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August 30, 2013

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August 30, 2013

I visited CCF in August 2013. I am a former child protection worker in Australia and a current sponsor for a family through CCF. While the Facebook posts from CCF and Scott provide a snapshot of the wonderful work they do, a visit allowed me to see the grand scale of the work. I met wonderful CCF staff who were incredibly kind and generous with their time. I was also privileged to have some of the older children take me on a tour of one of the facilities and explain the impact CCF has had on their lives. The CCF facilities are absolutely joyous places, difficult to describe other than that you are surrounded by hundreds of smiling faces and you leave with no doubt whatsoever that the kids are loved, they know it and they are in a very good place. I was always impressed with CCF but after my visit its hard not to sound too much like a zealot as it was just such a wonderful experience. Thank you to everyone at CCF and keep up your wonderful work! Tess

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If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...

I would change nothing. CCF knows exactly what it's doing and is constantly responding to the needs of the children.

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How does this organization compare with others in the same sector?

Very Well

How much of an impact do you think this organization has?

Life-changing

Will you recommend this organization to others?

Definitely

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2013

March 22, 2013
2 people found this review helpful

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Review from CharityNavigator
March 22, 2013
2 people found this review helpful

My husband and 2 sons (ages 15 and 18) recently visited CCF as part of an 8 month trip around the world. Following is my blogpost which highlights how the experience literally changed our lives.

Our definition of poverty became personal when we started our 72 hour immersion into the
operations of Cambodian Children's Fund (CCF) http://www.cambodianchildrensfund.org/, a not-for-profit organization that was started 8 years ago by a man named Scott Neeson who, after seeing the slums of Phnom Penh, couldn't turn away from the children whose lives revolved around picking through garbage dumps to earn money for food. He traded in his millionaire lifestyle, yacht and Porsche and moved from Australia to help educate and provide health care to this forgotten and overlooked community. By offering rice in exchange for a child's daily attendance and providing the full complement of community services, CCF is changing the lives 1500 children and their families. Even toddlers who are in abusive homes can find a safe haven for the day while "earning" their family a daily portion of rice.

Our visit started with a tour of the community center and nursery. It was as if we were coated in honey and the children were bees. At one point James was carrying 3 children with one climbing up his back and 2 more grabbing each leg. Brian and his camera were a hub of activity and even Dom found himself picking up one child after the next, melting at their big brown eyes and cringing as Scott gave brief summaries of their family situation. These kids are starved for attention and affection; they just want to be held. We basked in the love they wanted to share and took comfort in CCF's support systems such as the "Granny network", health center, free maternity clinic, soup kitchen and counseling services.

We learned that many of the families served by CCF have no choice but to send their kids out to the dumps to scavenge for anything that can be monetized. Many are the victims of loan sharks who fund family health care when someone gets sick at up to 20% interest per month. The math is easy to understand. You sell everything you own to care for a sick parent or child; you then go into debt for $500; interest charges alone are $100 per month and each family member can make only about $2/day. They understand that education is their ticket out, but even the free public schools come at a price. Teachers are so underpaid that they require a "tip" of 50cents/day for a child to sit in the classroom. Test papers cost $2 and if you pay for "extra tutoring", you can get the test questions a day in advance!

Leaving the community center we went on to visit a few of the original CCF'S installations which are now residential centers which provide educational classes (such as English, Computer Training, cooking and life skills) to supplement the public school teachings, as well as provide housing for those children who are orphaned or from abusive homes. Needless to say, Brian and James were rock stars walking into the all girls facility, with a very attentive fan club. Everyone's highlight was when they played an impromptu basketball game with the girls who averaged at least a foot and a half less in height! No one would believe that this group of young ladies had lived through the unfathonable traumas that they have experienced. CCF has helped them find their voice, given them self confidence, made them search for their purpose, and nurtured the compassion they bring to their peers and visitors alike.

But our immersion in reality didn't hit home until we accompanied Scott on his nightly walk through the "villages". Every night between 5:30 and 8pm Scott visits families of CCF's students addressing any problems or concerns, identifying new children who could benefit from the CCF umbrella, and handing out portrait photos to his students. Combining his passion for photography with his belief that every child needs a memory of where they came from to stay grounded in where they are going, these precious photos are proudly displayed on the walls of the shacks that we entered. "Homes" constructed out of scraps of metal and wood that are half the size of my dressing room and house 11 people. Neither our visit to Rio's favelas or our witnessing of poverty on the streets of India could prepare us for the emotions surging through us as we navigated through rubbish, mud and piles of garbage - only to again be surrounded by curious children, gracious adults, and familiar faces from earlier in the day. They are grateful for any recognition or assistance.

