Reconcilin​g the Cambodian experience in the saddest of weeks….

Hanging heavily in the air this week is the feeling that the whole world is somehow struggling to come to terms with the unfathomable tragedy that is Sandy Hook and its shocking loss of life including that of 20 innocent little children.

As a mother myself, my own heart is aching for these lost babies, many whose only fault was being in the wrong place at the wrong time.


Moreover, how deeply disturbing is it that it has taken a tragedy of this magnitude for the world to actually give loud voice and focus to what in reality should be self evident: the preciousness and importance that is the life of each and every child in this universe.

As a mother of seven I think I would have found the misery of Sandy Hook near impossible to bear this past week were it not for the good fortune of having only just returned to Perth and home, from the incredible, life changing and uplifting experience of time spent with the child beneficiaries of Scott Neesam and his Cambodian Children’s Fund.

I learned so much from these beautiful happy young souls. This includes experiencing the life affirming power of realizing you’ve been with hundreds of children whose lives are not only being transformed through association with CCF, but literally have been saved, and bright futures created through the vision and energies of just one man. 

It is humbling to contemplate that in less than eight years, Australian-born Scott and his foundation have rescued more than 1300 Cambodian souls from their almost sure fate as children of the Phnom Penh slums: that of life scavenging on the stinking tips of Steyne Meechy simply to survive. Seeing these children, today receiving an education and assistance that may include food, accommodation and income support for parents that allows many to actually attend school, is both heartwarming and uplifting. In one of the poorest countries on earth, some if its poorest inhabitants are being provided with a future and new life few would ever have dreamed of, much less experienced were it not for Scott Neesham’s singularly stunning efforts and enterprise.


In a world which this week must sadly acknowledge its utter powerlessness in restoring those 20 beautiful lives now lost forever at Sandy Hook, equally I believe we can give honor and added meaning to each and every one of these little lives when we step forward to save another child’s life. This includes helping Cambodian children through the good work of CCF. It was impossible to walk away from exposure to the child beneficiaries of the Cambodian Children’s Fund without being struck by the thought that each child coming into Scott’s program is actually being given back a life: from barely surviving, today there is a large corpus of children who are actually thriving. Equipped with an education including leadership and vocational training, CCF is also working child by child to create the leader’s of tomorrow’s Cambodia. It won’t happen today or any time soon, but at CCF at least there is hope in the future. And as we well know, it is hope that helps hold us through the darkest of days. This includes these sad, sorrowful days as a confused world farewells those victims of Sandy Hook especially its 20 child victims.

I am eternally thankful for my Cambodian experience and the perspective it has provided, and I believe too, better enabled me to endure the horrible news that just keeps flowing from this saddest of weeks. It’s also why I Intend to keep making my own meaningful contribution to CCF ongoing into the future.

Contributed by Elizabeth/Wiggy Saunders


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