THERE are 7,000 kilometres between Tea Gardens and a tiny impoverished village in rural Cambodia, but some people in the Myall area are shrinking that distance fast.
For the past several years, they have been supporting Opportunity Cambodia, a small Australian charity that gives poor children in the Chikrend District south of Siem Reap the chance to attend school.
Tea Gardens identity Lee Anderson sits on the Opportunity Cambodia Board, along with founder and CEO Carolyn Fletcher AM and former NSW Premier Nick Greiner AC, among others.
Lee and husband Rob Anderson support the children financially and at least once a year Lee travels to the project to help out locally.
She visits the charity’s rural centre, its Siem Reap facility and the commune itself, which is supported by a pre-school and an animal husbandry scheme that helps villagers buy and raise pigs, chickens, ducks and even edible frogs.
Earlier this year, Lee took their eldest son Ben and his 14-year-old daughter Zoe to visit the village school.
Before leaving, Ben ran a fundraising event at his home to buy water filters, as polluted water is one of the greatest causes of death in children.
Ben ran a workshop to show how to use the filters as well as teaching basic science classes, something the children had never experienced.
Joining Lee on recent trips have been Kerryan Griffin of North Arm Cove and Adrienne Ingram from Tea Gardens.
Also helping out in the latest trip by Adrienne have been the Church of Australia in Tea Gardens and local couple Ken and Margaret Wyatt, who provided books and other materials for the schools.
Adrienne reckons it’s a worthwhile and special project.
“All the people involved here in Australia provide their time and resources for free,” she says.
“They pay themselves nothing, fund their own travel and accommodation and make sure that every dollar received goes directly to the project in Cambodia, paying the wonderful local staff and providing financial help and resources for the children and their families.”
Lee, Adrienne and Kerryan are now finalising plans for their next visit in late September and they say that anyone in the Myall area who wants to help can rest assured that any educational resources or financial donations will go 100 per cent to the children themselves.
Opportunity Cambodia’s website is at http://opportunitycambodia.org.au
By David INGRAM