Volunteering with CCF in early 2015 gave me the chance to see first-hand the amazing work being done by CCF in the Steung Meanchey community. As well as educating and caring for more than 2,200 children, CCF operates a broad spectrum of community services that support the families to keep the kids in school. The staff really do ‘work from the heart’, with an underlying belief that CCF children can be the next generation of Cambodian leaders. It is clear that CCF's work with these kids is truly life changing - breaking the cycle of poverty and providing them with the opportunities they deserve.
When I heard about CCF, their community ethos and focus on empowering children through education, love & care I was instantly hooked!
I'd spent months looking for a voluntary project I felt had a holistic & community focus and found that within CCF.
Actually seeing children's desperate situations within Cambodia, really moved me. Then hearing about Scotts brilliant aim to take children & their families out of such awful poverty assured me that their are really kind people in this world to help overcome misfortunes bestowed on people due to inequality!!
As a volunteer with a lot of experience in child development & an holistic approach I wanted to share insights to compliment within the team, and so I feel it was definitely a worthwhile experience.
volunteering alongside teacher Srey Sor was my highlight as she showed absolute compassion & attentiveness to each child she taught.
Whilst the focus was on teaching them English and maths to enhance their skills, I felt the real lessons were in teachers like Srey Sor promoting a 'you can do it' attitude!!
I liked that local Khmer staff are employed & CCF are looking into even more ways to promote equality & inclusion within Cambodia.
For instance by supporting schools in village areas, so children can remain within family structure whilst getting n education & health needs met.
That's definitely got my five star vote!
I'd just done some volunteering teaching in Thailand with Primary School children and as part of my trip back to the UK, I was visiting Phonm Phenn in Cambodia and had the opportunity to visit CCF and see the amazing work that was being done there.
It was truly inspirational work.
Whilst visiting it was heartbreaking to hear (and see) the desperate conditions that these poor children were growing up in. Their village was based on and around a city dump, a dump that not only contained household rubbish, but toxic and hazardous waste too!, families for a wide variety of often unfortunate and heartbreaking reasons found themselves salvaging a living on this waste site. Children were needed to work in order to earn money to survive - education and going to school for these children was previously not an option.
How amazing that CCF can help these children and families out to not only provide education, health, a future and hope but to give them the opportunity of a happier and more prosperous life.
We heard several hearbreaking stories of children and how they were malnourished, living off the dump with no future and no hope. I heard about a very young boy, who would find dead babies abandoned amongst the rubbish tip and he would take them away from this atrocisity and give them a decent burial.
CCF however has managed to turn many young children's lives around with a good solid education, an excellent and very fluent command in the English language (which will enable them to get a decent job in Cambodia) but I particularly admired the fact that these children are expected to be involved in CCF, become team leaders themselves, help, mentor and be inspirations for the younger children.
When going around the facilities (classrooms, playgrounds, a community area, a place where children were fed and showered and in desperate situations a residential place for children who could not live at home). There was a vibrancy in these areas, a happiness, a willingness to learn, children allowed to be children, and a great sense of optimism.
I didn't visit the really bad areas, but what I saw of where some of these people live and the facilities that CCF provide it made me realise how important CCF are in this community and what a real, positive difference CCF are making.
Please keep up the amazing (literally) life saving work.
In July this year, our family and 12 volunteers from our own not-for-profit charity, Bikes 4 Life, travelled to Phnom Penh to visit CCF for our third year in a row. Bikes 4 Life distribute much needed, refurbished bikes to deserving CCF students, their families and the broader CCF community. Given we have returned three times (and plan to continue to do so each year), speaks volumes as to the calibre of CCF, their programs and the positive impact they are making in the Steung Meanchey community. CCF fully involve their students in all facets of their incredible programs, teaching their young Junior Leaders responsibility and ensuring they are giving back to their own community. The students of CCF genuinely embrace their education opportunities and seem to be very committed to continuing the cycle of eduction. We are also fortunate enough to have the pleasure of sponsoring a child which is the most rewarding experience of our visit.
