SENSING NEED: Trish Simpson, with her daughter Torrey, bottom right, and Torrey's friend Luka, back row, with children at the original Cambodian orphanage that inspired them to set up a happy home for some of the children, and consequently, a charity.
SENSING NEED: Trish Simpson, with her daughter Torrey, bottom right, and Torrey's friend Luka, back row, with children at the original Cambodian orphanage that inspired them to set up a happy home for some of the children, and consequently, a charity.

Holiday switch leads to Coast-Cambodian charity

WHEN Trish Simpson decided to do something a bit more useful with a week's holiday than fly to Singapore, she had no idea she would be setting up a charity six months later.

Ms Simpson, of Sunrise Beach, has applied to register Happy Hub Kampot, a charity to help provide a better life for children and their villages in Cambodia.

She and her daughter, Torrey, 17, became involved after travelling to Cambodia in February with Torrey's friend, Luka, 15, to stay and help out an an orphanage.

"I was going to go to Singapore for a week and then I thought that's a bit boring,” she said.

Concerned about the children's living conditions, Ms Simpson and another visitor, Alecia Damico, confronted the orphanage director about its financial affairs but were dissatisfied with the answers, of lack of them.

With the help of the orphanage manager, they obtained permission from the families of five of the children to relocate five of them to another house.

The kids from the Happy Hub Kampot home with the manager's wife  and their baby (second and far right).
The kids from the Happy Hub Kampot home with the manager's wife and their baby (second and far right).

The house, which is now a happy haven for seven children, is being supervised by the former orphanage manager and Ms Damico, supported by Ms Simpson and her daughter from Australia.

"There's seven kids that Alecia has custody of. She's raising them and we try to have it so the parents can be involved with the kids,” Ms Simpson said.

"We've enrolled them in a little private school which costs $1000 every four months for seven kids. They're getting a really good education and their thriving. They play soccer and they're getting As.”

Ms Simpson said a lot of the parents put their children in orphanages because of poverty so they are also working to help villages improve their incomes by encouraging them to grow crops such as sugarcane and moringa.

They have helped establish for wells in a village to help with farming although another six, at a cost of $150 each, are needed.

Happy Hub Kampot's farming project.
Happy Hub Kampot's farming project.

Ms Simpson said charity status would allow Happy Hut Kampot to fundraise and it would become more attractive to donors once donations were tax deductible.

"At the moment, it's Alecia and I paying for everything, and as you can imagine, it's a bit of a financial stretch,” she said.

"We need to start a charity so at least we can start doing some fundraising to get it going, because the more villages we can get through to to earn and have a safe and secure income, then the less they'll have to send their children to orphanages.”

Alecia Damico and Happy Hub Kampot house manager Bora in Kampot.
Alecia Damico and Happy Hub Kampot house manager Bora in Kampot.

Ms Simpson said Happy Hub Kampot would team with Project Cambodia, another Coast charity, to help each other with expertise and fundraising where possible.

"If we team up, the more we can do to help each other,” she said.

Ms Simpson said besides financial support, Happy Hut Kampot could use people with agricultural expertise who might be willing to help the Cambodians improve their farming.

To help out, go to happyhutkampot.com.au.


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