Awareness Cambodia

Awareness Cambodia

Awareness Cambodia is a non-profit incorporated charity organisation pioneered by Perth dentist Dr Gary Hewett in 1995. What began as one man's vision for change has since long outgrown its humble origins. Awareness Cambodia's vision is now shared by over 40 staff overseeing 80 once-orphaned Khmer children, now family members of the inaugural Sunshine House.

Mission Statement : "People with Christian values empowering people in Cambodia through education, health and the establishment of infrastructure".

History

In 1995, Dr Gary Hewett and Dr Neil Hewett, a medical doctor, volunteered their services for a 2 week medical mission along the Mekong River in Cambodia. During this trip Gary was moved by the tragedy and need in the nation, and hence founded Awareness Cambodia.

The original mission of Awareness Cambodia was to establish medical support teams to assist the nation's struggling health system. From 1996 onwards, short term teams would visit on a regular basis. However, in 2000, a team member reported on the numerous children orphaned as a result of AIDS. They explained that often the child was left to live on the streets because their extended family's feared contracting AIDS, and hence wouldn't care for them. At this time, 50% of the Khmer population were 25 years of age and under, making this a significant problem. This led to the establishment of Sunshine House.

Why Cambodia?

Cambodia is recovering from 4 years of civil war, in which Pol Pot became ruler and Prime Minister of, then called, "Democratic Kampuchea" from 1976-1979. This regime resulted in the loss of 25% of the nation's entire population.

For more than a decade, Cambodia has been hit by the HIV pandemic. Some estimate 30,000 new orphans are produced every year. These children are often left without parents, adequate food,shelter, clothing, health care, education or finances.

Organisational Structure

Awareness Cambodia's International headquarters are located in Perth, Western Australia. From this office sponsorship is overseen, as well as fundraising and the day to day running of the organisation.

In Phnom Penh, a second office is located as a base of operations. The Cambodian National Director, Administrator and Liaison Officer reside in Phnom Penh while the Sunshine House and House of Progress Coordinators are situated in Kompng Speu. The expatriate staff work with indigenous Khmer and with other community organisations in delivering aid to priority areas. All local aid workers are fluent in Khmer.

How is Awareness Cambodia Funded?

Awareness Cambodia activities are primarily funded from donations and are maintained through the support of volunteers. Due to the voluntary nature of Awareness Cambodia's ex-patriate staff, 95% of the monies donated will go directly to on-the-ground programmes.

The hallmark of Awareness Cambodia’s work is one-to-one child sponsorship. The childsponsorship program supports Sunshine House and House of Progress. 100% of money donated to child sponsorship contributes directly to the running of these projects.

Awareness Cambodia also relies on donations as a secondary source of funds. Groups and businesses have funded numerous building programs at Sunshine House and continue to get behind Awareness Cambodia's other project initiatives.

Sunshine House

Sunshine House is a project of Awareness Cambodia. In 2000, land was purchased in Kampong Speu, and the first buildings were erected to make a home for children orphaned due to the ravages of AIDS.

Sunshine House is essentially complete and encompasses about 20 buildings, including a multifunction building where English, music, sewing and Khmer dance are taught.

In June 2002 a fully functional Eco Farm was developed adjacent to Sunshine House. All facets of the farm are aimed at being environmentally friendly, recyclable and self-sustaining. In time it is also planned as an income source for Sunshine House.

Medium Term Vision

Over the next 5 years Awareness Cambodia is looking to transform Sunshine House from its current “small village” status into a larger community called “The Awareness Cambodia Community” in Kampong Speu.

Recently commenced projects include:
* House of Progress for young adults.
* Operation Nightingale - A Medical Clinic offering educational materials, pharmaceuticals and very low cost medical access for the 6 villages surrounding Kompong Speu town.Other projects planned in the coming few years include:
* Pilot medical day clinic and development of Kompong Speu Internet Cafe.

Individual projects within the community such as Sunshine House retain their name, but now form part of the larger umbrella development, known as “The Awareness Cambodia Community”. Awareness Cambodia has also stated that priority will be given to expanding their environmentally friendly approach in all existing projects through initiatives such as solar power, methane collection, and sustainable water use.

External links

* [http://www.awarecam.org.au/ Official Website of Awareness Cambodia Inc.]
* [http://bennysthe1.com/Cambodia/ Sunshine House Impact Team]


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