I had finished working as a volunteer teacher in rural Thailand and wanted to see how other NGOs were helping children in SE Asia. I arranged for a tour of CCF to see the work they were doing and, quite frankly, was amazed. The way CCF find children living in the most dire conditions,meet them into one of its education facilities and give them something approaching a normal childhood is truly astounding.
During my tour of Stueng Mueang, where kids used to live on a toxic rubbish dump, I heard a number of stories from the children CCF had saved.mone young lady described told us her story. She started by saying "she'd been working on the dump since she was a toddler" - working means walking barefoot over broken glass, raw sewage, chemical waste to find something over value who's only dream was to work in a factory one day. CCF took her from this horrible existence, put her into one of its schools and gave her a chance at life. Now she is a confident happy young woman, who speaks fluent English and is a project leader for CCF helping others like her get out of the slums and avoid a likely early death and now is aiming to be a teacher so she can help others.
The thing that impressed me most about CCF is the way it,helps the children develop themselves through education, learn the skills to become independent and become valuable members of the community.
I volunteered at CCF for 3 months earlier this year and have returned for another 2 months now. I am a UK children's social workers and social work manager and have been working with CCF on their child care programme. I have been very impressed by the extent to which CCF are open to external review of and input into their programmes - which is a sign of a well run confident organisation.
CCF provide a wide range of community support services within this very deprived community, including community outreach, housing, medical care, nutritional support (feeding programmes) as well as education. This ensures families are supported to care for their children.
I have met some self confident, outgoing young people who have benefited from CCF's programmes many of whom are now at University or in employment. This would not have happened without CCF.
I volunteered for two months as a buddy teacher this year at CCF. The work that the administration and staff do there is stellar: there is no other word to describe it. The school, medical facility, granny program, child protection program, partnership with Workd Housing, food program... are all headed by a man who should win a Nobel prize for seeing a problem and donating 100% of his life to solving it. Five stars are not enough
CCF do an amazing job to give seriously disadvantaged youngsters the opportunity to offset the disadvantages of their birth and to achieve their full potential. It is not only about opportunity for the individual but the community as a whole and in the long run gives the community the tools to look after itself.
I particularly like the holistic approach of CCF, recognising that it is not only the issue of school opportunity that the kids are missing, but also factors such as the economic role of kids in the family and the quality of housing that need to be addressed in order to achieve CCF's aims.
I have now been volunteering for 2 years for CCF and it is honestly one of the most rewarding experiences of my life. CCF genuinely cares for the kids and their families and assist in making their lives better. They are having a huge impact on the community they provide support for.
The have a holistic approach and a balanced outlook on not just education, but a sustainable approach to the community of Steung Meanchey that helps uplift ethics, welfare, health, education, wellbeing, safety and increasing sustainable living conditions. Community programs intertwine, for example, the students become Junior Leaders in the community and help sustain a Granny Program, helping to promote community, respect and responsibility and care towards each other.
It is incredible to see the transformation from when CCF began until now. I have even seen an incredible transformation since I started volunteering with them in 2014.
It is important that I work with a fund of high integrity and ethics, and I believe CCF to be aligned with this. The organisation stands true to its transparency and accountability.
I feel privileged to have met and taught literally hundreds of CCF students over the last 2 years. I am consistently surprised by the level of genuine joy, respect, integrity and focus these the children have. It is a pure joy to be around and assist them in their growth.
Having heard about the wonderful work that CCF was doing in Steung Meanchey from a close friend and previous volunteer, when an opportunity arose to assist with an IT implementation I was delighted to get involved.
What struck me about this organisation was the efficiency of the services being provided, and the professionalism and dedication of the management and staff. After visiting the schools and interacting with the students, the impact that CCF was having on these young people's lives became clear very quickly.
During a community walk through the Steung Meanchey area, I was somewhat overwhelmed by the living conditions of local families, even after having travelled extensively throughout SE Asia and other parts of Cambodia. But after witnessing the lavish praise from the parents, grandparents and students involved with CCF, it was clear that the community had high hopes for the next generation, and simply would not be where it is today without Scott and his team.
I am eternally thankful for the opportunity to assist such a well-run organisation providing these essential services to the Steung Meanchey community, and to have been inspired by the bright sparks that are the thousands of students involved with the many CCF programs.
