In this edition of your May news:
Message from the Chair
Hi to all of our supporters,
I’m thrilled to be able to provide you with this latest update from Cambodian Kids Can.
With seven girls moving to Phnom Penh to commence University in late 2016, we have recently welcomed some new girls to Mekhala House, bringing our total number back to 40. We also continue to support one boy, previously living at Mekhala House, who is now under the care of a foster family. The eleven girls we are supporting through university are progressing well.
In very exciting news, the Provincial Governor, His Excellency, Chea Somethy recently presented the girls at Mekhala House with a generous (272, 000 grams!) supply of manna rice which is of high quality and nutritional value. His Excellency also donated a 43 inch digital television. This support from the Cambodian Government is very gratifying.
Mekhala Learning Centre has recently commenced its tenth course in free English, Internet and Computer Studies. Every year, 120 students from disadvantaged backgrounds are able to undertake these 6-month courses, free of charge. It is especially pleasing to note that of the 60 students enrolled in this semester course, 48 are female. So in a small way, CKC is addressing the gender imbalance so prevalent in Cambodia.
I trust this update demonstrates just how much of a difference your support is making.
Thank you for all that you do.
Chair, Cambodian Kids Can Board of Directors
A word from our volunteers: Meet Ka Ling
The first thing that struck me about the girls at Mekhala House was their amazing zest for life. They were full of laughter and chatted with me despite the clear language barrier between us. Charades, gesturing, use of body language and facial expression became part of my day to day communication.
It wasn’t long before I became part of their family, eating three meals a day with them and rotating tables to ensure I spoke to everyone. On day three, a girl scurried into the office and passed me a handmade bouquet of flowers, gave me a shy smile and ran away giggling. Within a week, I was invited to a wedding, but that’s a story for another day.
The girls are extremely hard working, with those in Year 11 and 12 studying six to seven days a week. When I developed a terrible reaction to some insect bites, three girls attended to the bites. When asked what they wanted to be, two girls quietly but confidently said “doctor” and the other “nurse”. In my opinion, they definitely possessed the right attitude, personality and drive for the professions.
The dedication that the girls have demonstrated in contributing to the community is inspiring. What more could we ask for than to educate young women in Cambodia, who in turn become self-sufficient and give back to the community? The girls at Mekhala House have been nurtured in a safe and supportive environment that allows them grow into intelligent young ladies.
My experience in Cambodia was nothing less than extraordinary. I have been asked so many times, “Will you go back again?” My answer: “In a heartbeat.”
A word from our sponsors: Meet Michael Churchill, Group Managing Director, VAA Associates
“Having two young girls myself and hearing about the plight of these young women in Cambodia led me to the question, what if this was my child?
While our organisation has had a long and strong affiliation with Cambodian Kids Can, it was this question that led us to contribute monthly. Donating once a month provides us with reassurance that the girls in Cambodia can have a better life, today and into the future.
We can see that the financial contribution we make each month has a real impact for the girls. Education is a key driver to empowering and facilitating freedom of choice- something that we in the western world often take for granted.
One of our core values at VAA is to provide fresh and disciplined perspectives aimed at sustainable wealth creation. Our support of Cambodian Kids Can is part of this commitment.”
Our recent events:
Being Happiness Fundraiser
After returning from a leadership program in Bhutan in late 2016, Board member, Jenna Davey-Burns was inspired to host a workshop on Gross National Happiness, a completely contrasting system of governance that measures happiness as opposed to Gross Domestic Product. Excitingly, every single dollar from the workshop was donated to Cambodian Kids Can.
The workshop was designed to help participants connect with their inner wisdom through Stories – Connections – Reflections – Meditation and to then think about how they could positively influence the world around them.
With over 40 people in attendance, the workshop was a great way to spread a positive message and make a difference. This was made possible thanks to the support of a number of local businesses including Yoke Yoga studio in South Melbourne, Lola Berry’s Happy Place, Scicluna’s Mentone, Safeway Mentone, Sunset Printing, JD Variety and the Perfect Potion. Thanks to Sophie Weldon from Humankind Enterprises, Laura Hartley from Appleseed and Mariam Issa from Resilient Aspiring Women (RAW) for sharing your incredible stories. Thanks also to Kym Arthur for the guided meditation and to all of our attendees. We look forward to the next one!