Walking through the slums, James befriended a 10 year old boy, Sokhim, who was clutching a picture of himself after winning 2 awards at CCF - most improved student and best student in the class. The picture was given to him 2 weeks prior and he was still carrying it, as Scott explained, as it is the only thing he can call his own. Sokhim held tightly to James' hand and practiced his English vocabulary as James' heart opened wide, wanting to encourage and protect the most fragile soul any of us had ever met. It was clear at dinner that night that James had already made his own commitment to helping mentor this child.

The next day and a half were spent speaking English to different age groups of students, participating in their cooking and painting classes, playing more basketball, watching a karate class (for which CCF has won a number team championships), and visiting the two vocational training sites for older students - the bakery and garment sewing facilities. James had already decided that he wanted to sponsor Sokhim and we as a family felt we wanted to sponsor one of the girls at the first residential facility we visited. We asked Scott to identify a few of the older candidates whose sponsorship had lapsed for whatever reason. We thought it would be easier to communicate with an older girl and many sponsors are typically drawn to the younger kids. He showed us pictures of 2 girls, Chantrea age 15 and Many age 17, and gave us a brief background. How could we pick? Dom turned to me and said, pretend you are shopping; pick both. Sponsorship means that we agree to essentially become pen pals with the student, providing a stable, English speaking adult presence in their lives. They ask that we write an email at least once a month to each and pay $100/month for the student's meals, uniform, healthcare, and educational programs.

We are now the proud sponsors of 3 Cambodian children and already they have made such a positive impact on our family. Our visit ended with all of us meeting for the first time, exchanging a few questions & answers, me crying, and lots of hugs and pictures. It has now been a week since we left and we have already exchanged our first emails with the girls. Sokhim's will take a little longer since his have to go through the translator. My heart noticeably beat louder as I read their first stories and questions, and I felt so alive crafting my response and thinking of future stories to share. I am so grateful that Melissa Bradley, founder of our travel consultant company Indagare, connected us with Scott and CCF. It is a charity that delivers more than it promises.

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When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2013

March 16, 2013
1 person found this review helpful

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Review from CharityNavigator
March 16, 2013
1 person found this review helpful

I visited CCF at Phnom Penh in February 2013 and felt privileged to witness first hand the incredible life-changing work that Scott and his team are doing on the ground there. I visited the community centre and went on a walk with Scott and some of the older children who are being trained to help out the communities they came from. We visited some of the poorest and most disadvantaged areas that are benefitting directly from CCF's work through purpose built schools in the communities, and CCF's high daily presence on the ground. It was inspiration to see the difference that was being made to these children and their families by Scott and his team, and also to witness their passion and dedication to trying to help the people in these communities become self sufficient and make a better life for themselves. As a photojournalist I was extremely moved by what is undoubtably life-changing work taking place here. So much so, that I have decided to help out however I can through donating or sponsoring.

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Will you volunteer or donate to this organization?

Likely

How much of an impact do you think this organization has?

Life-changing

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2013

March 15, 2013

I have just finished training the CCF's new Child Protection Unit with a colleague. This ambitious project is producing Cambodia's first focused child abuse investigation team incorporating selected CCF staff and cambodian police officers with the aim of investigating offences, prosecuting the offenders, and safeguarding the children. The enthusiasm and drive of Scott and his team has driven this project forward with a view to having an investigation capacity for the whole country not just Phnom Penh. The work of the CCF is truly life changing for the children. The destitution, indescribable poverty, and the abusive environment I witnessed during a walk in one of the slums with Scott is hard to describe. To see the sheer joy, happiness, and delight in life in the eyes and behavior of the children I met at the CCF schools and community centre brought home the effect CCF has in their lives and the community around them.

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Will you volunteer or donate to this organization beyond what is required of advisors?

Definitely

How much of an impact do you think this organization has?

Life-changing

Will you tell others about this organization?

Definitely

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2013

March 6, 2013

My husband and I and three of our friends have just returned from an awe inspiring trip to
CCF . It has been a couple of years since we have been to Phnom Penh and toured the facilities at CCF and all of us were absolutely blown away by what Scott is doing and what he has accomplished since
our last visit . From the moment you set foot in any of CCF's facilities, you are taken by the feeling of joy, energy and health that comes from the children. Scott has taken the most impoverished, malnourished, uneducated and uncared for children and turned them into happy, healthy, eager to learn leaders of Cambodia. Not only is he helping the children, but also the community at large, through his health services and water programs . This is a man who has put together an amazing staff and programs to serve the poorest of the poor in Cambodia , and his success rate is remarkable.
We are honored to know Scott and support him, and we are proud to sing his praises whenever and wherever we can.

