From our Australian board member, Roxane, after conducting a monitoring visit to Human and Hope Association yesterday:
“Thank you Sally.
It’s hard to imagine what real poverty looks like or means until you sit in a dusty patch of ground and look into the faces of children whose parents daily income wouldn’t even buy them a cup of coffee in Australia.
I spent the day today at a school in Siem Reap, Cambodia with Sally and Thai (who is actually Cambodian) while we talked about how to raise awareness and money to support the school they run – Human and Hope Association (www.humanandhopeassociation.org)
Real poverty in Cambodia means that most of the HHA children have watched their father punch their mother at some time in their lives, because poverty breeds violence in this place. It means that usually children don’t learn to brush their teeth until they start school. It means that when you ask all the children in the school what they want to be, most of them say they want to be a doctor, because they have seen their families be sick so often. And it means that I can’t take photos or give lollies because child sex abuse is so rife that my innocent gifts or picture taking might set these little people up to be groomed by some perverted, sick, disgusting pedophile.
It’s really hard to raise money for HHA. I’ve only been trying for a few months – Sally has been trying for a few years. I understand why. Most people in Australia are incredibly generous, but we are all constantly targeted for our hard earned cash and most of us can only support a small number of causes that we feel personally engaged with.
And so Sally and I have spent the day trying to think of ways to engage people. How do we encourage people that giving to HHA might be the best way to spend $25 a month, when there are literally millions of other worthy places they could be giving to?
We didn’t come up with any great answers. But in the car on the way to the airport just now, the driver turned to me as I got out of the car and he said to me – ‘thank you for helping my children. Thank you. Most people with money in Cambodia don’t support our children, but you do.’ It made me cry of course, because I tend to cry even during tissue commercials. Of course his thanks is really meant for Sally who spends every single day at HHA, earning next to nothing, battling constant illness and tarantulas in her bed and rats in her kitchen, just so she can help children who don’t have anyone else to support them.
And so I want to say this to Sally – thank you for everything you do. Because when you help children in a place far away from Australia, you remind me that for all the terrorist acts and plane crashes and Clive Palmer and other bloody unjust things in the world, there are people who do kind and good and important things. Don’t give up hope. We’ll get the money we need to give those children a chance at a better life, and it will be ok.”