It was also such a pleasure to spend time with Scott personally to experience the true meaning of selflessness, and the impact one person can have with an unwavering vision, an amazing team and 12 years of personal dedication.
Yesterday at around 5 pm I had the opportunity to join Scott for his evening “walk about”. This took me to his different schools, housing villages he has bequeathed from sponsors, and deep into one of the many surreal slum communities that still make up the Steang Meanchey commune.
Scott is a close personal friend and the first thing that struck me is that both in his personal life and “professional” life, he is one and the same person. He is true to himself. The walkabout gave me more insight into who he is and what he does.
Most importantly it allowed me to put the whole picture of CCF together, and see that everything that happens at CCF emanates from the soul of these slum communities and the people within.
CCF suddenly was no longer just those happy smiling children’s faces. Scott introduced the heart and essence of his mission by allowing me a window into the soul, the struggles and suffering in a real up close, albeit brief, experience.
The difference was that I would go home after a few hours, while these children and parents would have to live within this squalor, overwhelming poverty and filth day after day, many without an no end in sight.
I felt that you can’t really totally understand CCF and Scott’s motivation until you walk within this environment, as pictures just don’t do it justice.
I want to share with you some of my observations about my friend..
There is a constant intensity with Scott, hat simply doesn’t turn off both in his private time and public. He has an intuitive gift to remarkably remembers every child’s name and can share their story in an instant, many of them being remarkably tragic beyond our western sensibilities. At the same time, he can compartmentalize every project within CCF and is in a constant state of anticipating the future as it relates to the organization’s sustainability.
Scott never stops moving, both physically nor mentally. He is always in a state of fluid motion, finding time to acknowledge every kid that we walk by and within every neighborhood we visit. And when he sees children alone in a slum dwelling, he stops to talk and find out why their parent(s) is not around. He is in a mode of finding solutions, instant outcomes. He has no time for delay and bureaucracy, constantly instructing the two CCF support individuals who join us to follow up on every request however small it might seem such as a young child pleading to him for a coconut as its their birthday or larger and life changing requests involving medical support, enrollment of their child in CCF’s program.
To that effect he is constantly stopped in the street by families and individuals with problems, whether they be sober or strung out on drugs.
Scott is completely hands-on. We walked into areas that are surreal, beyond anything I’ve ever seen, smelled or experienced. Small children walking barefoot on layers upon layers of wet and acrid smelling wet garbage, shacks infested with rats and disease. Scott walks, rather strides, in and has an urgency to face the problem head-on, needing to constantly check up on children, on parents, on his “constituents” ….there was no place that he wouldn’t go despite the potential danger of drug dealers who would rather he not exist.
My friend’s attention deficit disorder serves him well. He has the intuitive genius to be able to make one-on-one contact with hundreds of individuals that we met over this two hour walkabout and has a pick up truck full of coloring books and crayons that he hands out based upon the situational need.
From the exceedingly bright children, to those that have mental disorders, Scott makes sure that no child is left behind and walks and works exhaustively both at CCF and on these walkabouts, his camera on his shoulder, children coming up for hugs, shouts of “papa” and “Scoot” being shouted out from small shacks constantly, and taking his taking photos on request, allowing everyone to gather around and laugh at the results.
The true sense of community and humanity is the one element that shines out through all this within what we would consider a living hell. This sense of one family, and joy that Scott can bring out wherever he walks, a feeling up uplifting, is a reminder to all of us as to what can be accomplished in the name of love. Scott has, quite honestly, harnessed the power of love and spreads that energy, intuitively, in the most effective way he knows how.
Here’s what I conclude. This isn’t about Cambodia, this isn’t about one particular place on the map. It’s about having the confidence and commitment to demonstrate leadership using the power of love. Scott serves as a conduit to those less fortunate individuals who have lived in a cycle of squalor for generations and they respond remarkably to this empowerment and will live better lives for generations to come do to his efforts.
Scott proved to me that we are all from the same family of human beings. That given the opportunity and tools, whatever the color of your skin or country and situation you are born into, anyone can improve their lives.