Be Bold for Change: International Women’s Day Dinner
Be Bold for Change and help accelerate gender parity was the theme for this year’s International Women’s Day.
And Cambodian Kids Can did just that by bringing together friends of Cambodian Kids Can to enjoy a delicious Cambodian feast and raise funds to empower young women in Cambodia through education. The evening gave us the chance to celebrate the difference Cambodian Kids Can is making in supporting young women to achieve their goals and change their futures.
Thanks to Bopha Devi for the delicious Cambodian feast and to Goodstudio, Proof is in the Pudding, Yoke Yoga, Alex Horwood and Das Automat for your support of the event. Thank you to all of the attendees for joining us.
Chestnut Picking in the Hills
Thank you to Oley and Winifred, for opening up their majestic property in Olinda on Saturday 13th May, for a morning of chestnut picking. Thanks also to everyone who attended to pick, roast and eat chestnuts with us!
Outgoing Director of the Board, Rebecca Dabbs, ran 10km as part of the Melbourne Marathon Festival in October last year and raised an incredible $1, 125 for Cambodian Kids Can. Thanks Bek, for sweating it out in support of our future change makers in Cambodia!
Participating in a fun run or similar? We’d love you to chat to us about raising money for Cambodian Kids Can in the process!
In memory of our supporters:
Vale Marie O’Sullivan
Marie, or Muzz as she was affectionately known to her friends, passed away in January after a dignified battle with lung cancer. Marie was a long term Director of CKC, having been involved at the time of its inception in Prey Veng, Cambodia, back in 2005, and remained a very strong supporter till the very end.
Throughout her life, Marie tackled every challenge with a level of clarity and determination which was inspirational to those around her.
Her contribution to the amazing outcomes being achieved by the students at Mekhala House in Prey Veng cannot be understated. As a Board member, she was always offering to take on tasks herself such as organising wonderful gala dinners, while positively encouraging other directors to follow her standards.
There were numerous occasions during board meetings where Marie was able to identify the essence of an issue and lead the Board in a clear-sighted analysis of the steps required to achieve desired outcomes. With clarity and appropriate influencing skills she refused to allow us to lose focus on the subject at hand after the rest of us had diverged into somewhat unproductive, time-wasting side issues. And many of us benefited enormously from her freely offered personal coaching sessions where she displayed the skills that had obviously served her so well in her highly successfully professional career as an organisational psychologist.
She is survived by her loving husband, Gavin Didsbury, himself a long serving CKC Director, along with a warm and caring family who, like CKC, will forever cherish incredibly fond memories of ‘Muzz’.
Vale Anton Teese
Anton Teese, one of our longest and staunchest supporters passed away in early January after a long battle with cancer. Since 2007, Anton together with his wife, Wylva ran many fundraisers which included dance nights, music nights, garage sales and even a pirate fundraiser for kids. Together they have been an integral part of our grassroots fundraising base from the very early days.
Even at his wake, Anton requested that no flowers be sent and instead that money be donated to Mekhala House in his memory. This generous gesture raised $2,245 which was enough to establish a memorial fund in Anton’s name with the donation going towards supporting one of our girls, Chanry study marketing in her first year of university.
We will miss you Anton Teese – you and your twinkling eyes, your infinite cheer and positive outlook … and your unwavering belief that anyone could do anything as long as they put their mind to it…. you inspired so many people to believe in themselves, which was a precious gift.
Dates for the diary:
Family Winter Dance
Saturday June 3, 5:30pm- 8pm
Queen of Peace Hall, Altona Meadows
Further details to come. All proceeds to Anton Teese memorial fund which was setup to support Chanry, Mekhala House Alumni, through her University studies in Phnom Penh
Each year, as more of the young women leave Mekhala House to pursue higher education, more young girls take their place. While the number of lives we’re changing grows, so too do our funding needs. With a regular tax-deductible donation of $10 or more a month, you can help provide the girls with the nurturing home, formal education and life skills they need to thrive today and into the future. Alternatively, to claim your tax deduction this financial year please make your life-changing one-off gift before June 30.