Thank you .

Muffy DiSabatino

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Will you volunteer or donate to this organization beyond what is required of board members?

Definitely

How much of an impact do you think this organization has?

Life-changing

Will you tell others about this organization?

Definitely

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2013

March 5, 2013

My family and I recently spent three days with Scott, Patrick and team visiting the CCF school, bakery, garment training center and the community center and was overwhelmed with the difference that CCF is making in so many children's lives. The energy of the staff is amazing. The difference between the kids being helped by CCF and those that are still picking garbage is so severe. It would be fantastic if all the kids of the area had the same opportunity. We saw moms and kids waiting days outside one of the schools waiting for Scott to visit the school to try and attend. Walking the slums with Scott and seeing the indescribable conditions that these children live in is astounding. At the end of the trip our family sponsored three children and plan to donate additional money for such a worthwhile cause.

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Was your donation impactful?

Definitely

How likely is it that you would recommend that a friend donate to this group?

Definitely

How likely are you to donate to this group again?

Definitely

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2013

March 4, 2013

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March 4, 2013

I have also visited Cambodian Children's Fund facilities on several occasions, met with staff and our sponsored children. It is an uplifting experience. They are working for a future for the children, not merely meeting their short term needs. That means that they also support the community in which these children live now and will become important members in the future.
CCF changes lives for the better not only of those people it directly supports but countless more who are and will be downstream from them. It deserves support!

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Would you volunteer for this group again?

Definitely

For the time you spent, how much of an impact did you feel your work or activity had?

Life-changing

Did the organization use your time wisely?

Very Well

Would you recommend this group to a friend?

Definitely

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2012

March 2, 2013
3 people found this review helpful

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Review from CharityNavigator
March 2, 2013
3 people found this review helpful

I visited CCF in February 2012 and felt deeply privileged to witness the life-changing work of Scott and his staff first hand. They are out there on the ground, directly interacting with the community, and the passion and dedication of the CCF staff to the children of Stung Meanchey, as well as the children's families was Inspirational. For me, the results were obvious in the form of older students who were already self-organizing to help other poor communities. This is a charity where the beneficiaries are encouraged to become self sufficient. If you are looking to support a charity that will make a real difference in a severely disadvantaged and impoverished community, then look no further than CCF where you can rest assured your money will go to tackling poverty at the coal face.

More feedback...

Will you volunteer or donate to this organization?

Definitely

How much of an impact do you think this organization has?

Life-changing

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2013

February 6, 2013

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February 6, 2013

I have now had the opportunity to visit CCF twice in the past few years, and each time it seems more beautiful and inspiring. The children there truly lift your soul. They have created such a safe haven for these Cambodian children, you can feel the "light" that resides there in all of CCF centers. My 12 year old son and I were able to visit the sweet little girl we have sponsored for the past year, and it was pure joy. She is so adorable and it was so fun to get to know her and her friends a little better. The programs at CCF are incredible and I know they are changing each of these children's life for the better. Thank you for letting me be a part of something so amazing.

More feedback...

Would you volunteer for this group again?

Definitely

For the time you spent, how much of an impact did you feel your work or activity had?

A lot

Did the organization use your time wisely?

Very Well

Would you recommend this group to a friend?

Definitely

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2013

February 6, 2013

I traveled to Phnom Penh and CCF every January to see how Scott and his team utilize funds that I raise for them in the USA. This past January was my 4th visit. I continue to be in awe and amazed at the work that Scott and his team do. Not for just the kids, which are always the main focus but for the families and the community. I have watched this organization grow from 100 children to 1,400 and I have always believed that the majority of these kids would not be alive today if it weren't for Scott and his team. Long term these kids will help rebuild Cambodia and I have no doubt they will lead lives of compassion and good works. PLEASE help Scott and his team. Know that the set of circumstances that these children have against them is amongst the worst in the world and Scott has set up an organization that is focused on a comprehensive solution to the problems, that works!!!!!!

More feedback...

Was your donation impactful?

Definitely

How likely is it that you would recommend that a friend donate to this group?

Definitely

How likely are you to donate to this group again?

Definitely

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2013

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