Cambodia: Christie Cooper’s firsthand experience visiting sponsorship projects

By Christie Cooper, Channel 7 News Reporter and Child Sponsor

In my life I’ve been fortunate enough to travel far and wide. As I’ve walked past children cheerfully chasing each other around burning piles of rubbish, the poverty has been plain enough to see. But I am often not there long enough to grasp exactly what is causing it. Travelling through Cambodia in March this year was an entirely different experience. This time I was privileged to be among six Australian journalists travelling with World Vision.

Suddenly through World Vision I had access to a team of experts able to explain why things were the way they were and even better, what it might be possible to do about it.


            "It became clear that to make a real difference, we need to take the time to understand the causes of poverty                and help the communities to help themselves."  


So it makes perfect sense that when World Vision starts working in a community, their staff spend at least a year listening to and understanding the needs of the community members.

Over ten days we visited several communities supported by Australian sponsors. In one village in the Kralanh district where World Vision have just started to work, I heard a desperate story. With a starving family and no other choices, the mother I spoke to has already sent two of her daughters to Thailand with a ‘broker’ to illegally search for work. She seemed without hope, unable to imagine a positive future for her family. 


            "In stark contrast to this was another community in Banan district which has been working with World Vision               for close to a decade. The faces I saw there, young and old, were beaming with pride, a sense of achievement                 and so much hope."


Among many initiatives the community have learnt basic business and financial management skills. Through this they have built up an impressive event-hire business – they couldn’t wait to show us.  World Vision has recently started their planned withdrawal from this community. But there is now a generation of leaders, so that this work can continue without them. Reflecting on my earlier experience in Kranlanh, I was struck by what a very real difference Australian sponsors can make in the lives of people across the world.


             "Having been part of a World Vision sponsor family for most of my life, I was startled by how little I had                           understood about what a difference I could make."


In my version you give to the children to meet limited immediate needs. But the happiest, healthiest and most successful children have loving parents who can provide more than just the basics. They can teach them the crucial skills needed to build their own futures.

Sponsors like you and I are vital to this. I came home with a completely new understanding of the challenges faced in countries like Cambodia and what those of us in more privileged positions can do to help.

Interested in visiting your sponsored child? Find out more