News / Asia

For Cambodian Kids, a Tinseltown Legacy

Tinseltown Legacy for Cambodian Kidsi
X
Say Mony
March 13, 2014 3:05 PM
He once helped sell Hollywood magic on screens across the globe, but after a visit to an infamous Cambodian garbage dump, Scott Neeson started helping poor children fulfill dreams of a better future. Colin Lovett narrates this report by Say Mony in Phnom Penh.
VIDEO: After visiting an infamous Cambodian garbage dump, former Hollywood executive started helping poor children fulfill dreams of a better future. Colin Lovett narrates this report by Say Mony in Phnom Penh.
Say Mony
He spent decades selling Hollywood magic on screens across the globe, until a brief visit to Phnom Penh's infamous Stung Meanchey garbage dump gave former CEO Scott Neeson the wake up call of a lifetime.

"I was living a very privileged life in the West,” he recently told VOA Khmer of that decisive moment in 2003. “I was living in Hollywood as a single guy — lots of beautiful women, boats, cars, movie stars — and all of the sudden you’re confronted with the other extreme. And it’s very hard to turn your back once you’ve seen it.”

After 26 years in the film industry, Neeson, the former president of the U.S.-based 20th Century Fox International, says it was the image of sick children atop mountains of trash that changed his life forever. It was a year after his first glimpse of Stung Meanchey that he sold his boat and car and moved to Cambodia, where his organization, Cambodian Children’s Fund (CCF), has since made a difference in the lives of thousands of the country's most disadvantaged children and their families, by supporting campaigns for education, nutrition and health.

FILE - Young Cambodian boy pulls bicycle tires at Stung Meanchey rubbish dump, Phnom Penh.FILE - Young Cambodian boy pulls bicycle tires at Stung Meanchey rubbish dump, Phnom Penh.
x
FILE - Young Cambodian boy pulls bicycle tires at Stung Meanchey rubbish dump, Phnom Penh.
FILE - Young Cambodian boy pulls bicycle tires at Stung Meanchey rubbish dump, Phnom Penh.
For children such as 10-year-old Mao Liza, Neeson's fund means she no longer helps her grandmother scavenge items from the massive trash heaps, but instead spends her day learning to read and write.

Her older sister, Suong Lida, 15, has also stopped scavenging. Now she helps with housework and takes English and computer classes at CCF.

“I want to learn at CCF because when I am educated I will get a job,” she said. “And of course because the classes are free of charge as well.”

The sisters likely would have stayed out of school had Neeson not visited Stung Meanchey more than a decade ago. Since then, CCF has begun to provide training in English, computer skills, drawing, and painting, while older youth receive vocational training and, in some cases, go on to university.

“You just fall in love with the kids here,” Neeson said. “They are just amazing kids, so much potential, so much hope, and I thought I could do a whole lot more for the world than making movies.”

Neeson, who once oversaw the release of top grossing films such as Titanic and Braveheart, says CCF also provides families with essential support — from medical treatment to subsidized food — to ensure that parents aren't repeatedly confronted with the impossible decision of whether or not to send their children to school or have them help generate income or look after their siblings.

“I can understand that," Neeson said. "It's a choice between: does the child get to go to school, or do we get food on the table that night?”

For Sok Phal, Mao Liza's uncle, CCF has improved life for his entire family. His niece and daughter are able to get some education, and he and his wife now have a tuk-tuk and a sewing machine to help them with an income.

“I have never imagined my niece and daughter would be able to speak English,” he said. “But now they do. Before, they had no chance to go to school because they had to scavenge alongside me, my wife and my mother.”

This report was produced in collaboration with the VOA Khmer service.

You May Like

Australia-Cambodia Resettlement Agreement Raises Concerns

Agreement calls for Cambodia to accept refugees in return for $35 million in aid and reflects Australia’s harder line approach towards asylum seekers and refugees More

India Looks to Become Arms Supplier Instead of Buyer

US hopes India can become alternative to China for countries looking to buy weapons, but experts question growth potential of Indian arms industry More

Earth Day Concert, Rally in Washington

President Obama also took up the issue Saturday in his weekly address, saying there 'no greater threat to our planet than climate change' More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Marilyn Roselius from: Charlottesville, Virginia
March 14, 2014 7:01 AM
THANK YOU for rescuing the children and providing them and their families with enough food, means, and education to be healthy, to grow, and to flourish as they are meant to. Hopefully, many others with the will and the means will follow your wonderful example - and theirs.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Are Energy Needs Putting Thailand's Natural Beauty at Risk?i
X
Steve Sandford
April 17, 2015 12:50 AM
Thailand's appetite for more electricity has led to the construction of new dams along the Mekong River to the north and new coal plants near the country's famous beaches in the south. A proposed coal plant in a so-called "green zone" has touched off a debate. VOA's Steve Sandford reports.
Video

Video Are Energy Needs Putting Thailand's Natural Beauty at Risk?

