EXTREME MAKEOVER

My little “full service” apartment in Phnom Penh comes complete with daily cleaning (thank goodness), laundry (I love it), air conditioning (critical), internet (can’t live without it) and TV.

I am not a TV person but by the end of a long busy day it’s a great way to take my mind off the numerous great projects and kids and unwind.

I have any number of Cambodian stations with soap operas, Kung Fu movies, game shows, news and more.  I also have Regional HBO Movies and Cinemax. To my amusement they both feature action and genre favorites like Anaconda. Transformers, Masters of the Universe – all in English.

If I were an Arnold Schwarzenegger, Slyvester Stallone, or Dolph Lundgren fan I would be in movie watchers heaven.  But alas my cinema tastes lie elsewhere.

The great thing is that there are two other English stations.  One features every episode of the CSI shows, NCIS and almost any other crime fighting or cop show seen on US TV in the last 5 years.  If I am having a hard time falling asleep an episode of CSI Miami works better than valium.

But the real saving grace is the reality show station.  Thanks goodness it does not include women from New Jersey or the Kardashians but it does feature Master Chief (with a slightly tamed version of the viciously charismatic Gordon Ramsay from Hell’s Kitchen), The Voice with its amazing cast of vocal talent and inarticulate B List judges and a full array of Makeover shows.

Makeover people, makeover houses, makeover apartments, makeover wardrobes –  Simply put if it was a televised as Makeover show I can see it here In Cambodian in a constant stream of reruns 24/7.

But I don’t really need to watch a Makeover show because I work for an organization that is a Master  Makeover Machine.

Kids come in – scraggly, covered in mud and dirt, under nourished, neglected and with the weight of their own survival and the survival of their families on their little shoulders.

And they are gently swept up into CCF makeover magic.

Within minutes (literally) they get showers, new clothes, nutritious meals, a toy or two and a new possibility for life.  Within hours their parents (if they are available) are contacted and introduced to the benefits both financial and health wise that the family will receive if the child enters the CCF Educational program.  There is a respectful discussion which in almost all cases results in the child giving up their life as a scavenger and starting their life as a student.

If the child is homeless or has been abandoned they are instantly surrounded by more love than you can imagine and integrated into one of the CCF living facilities.

Scott has established a “kid scavenger free zone” in the dump community.  Like the Sheriff in a cowboy movie whenever he sees a kid hard at work looking through trash he immediately stops, starts a conversation and offers up CCF and education as an alternative.  The Rule is simple – No Kid Scavengers in Our Town.

And so the transformation begins.  From scavenger to student to scholar to leader.

The attached photos are a perfect example:  Just a couple of weeks ago Scott found this tiny guy struggling against the elements and a load of trash 10 times bigger than him.  His determination and commitment knew no bounds as his family was relying on his success to survive another day.

Fast forward two weeks and he is in school with all the supplies he needs struggling to solve math and language problems.  While his family is receiving rent assistance, rice vouchers and medical assistance to offset the loss of the child as an income earner.

So no need to watch a TV version of Extreme Makeovers as I live in the Land of Makeovers.

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