Charities to help Cambodian children?

Old Nov 18th, 2006, 09:10 AM
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Charities to help Cambodian children?

I was in Siem Reap and was very moved by the poverty there. My girlfriend and I would like to make a donation....

I know there is a Ponheary Ly foundation. Is this the best and only one to donate to? I did nto see it on Charity Navigator - I imagine it is too small. Recently I have been burned by finding out I was giving to charities where less than 20% of the money was going to the actual cause. It has left a sour taste in my mouth. I am not suggesting anything about the Ponheary foundation, I would just prefer to donate a large amount of money knowing some more about it.

Second question is, I would like to sponsor an individual child where I can receive update about the child - this sounds like it would be very rewarding.

Please help me and don't take offense.
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Old Nov 18th, 2006, 03:26 PM
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The PLF is very new so you may not see much mention of it elsewhere. Too bad you didn't meet Ponheary and visit a school or village when you were in Siem Reap. I do believe that it's a legit organization.

Ponheary has been channeling donations from tourists she meets through being a guide and guesthouse operator for years. All of the money goes directly to those who need it. Last year, a woman who posts here regularly was so inspired by Ponheary's work that she set up a registered charity in the US to increase publicity for her work. Being a registered charity also allows US taxpayers to take a deduction for their donation, a nice benefit not previously available.

Is the PLF the best one to donate to? I don't know. There are plenty of NGOs and NPOs and charity groups in Cambodia, most doing very good work I think. Often the bigger organizations use a good portion of the donations for operating costs...I know that the PLF does not do that.

I don't see any reason why you couldn't sponsor one child...we did just that this fall...we sponsored one child to attend secondary school. I didn't ask for a report or picture, but I don't see why if I did ask, Lori wouldn't be able to arrange that. You might send send her an e-mail via the website www.theplf.org.

The Hotel de la Paix and Shinta Mani can also direct your donations directly to a family in need....see their websites about that.

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Old Nov 18th, 2006, 09:20 PM
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Thanks for the reply! I saw on the website that they state they give 100% to the children with low overhead administrated cost. THanks for those that send up the charity.
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Old Nov 18th, 2006, 10:52 PM
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Hi veracity

Here are the obstacles to making the connection you desire to a specific child.

1. The kids the PLF is assisting are in the outer rural (and very poor) villages. These schools do not have electricity or running water, much less a viable way to communicate with the outside world.

2. These are primary school kids. Most of the kids we are dealing with are in the 1-3 grade. They do not yet have literacy in Khmer, much less English, so communication even via a letter is difficult. No one in the village speaks English. No one but the kids we sponsor even has a paper or pen. The literacy rate in these villages hovers around 30%.

3. Creating bridges between these kids and their sponsors means we have to have people on the ground who could translate and manage delivery of simple letters. Until there is a network of English-speaking Khmer volunteers committed to this effort, the only way this could be accomplished is to create the overhead to facilitate it. We are loathe to do this. Too many kids need to go to school for this sort of "luxury".

The Ponheary Ly Foundation (and many other similar ogranizations) are committed to bringing direct assitance to these kids exactly where they need it without creating overhead and without coming up on the radar of local government officals who would fleece us the minute they had the sense there was the opportunity to do so.

It's important for us to remaiin grassroots and low-key. It's an interesting environment to operate in to say the least.

It's hard to forget the things that you see when you are there and harder still to ignore the call to help. If you look hard you will find lots of very small, grassroots operations who are just going directly into the communities and executing their mission statement, never losing focus on what they are there to do. Just finding one place to help and doing the best they can to administer that assistance in a really common sense way.

Good for you for showing up and paying attention. There are lots of small orgainization who are making a difference and I know you will find the one that resonates.

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Old Nov 18th, 2006, 11:00 PM
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By the way Kim...

This is Ran Samrith. He goes to school because of you.

http://www.pbase.com/loricarlson/image/66518148

He is 15 years old and has no bigger dream than to complete high school. Neither of his parents went to school at all and he graduated from the 6th grade. He's a rock star in his family.

He rides his bike 12 km to school each afternoon, after he's already worked 6 hours in the fields. He's starting his English classes in January. Who knows how long it might take him to be able to compose a simple letter, but I know that once he can, he'll tell you the story about that day Ponheary went to the fields to find him and let him know she had found him a sponsor.



