boy who went to school every day and dreamed of becoming a doctor.
After the one hour program ended, the children scuttled off in to the night. I sat at the back of the van on the way home and had an emotional meltdown! I felt shocked and devastated by what I had seen and heard. The stories of these vulnerable children had hit a nerve and while I was heartbroken by the stories, I felt a sense of hope knowing the incredible work that World Vision is doing to change their lives for the better. I was honoured to have visited Cambodia and get a sense of how the money I am raising is making a difference in the lives of many. Join me and make a difference to the life of someone today by sponsoring a child.