Trinity students support Cambodian orphans

Trinity students come together to support a common goal.

Twenty years ago, in the wake of the devastation wrought in Cambodia by the Khmer Rouge, a compassionate Cambodian woman, Madam Sakkada, determined to do whatever she could to care for the many widowed women and orphaned children. She had little money, but nevertheless took half a dozen children and a few widows into her home to care for them. This was the beginning of the Unaccompanied Association (UNACAS), a registered Cambodian Non Government Organisation (NGO).

Since its foundation in 1994, around 300–400 children have been given a fresh start in life through UNACAS and are now active members of Cambodian society – each is employed. In 2012, the first student to attend university graduated and is now working for another NGO.

Currently UNACAS is caring for 95 orphaned children and 13 widows are employed as ‘mothers’ to the children. All children are encouraged to stay at school as long as they can and, if possible, complete Year 12 and qualify for university. Fifteen students (all sponsored by oversees donors) are currently studying at university. Trinity College Theological School (TCTS) is glad to be sponsoring a young student, who otherwise could not afford tertiary education.

In January this year, my wife and I led a team of 18 people on an eight-day service project to Phnom Penh, Cambodia. The team, which was totally self-funded, included three Foundation Studies alumni and a TCTS student. Together they worked for five days at UNACAS and two villages near the orphanage. In preparation for the trip, the team raised $12,000 to support the project and the work of UNACAS. Some renovation work was carried out at UNACAS and a hygiene program conducted in the villages and the local primary school. More than 750 children were treated for head lice, taught the importance of personal hygiene and given a toiletries bag containing soap, shampoo, comb, nail brush, toothbrush, toothpaste and nail clippers. Chris also preached at The Holy Church, a local Christian church that ministers to the UNACAS family and is pastored by the UNACAS Director.

Working with another NGO, Tabitha Cambodia, the team also raised $12,500 to build eight simple houses in a poor village in Kandal province and worked with local contractors to help finish building them.

It was wonderful to have Foundation Studies students working alongside TCTS students with a common goal of service to others. It was an enriching experience as we shared with, and learned from, the beautiful Cambodian people we met at UNACAS and in the villages.

A similar service project will be run in January 2014. Please contact Chris Carolane for information on how to become involved.

The Revd Chris Carolane

Image left: Rama Adityadarma (TCFS 2011) teaching a local Cambodian about clipping nails

22 Apr 2013
Category: Learning