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Old Nov 18th, 2006, 11:00 PM
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Excellent reply about this Lori...thank you for adding it. I was hoping you would. I never even thought about some of the difficulties you mentioned...how naive am I?
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Old Nov 18th, 2006, 11:38 PM
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And just now I read the second part of your answer that you must have been posting same time as me.

Thank you! It's nice to know!
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Old Nov 19th, 2006, 01:40 AM
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Thank you Lori for eloquently explaining that.

I (as well as several family members who did not make the trip) plan on pledging some money to make this happen.

Trust me, I am a 28 year old man and I cried one night in a Cambodian guest house on my 5th night there because of how I felt about the children there.

Thanks again for everything you do.

PS Do you have any other organizations you suggest?? I do also plan on working with the new Microloan program I saw on Frontline.
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Old Nov 19th, 2006, 12:53 PM
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Reading through Siem Reap posts -- I saw the mention of Poheary's work but wasn't aware of Lori's efforts to get more support once people left Cambodia until this new set of posts, so am grateful for that.
Veracity -- I can really understand your desire to relate to/support one child. I think many of us wish for that direct connection because we want to know that our efforts make a difference. But everything Lori says makes excellent sense; and I really applaud her efforts. I don't know about anyone else, but having been in too many impoverished countries over the years, it was Cambodia that really got its hooks into me. I've never seen so many people whose inner spirit seemed to belie the circumstances in which they lived, and it just broke my heart. My efforts when I got back was in the area of landmine clearing, as that seemed so essential to allow people back into the villages and fields, so there are many ways to help.
I too saw the Frontline piece, and signed up to loan $$ to two women through Kiva. That would certainly offer you a direct way to relate to an individual.
We are still weighing our options for travel in January, but if we go to Siem Reap I know we'll earmark time for some form of volunteer/network making effort. Good luck making your decision on what to do.
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Old Nov 19th, 2006, 04:48 PM
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I would recommend ECPAT (http://www.ecpatcambodia.org/). Since the exploitation of children in Cambodia (and SE Asia in general) is a big problem, it's another way to help. They do many things including working with local police, public awareness campaigns, and assistance to children recovering from abuse.
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Old Nov 21st, 2006, 12:07 PM
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The word is slowly getting out there - I see ponheary's name and the plf popping up on the lonely planet board more and more often recently.

A couple of my friends are sponsoring, or have pledged to sponsor children/teens for secondary school and unversity when they are old enough at Aki Ra's - details are on his website.
Meanwhile, I'm off to perfect my hole filling skills Lori!
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Old Nov 21st, 2006, 12:24 PM
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Not to take anything at all away from any of these organizations, but another way to help these kids, from a health standpoint is to donate money to the Angkor Hospital for Children in Siem Reap. You can go to www.fwab.org which will link you to an excellent website about the hospital itself and will tell you how you can donate money to this very worthwhile cause. I am stunned to learn what I've been learning about medical care in Cambodia- few hospitals, few resources, no insurance, not much of anything despite the good and very hard work of the local medical personnel. Literacy is very important and so is the health of these children. YOu can't go wrong by helping either!
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Old Nov 21st, 2006, 02:27 PM
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haha AIR

It's fun to eventually put donor's names together with their screen names. I know who you are now!~

And by the way, as soon as I saw this post about all the sinkholes appearing around Siem Reap, I thought about you and your shovel!

http://www.fodors.com/forums/threads...7&tid=34902763

veracity-- all the organizations mentioned here are good ones. The children's hospital is particularly critical. Every time I've been by there, families are camping out on the lawn in front waiting to get seen. They have come from near and far. The hospital performs miracles every day.

Kids gotta be well before they can learn anything!

Lori
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Old Nov 21st, 2006, 04:19 PM
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FWOB donates 79% of it's money and uses the rest for adminstration/fundraising. That's pretty good given Charity Navigator's guidelines.

However, theplf is 100%
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Old Nov 27th, 2006, 10:35 AM
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The SHaring FOundation is a wonderful program that is US based and all of the money goes to the kids. THe board is made up largely of parents who adopted from SF before the US instituted its harsh policy of basically banning Cambodian adoptions.
My dear friends adopted a wonderful child from them and I try to donate money each year. They also benefit from car donations. Here is the link www.sharingfoundation.org
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Old Nov 27th, 2006, 04:29 PM
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Having met Ponheary and spent 3 days with her, I can absolutely attest to her integrity and commitment to help the children of Cambodia.

