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.
We have just spent a few days in Phnom Penh visiting the CCF organisation and our two sponsor children, Eang and Bora.
We had a great time getting to know the kids and spending some fun time at Kids World. It was great opportunity to see first hand the huge impact CCF is having on these children.
We were also lucky enough to spend some time with Scott Neeson, the founder of CCF, and tour the new academy and do a village walk. Scott seems to know all the children personally and takes a huge interest in the welfare of the family and the overall community.
The visit really re-inforced our commitment to as donors and help out in whatever ways we can.
Thanks to Scott, Joseph, Cath and all the CCF Team for the great work.
Jacq and Gary McLaren
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.
The newest negative posts all belong to an individual who is running a hate campaign against Cambodian Children's Fund. Great Nonprofits are aware of this and regularly remove the reviews. Unfortunately, this only leads to him posting them again and so they remain at the top of the page.
Cambodian Children's Fund is one among many to be targeted by his blogging and troublemaking. Other organizations have successfully sued for defamation. Others have restraining orders and he has been arrested for harassment.
I have been a donor the the Cambodian Children's Fund for two years now, I have very regular email contact with my sponsor child. He and his siblings have now been repatriated to live with their family, now that their family are in a position to afford to support them - with the help of my donations. CCF keep me regularly updated on his progress and send him messages from me and messages from him to me. I receive cards in the mail and have had little video messages from him and have skyped him in the past. I am also organising to visit him in September and they have been very helpful. I have nothing but good things to say about this charity
I have been sponosring a child through CCF for about 4 months now and it is really wonderful. Being able to skype, exchange emails and photos weekly is really wonderful. CCF really is a great organisation and you feel a direct contact with the child you are sponsoring as you are contacting them directly - it is very powerful and I highly recommend it.
I hope the negative comments below get removed - they are obviously from people who have never visited CCF and seen it for themselves. Seems like someone is trying to slander this great organisation. There are 150 glowing reviews from people who have visited the organisation - and then 3 angry reviews? CCF doesn't take children from their families - I sponsor two children, one lives with their aunty and uncle, and the other lives at CCF but goes home every weekend. I have been a donor for many years, and I have never seen an organisation that works with the kind of compassion and delivers programs that changes lives like CCF does. I will continue to support their work for a long time.
CCF does a great job in providing security, health and education to the poorest kids of Steung Meanchey who would otherwise have few hopes for the future. It is great to be able to donate with confidence, and to visit and see exactly how our money is used to help turn so many lives around.
My family and I, who sponsor five CCF children, have just returned from our second visit to CCF and we are overwhelmed by the care, compassion and responsible governance demonstrated throughout this organisation.
As well as spending precious time with our sponsor children, we had the opportunity to have in-depth discussions with senior staff and to visit some of the newer facilities that we did not see on our previous visit. We witnessed the enormous progress that is being made by CCF in providing an amazing educational and community resource, and we were once again impressed by the diligence with which the CCF philosophy of ethics, duty of care and community engagement is applied throughout the organisation.
Reviews of CCF submitted on August 17 (presumably all by the same person) are factually wrong and seriously misleading. Regarding the comment about James McCabe made by this reviewer, and reference to a newspaper article from 2008, a more recent article from December 2013 provides a fairer perspective - see http://www.theage.com.au/national/james-mccabe-is-on-a-mission-to-protect-abused-cambodian-kids-20131130-2yiyq.html.
Regarding comments about institutionalisation of children, it is salient to note that by far the majority of CCF kids live with their parents, albeit in impoverished conditions. I have visited the homes of some of these families, and seen conditions which are almost impossible to convey in words. It is humbling to see the strength and love within many of these families, despite their dire circumstances . However, as in any community there are also families and children affected by drug addiction, alcohol abuse, sexual abuse, violence and neglect. It is children in such extreme circumstances, whose lives and well-being are at risk, who are accepted for full time care at CCF. There are also children (including one of our sponsor children) whose parents struggle to care for them at home full time and these children live at CCF during the week and return to their families at the weekend and for holidays. There is no doubt at all in my mind that CCF regards family as the core of the community. The organisation works ceaselessly to provide family support in many ways - free maternal care, care for the elderly, free health and medical care, provision of food and clean drinking water, financial assistance with paying off debts, and low-rent secure housing for at-risk families, to mention only some of its outreach activities. Even after our two visits I know that we have only seen a very small part of the work done by CCF to support families and the local community.
CCF far exceeds what I could have imagined possible for an NGO and is built on solid foundations that I am sure will assist Cambodian children and their families for generations to come. Happy to give it five stars.
Last month I had the pleasure of visiting CCF. I was very happy to meet the girl I sponsor. What impressed me about CCF overall was the dedication of the staff who are clearly doing a great job. I got to see the medical surgery that is available free of charge to any member of the local Steung Meanchey community. I also got to see the library and computer facilities available to the kids and learnt about the many outreach programs supporting children and families in the community including the Granny’s program to provide support and dignity to older members of the community who contribute so much to caring for young children. In my opinion CCF is an outstanding organisation.
My family began sponsoring children through CCF about 3 years ago. We started with 3 boys who were all around the same age as my own boys (10 / 8 and 5) then we expanded our Cambodian family about a year ago with the addition of our 14 year old sponsor girl.
In March 2015 we made the trip from Perth to Phnom Penh so we could meet these little wonders who we had been corresponding with for so long. It only took perhaps 10 minutes before my children and our sponsor children became mates. They weren't able to communicate effectively through language but they created their own language. The language of fun! They played for hours at an indoor play centre in Phnom Penh and we all had a lovely meal afterwards with a cake that CCF had organised to celebrate my son's 8th birthday.
The following day we visited one of the CCF community centres. My husband and I were both very emotional and incredibly proud to be associated with this organisation. The facilities that we witnessed in only 1 of the many community centres were exceptional and the much needed health care provided to the people who need it most was comprehensive. Even down to a tap providing fresh water for anyone in the community to access and a playground that children in the area could visit in the evenings to ensure they had a safe place to play. Amazing, amazing, amazing!
Our final visit with our sponsor children was the day we regretfully left Phnom Penh. The children and their chaperone arrived at our hotel for a swim and some lunch. It was Easter Sunday for us so we hid some lollies in the garden and gave each child a basket to collect them. The wonder on their faces I will never forget!
Without a doubt our connection with CCF has been the most rewarding experience of our lives so far. We wish we could sponsor more children and most definitely will visit again in the future.
Scott Neeson and his team have created a magnificent charity.
I have just returned from another trip to visit one of the kids I sponsor at CCF, as with my previous visits this one was really memorable but the thing that stands out this time is the way the whole community gets help and not just the kids.
I visited the World housing project which was fantastic and is helping entire families as well as visiting one of the outreach schools and learnt about the granny program and the subsidised rice scheme. I can't wait for my next trip as I already have an idea of some of the other projects in the pipeline and always look forward to seeing how the entire dump community is being lifted out of poverty by the dedication shown by Scott and his team.
The more I learn about CCF the happier I am to see what my sponsorship money is achieving and would highly recommend that any child sponsors who read this post spend the time to visit their sponsored child and get to learn more about the workings of CCF