The Cambodia Children’s Fund has improved the lives of more than 3,000 students and their families living around the Stung Meanchey landfill over the past 15 years, the NGO said in a report yesterday.
The report, released during CCF’s 15th anniversary celebration in the capital, said it provided food and medical care to 6,590 families and supported the education of 3,364 students, 260 of whom have completed higher education.
It noted that among the first batch of 200 students who were rescued in 2004, 68 percent are now studying in university or have graduated. CCF added that it had also built 450 houses for some of those living around the dumpsite.
Scott Neeson, its founder and executive director, yesterday said that over the past 15 years in Cambodia, he has overcome many challenges to help Cambodian children living around Stung Meanchey dump.
“I am so proud to have helped so many living near the dumpsite to change their lives,” he said. “They have become a more organised community, living in hygienic conditions and their children have an education.”
Mr Neeson added that CCF will continue its mission to help more children in the future. He thanked all those who are supporting CCF to carry out its mission.
Princess Sisowath Pong Neary Monipong, who presided over the anniversary celebration, said that Cambodia is grateful to CCF, especially Mr Neeson, for helping Cambodian children to get an education and live better lives.
“They are not his children, but he is helping them from the bottom of his heart by providing them with a good education, food and clothing and enabling them to live in better conditions,” she said. “This is a major contribution toward the Kingdom’s human resources.”
Nai Cheang, a CCF staffer responsible for looking after the children, yesterday said that most of them living near the dumpsite are poor.
“Most of these children have parents who are scavengers, have died or have migrated to other countries to seek a living,” she said. “Now CCF has changed their lives by sending them to school, tutoring them in English and providing them with food, clothing and study materials.”
Thoeun Vibol, 49, a scavenger, yesterday said that she is from a poor family in Prey Veng province.
She said she migrated to live at the dumpsite along with her husband in order to make a living by collecting and selling reusable items among the trash.
Ms Vibol said she migrated 20 years ago and has two children, aged seven and 12 years.
“CCF has helped me and is helping to educate my children,” she said. “Later they will be able to find jobs and support the family.”
Thav Vanny, 13, a Grade 7 student, yesterday said that her father became disabled while she was studying in Grade 2 in Battambang province.
She said that in order to support the family, she moved to live near the dumpsite to earn a living as a scavenger.
“I dropped out of school in Grade 2, and left my home province,” Ms Vanny noted. “CCF supported me to continue my studies and now I am studying in Grade 7.”
“I look upon Scott as a father because he saved me and my family from poverty,” she added.