A NOOSA woman is turning her run-in with an overseas Cambodian orphanage scammer into positive outcomes for the young Cambodian children caught up in the deception.
And Trish Simpson is not alone, having attracted a local tight-knit support team which aims to make a difference for youngsters in genuine need of help.
"It all started when I went to a sham orphanage in Siem Reap and found how badly the children were living without proper food or health care,” Trish said.
Trish said she and another woman Alecia, who was motivated by the plight of these "orphans” to also visit, confronted the manager and demanded to know where the funds were going.
"It all got a bit dangerous so Alecia had to get out in the middle of the night without her belongings,” Trish said.
"She went to Kampot, where we now rent a property and she has managed to get guardianship over five of the children from that orphanage.
"We now have eight children who live in the Happy Hub house, we don't call it an orphanage because it is a home for the children.”
Trish said it turns out the children have parents, but they have either alcohol or abuse issues and are unable to provide care for the children.
"However we do encourage contact with the parents under supervision where possible,” Trish said.
"We have started a farming project to help farmers to start farming again, and year round, by installing wells for a year round water supply.
"Our aim is to get the villagers earning income so that they can rebuild their communities.”
Trish said they have received plenty of assistance from the village chiefs to make sure the funds go to the right areas.
"We have just started a raffle to raise money for 10 wells, seeds, fencing and also a mini-van so that we can transport the children,” she said.
They have started a small local tour business to not only provide employment but also an income for the Happy Hub house.
"To date Alecia and I have been paying for everything so it is a big stretch,” Trish said.
"I live in Noosa and travel to Cambodia at least two times a year to oversee what is going on, and spend time with the children.
Trish's local supporters have organised a raffle with the grand prize either $10,000 or a trip for two to Cambodia worth $10,000.
She is waiting for the online ticket seller to link to the website, but physical tickets are now available.
To find out more go to: www.happyhubkampot.org.
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