Monday, April 30, 2007

CamKids : SCC

CamKids is a newly-launched charity, based in the UK. Mark Purser is the Chairman of CamKids, or its full title, The Cambodian Children’s Charity. Mark and his wife are parents of a 5 year old girl, who they adopted from Cambodia two years ago and, together with a couple of other Cambodian adoptive families and a number of supporters, they decided to form the charity last year. Its official launch took place in London last month. They have been supporting children’s projects in Cambodia for a number of years and decided to formalise their work and to increase their activities. CamKids mainly support educational and medical projects, as well as relief work, in rural areas in Cambodia. Last year, they built a small medical centre at a rural orphanage in the village of Kais, in Kompong Speu province, for use by the children and the local community. They also pay for a doctor to attend regularly, as well as the medicines, vaccines and other supplies. At the moment, they're building a kitchen and canteen at the same orphanage and are working on plans for the construction and support of two rural schools, including teacher training, as well as increasing their dental and medical programs. They are non-political and non-religious and they also try to support local businesses and suppliers when carrying out their projects. You can find out more about this fledgling charity at their website and on their blog.

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Regular readers of this blog will know that I've been a supporter of another UK-based charity, Schools for Children of Cambodia (SCC) for a long time now. SCC do a great job in supporting six schools in Siem Reap province with 2000+ pupils in attendance. Their schools provide free education for children from the ages of 4-12 years and also assist the more academically-inclined children to attend the government's secondary school program beyond the age of 12. You'll recall that the popular BBC tv series Casualty were in Cambodia last year and one of its stars, Cathy Shipton, aka Duffy, is also a supporter of SCC and during her stay she met teachers and pupils of their school at Lolei. Cathy also encouraged SCC to apply to the BBC Lifeline Appeal. Read more about SCC here.
Here's a look at Cathy's Cambodia Diary (courtesy of the BBC website):
"I'm asked to go to Cambodia to film a double episode of Casualty to celebrate the 20th anniversary. After a tearful goodbye with my daughter Tallulah, I'm reunited with the motley cast and crew at Heathrow, including Derek Thompson, who I've known for 20 years, Patrick Lau, the director and Jane Hudson, the producer, who I've only recently met. Derek greets my story partner John Bowie, "Hello - you're a hero of mine." John looks shy - good the boys will get on. Stepping off the plane at Phnom Pehn is like walking into a sauna. We all reach for water which becomes a permanent fixture for three weeks. We're thrown into the melee of morning rush-hour traffic. There's no lane discipline and everyone's out for themselves. There are whole families on motorbikes and a heavily pregnant woman riding side-saddle on a scooter, holding a drip up.
Make-up at 5am, shooting in 100 degrees and smothered in insect repellent. Filming in the remote villages is interrupted either by a noisy dogfight or a sudden welcome downpour which has us huddled under umbrellas watching the children laugh and splash in puddles. Everywhere we go we are met with smiles and nothing is too much trouble. The work is hard and the days are long especially for the crew, but there is something about these people that lifts our spirits.
On my days off, I visit two projects dear to my heart. Schools set up by an English Charity, Schools for Children of Cambodia and The Sunrise Childrens Village, an orphanage set up 20 years ago. They show me their classrooms and work and give me a wondrous display of Khmer National Dance. 50% of the population are under 20 - it is great to see so many young people being given hope and a future after such recent devastation in their country.
It's my last day and we're filming in the Central Market - a vast and gorgeous 1930s construction. Life teems around us as we film. I have to argue with Charlie - this causes much amusement and we are soon playing to a huge crowd. Cambodians don't believe in showing emotion. At "cut" we muck around in a fake punch-up - they love it and give us a huge ovation. Cambodia is a beautiful country with gracious, dignified people. I have made many good friends and we keep in touch with email. I hope to get back to teach at one of the schools as a volunteer when my daughter is older. I have only begun to scratch the surface but Cambodia is truly under my skin."

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