There is also another wonderful organization called Tabitha, which was founded in 1994 by a woman named Janne Ritskes.

Tabitha is a private, not-for-profit NGO that Janne created after she became disillusioned with mainstream NGO's operating in Cambodia. She is originally from Canada, but now has Cambodian citizenship. For more info, go to:

http://www.tabithasingapore.com
http://www.tabithausa.org

Tabitha also has websites in the UK and Australia.

Here is their mission statement....
"Since 1994 Tabitha has worked with over 300,000 Cambodian people in the poorest communities in the country. Tabitha's philosophy of self-help is designed to promote self sufficiency and dignity through savings, counseling, and goal setting programs. Families typically graduate from Tabitha in 5 - 7 years after which they have food for their children, clean water to drink, shelter and a source of income. More importantly, they have achieved a sense of dignity and with their heads held high can now look into the future and see hope for their families."

We became familiar with Tabitha here because they maintain a shop at the Singapore American School and many of our students have raised money to dig wells or buy piglets (see the website for explanation).
My 14 year old daughter is going on one of the homebuilding trips in May, along with a group of other students, parents and teachers. My daughter met Janne when she visited SAS several years ago and Janne made such an impression on her, she has been waiting eagerly to be old enough to go on this trip. I am sure what she will learn on this mission will stay with her for life.

Please note that while this is a Christian organization, it does NOT include religion in its mission and does not try to convert the people it helps. (I mention this not to start an argument on this board, but because many people, myself included, believe that assistance to those that need it, should not come at the price of having to accept someone else's religious practices. In fact, we are Jewish, and support Tabitha because it's an excellent organization.)
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Old Feb 6th, 2007, 04:07 AM
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Hi Veracity,

My family and I just returned from a trip to Cambodia (which we loved). We visited an orphanage in Siem Reap, the Sunrise Children's Villages(there is also one in Phnom Penh). These villages are run by an Australian women, Geraldine Cox, who, we were told by the manager of our hotel Raffles, is one of the most trustworthy and uncorrupt people in Cambodia. We had a tour of the orphanage and were lucky enough to meet Geraldine. We, too, being Australian, felt a closeness with this woman and were amazed at her kindness and caring for these kids. She informed us that 90% of funds went directly to the kids needs. We made a large donation and she was delighted. She thought our donation would pay for new playground equipment for the kids. Our kids (11 & 7) were very moved by this experience and we were honoured to meet this amazing women.

The website is www.sunrisechildrensvillage.org

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Old Feb 7th, 2007, 11:50 PM
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Dear Veracity, my husband and I have been volunteering in Cambodia for several years and it is our greatest joy. We are in a program that builds simple housing for the poorest of the poor, mainly in rural areas. It is a self help program that encourages self respect and self determination. No particular skills are required, just a willing hand and an open heart. The organisation is known as the Tabitha Foundation and is non sectarian. Look it up on the internet - you can't go wrong.
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Old Feb 9th, 2007, 04:34 PM
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We stayed at the Shinta Mani and decided to sponsor one of its sutdents:a young divorced mother. With a donation of $200 or thereabouts, we we offered in return, massages for both of us (an hour each..and sowelcome) which we parlayed from an extra night;s lodging gratis (res. to fly out the next day and we were not fleixble.) Also,do you have a guide? From this site,we hired a young man who was fabulousaroun. (recently invited to his January ' 07 wedding where in he declinded a cash gift...but as mydaughter is returning there this summer, we will honor his wedding with cash then. bring schoolsupplies to hand out to thekids inthe villages and the ones who are begging....muchbetter than cash bec. their parents only want thecash. Also, we always took leftovers home with us from meals and gave them to the first kid who approached us.
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Old Feb 9th, 2007, 06:14 PM
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My family and I donated thru Poheary and are very happy we did. Every cent goes to the schools and children. But the suggestion about leftover food is something we all should do. I was introduced to this in Peru and would never have thought of it myself, but it is so appropriate. Even the leftover bottled water was "gifted". All the food from restaurants we do not eat is very welcome to people on the streets. I even do it (not always) in NYC. At first it seems uncomfortable, but it is not to people who are homeless, begging, etc. In addition, all the extra toiletries from the hotels are also very welcome.
We who are so fortunate and have so much lose perspective on the rest of the world. One the other hand, guides (IMHO)would like cash rather than a baseball hat from your hometown.
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