Queenstown reaches out to Cambodia

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Money being donated to a Queenstown fundraiser for poverty-stricken Cambodia is already achieving results. 

Queenstowner Will Oswald decided to organise an event – at the Searle Lane and Social restaurant/bar next Thursday – to support an orphanage and nearby school that his partner Vanessa Harwood is volunteering at, sited 6km from the Cambodian capital of Phnom Penh. 

“We’ve had some extremely generous donations so far which we’re stoked with,” Oswald says,
Harwood reports the money’s being spent building a boys’ bedroom at the 18-child orphanage plus a classroom and shelter at the 190-person school. 

Both facilities are run by the Save Poor Children of Asia Organisation, whose director Sath Samith was orphaned during the brutal Khmer Rouge regime in the 1970s. 

Harwood, who’s been there since early July, says: “My reasons for choosing Cambodia for my volunteer work are due to the country’s turbulent history and high level of poverty. 

“More than 33 per cent of the population is under 15 and the reality is that so many children are put to work on the streets to support their families at the expense of their education.” 

Harwood lives at the orphanage, spending “qual­­­­ity time with the kids”, and also teaches English at the charity’s school. 

“The kids here are incredible – I’ve never met children with such an eagerness to learn and such gratefulness for what I can offer them. 

“The most important thing that we can donate money towards is general living costs for the centre – we have 18 kids living here who all need food, clothing, medical care and education,” she says. 

“Other items that I’ve identified a need for are bicycles so the kids can ride to school, hygiene products like toothbrushes, writing books, pens and reading books to fill the new library.” 

Oswald says he’s close to selling out next Thursday’s function, which includes a silent auction and dinner – $20 of the $35 ticket price will go to the charity. 

However he’s also happy to take donations separately. 

Oswald will take items over himself when he heads to Cambodia on September 21.