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I’m the parent two wonderful children, Harry and Sara, who were adopted as orphans from Cambodia. My children have food everyday, clothing, go to school, have toys (probably too many), and many other necessities of life that we in the US often take for granted. When we were in Cambodia, many Cambodian people came up to us and said “Your child is very lucky!” We would reply, now we’re lucky parents. But in some respects, they were right. The infant mortality rate in Cambodia is very high, so my children are lucky to be alive.
When we adopted our beautiful children, we also adopted their birth country. We have embraced Khmer culture and we also feel a responsibility to give something back to the country, particularly to seriously disadvantaged children in Cambodia. Soon after coming home with our first child nearly seven years ago, I volunteered for the Sharing Foundation, an ngo that works directly with local officials, orphanages, and NGOs in Cambodia to identify and carry out projects which improve the lives of children. I now serve on the board.
There’s lots of could tell you about TSF and I encourage you to visit the web site so you can get an sense of the scope of the good work this organization does. One of its focus areas is education. Over 1,300 children in Cambodia receive educational support every day as a result of The Sharing Foundation initiatives. The Foundation has increasingly focused its efforts on ways to create and improve educational opportunities for Cambodian children of all ages, including public school projects, pre-school, Khmer literacy, English language instruction, high school and college sponsorships, and vocational training. These projects present what might be the only means for the most disadvantaged children to life themselves, as well as their families, out of poverty conditions, become self-reliant and lead more productive, hopeful lives.
The Foundation is now its second year of college sponsorships. Last year, our family stepped forward to sponsor Leng Soparath, an orphan from Kampong Speu orphanage. For a gift of $750 annually, TSF is able to cover her college fees and living expenses. (It is a stretch for us ... we’re not rich but this could make such a difference in the life of one young person) In addition to money, we provide emotional support and encouragement through regular letters and photographs that we exchange. Our letters are hand-carried to Cambodia by Sharing Foundation’s 76-year old founder, Dr. Nancy Hendrie. Watch the video for more information.
I’ve also documented our correspondence with Leng Sopharath in flickr (here, here, here, and here).
While TSF has paid staff, Cambodians, in Cambodia to manage all its programs, the work done in the US (primarily fundraising) is all volunteer-driven. Almost of the money raised comes from grassroots efforts and primarily done offline as well as some web fundraising. (See these wonderful examples.) So, when I saw the fundraising widget, it looked like a natural extension of the type of grassroots fundraising that we’ve been doing offline. And I might add that our family has made a commitment to sponsor Leng Soparath through graduation and we ask our friends, family, and colleagues to help us. Even my kids contribute money from their piggy banks and direct birthday money to the effort.
How you can help
1. Make a contribution: A little bit of money in Cambodia goes a long way. Click on the ChipIn badge above to charge your contribution.
2. Blog about the campaign and include campaign badge: Help tell the story aout why a college education for someone in Cambodia is so important. To copy the badge code,simply click on the HTML icon on the badge and cut and paste the code into your blog post. Here's a screencast that shows you how.
3. Click on the Video and Ad: The campaign video is in Revver which is advertiser based and pays per click through. You can also add the video to your blog by copying the code. All proceeds will be donated to support this project.
4. Digg it!: Click through and digg the story.
5. Advice: Give me some advice about how to get the word out by leaving a comment to this post.
Thank you! Here it is Khmer too!
P.S. Please be sure to read the letter from Leng Sopharath to the Sharing Foundation explaining why her college education means so much to her.