The Cambodian community in Bonnyrigg recently held a fundraiser for a children's charity in Cambodia. With COVID-19 restrictions still in place, the committee decided on takeaway sales of traditional Cambodian noodles.
The charity they supported is the Cambodian Children's Fund. It was established by Scott Neeson, an Australian who had a successful career as a film executive in Hollywood. In 2003, he visited Cambodia and saw young children scavenging barefoot in a smouldering garbage dump. Haunted by the contrast with the world he lived in, he resigned and left his old life behind. He moved to Cambodia and set up a charity to provide families and children from destitute communities with food, medical care and the opportunities for an education and a future.
Khmer Community of NSW president Srey Kang first met Neeson when he visited Bonnyrigg in 2019. It brought back memories of her own childhood, when more often than not she went to school hungry.
"Not much has changed in Cambodia for ordinary families since then" she said.
"There is a huge gap now between the rich and the poor and it's getting wider. Too many children work in dirty and unsafe conditions, so their families can survive. How could we not want to help them?"
When the food drive was advertised on social media, orders came in thick and fast from the Cambodian community and their friends and workmates. Working bees were set up and volunteers started making preparations two days beforehand, packing cutlery and labelling takeaway boxes.
A team of 10 cooks, including volunteers from the Cambodian Women's Catering Enterprises, worked together on the Friday to chop ingredients and cook, while another team packed parcels for delivery. Over 500 orders were received, either picked up in person at Bonnyrigg or delivered by the team. After everyone else had left after a day's hard work, the monks who reside at the temple and members of the Cambodian Buddhist Society worked together to clean the grounds.
Sorphy Bun, who is on the committee of the Khmer Community, helped supervise the cooking and said she enjoyed the teamwork involved.
Srey Kang added: "After being isolated for so long, it lifted our spirits working together again, knowing we were helping such a worthy cause."
The community presented a cheque of more than $10,000 to Bob Alexander, a representative of the Cambodian Children's Fund on Saturday, June 27 in a ceremony in Bonnyrigg, with Buddhist monks blessing the donation.
- Details: cambodianchildrensfund.org.