Thailand's appetite for more electricity has led to the construction of new dams along the Mekong River to the north and new coal plants near the country's famous beaches in the south. A proposed coal plant in a so-called "green zone" has touched off a debate. VOA's Steve Sandford reports.
Video

Video Overwhelmed by Migrants, Italy Mulls Military Action to Stabilize Libya

Thousands more migrants have arrived on the southern shores of Italy from North Africa in the past two days. Authorities say they expect the total number of arrivals this year to far exceed previous levels, and the government has said military action in Libya might be necessary to stem the flow. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Putin Accuses Kyiv of ‘Cutting Off’ Eastern Ukraine

Russian President Vladimir Putin, in his annual televised call-in program, again denied there were any Russian troops fighting in Ukraine. He also said the West was trying to ‘contain’ Russia with sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports on reactions to the president’s four-hour TV appearance.
Video

Video Eye Contact Secures Dog's Place in Human Heart

Dogs serve in the military, work with police and assist the disabled, and have been by our side for thousands of years serving as companions and loyal friends. We love them. They love us in return. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports on a new study that looks at the bio-chemical bond that cements that human-canine connection.
Video

Video Ukrainian Volunteers Search for Bodies of Missing Soldiers

As the cease-fire becomes more fragile in eastern Ukraine, a team of volunteer body collectors travels to the small village of Savur Mohyla in the what pro-Russian separatists call the Donetsk Peoples Republic - to retrieve bodies of fallen Ukrainian servicemen from rebel-held territories. Adam Bailes traveled with the team and has this report.
Video

Video Xenophobic Violence Sweeps South Africa

South Africa, long a haven for African immigrants, has been experiencing the worst xenophobic violence in years, with at least five people killed and hundreds displaced in recent weeks. From Johannesburg, VOA’s Anita Powell brings us this report.
Video

Video Sierra Leone President Koroma Bemoans Ebola Impact on Economy

In an interview with VOA's Shaka Ssali on Wednesday, President Ernest Koroma said the outbreak undermined his government’s efforts to boost and restructure the economy after years of civil war.
Video

Video Protester Lands Gyrocopter on Capitol Lawn

A 61-year-old mailman from Florida landed a small aircraft on the Capitol lawn in Washington to bring attention to campaign finance reform and what he says is government corruption. Wednesday's incident was one in a string of security breaches on U.S. government property. Zlatica Hoke reports the gyrocopter landing violated a no-fly zone.
Video

Video Apollo 13, NASA's 'Successful Failure,' Remembered

The Apollo 13 mission in 1970 was supposed to be NASA's third manned trip to the moon, but it became much more. On the flight's 45th anniversary, astronauts and flight directors gathered at Chicago's Adler Planetarium to talk about how the aborted mission changed manned spaceflight and continues to influence space exploration today. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports.
Video

Video Badly Burned Ukrainian Boy Bravely Fights Back

A 9-year-old Ukrainian boy has returned to his native country after intensive treatment in the United States for life-threatening burns. Volodia Bubela, burned in a house fire almost a year ago, battled back at a Boston hospital, impressing doctors with his bravery. Faith Lapidus narrates this report from VOA's Tetiana Kharchenko.
Video

Video US Maternity Leave Benefits Much Less Than Many Countries

It was almost 20 years ago that representatives of 189 countries met at a UN conference in Beijing and adopted a plan of action to achieve gender equality around the world. Now, two decades later, the University of California Los Angeles World Policy Analysis Center has issued a report examining what the Beijing Platform for Action has achieved. From Los Angeles, Elizabeth Lee has more.
Video

Video Endangered Hawaiian Birds Get Second Chance

Of the world's nearly 9,900 bird species, 13 percent are threatened with extinction, according to BirdLife International. Among them are two Hawaiian honeycreepers - tiny birds that live in the forest canopy, and, as the name implies, survive on nectar from tropical flowers. Scientists at the San Diego Zoo report they have managed to hatch half a dozen of their chicks in captivity, raising hopes that the birds will flutter back from the brink of extinction. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Exhibit Brings Renaissance Master Out of the Shadows

The National Gallery of Art in Washington has raised the curtain on one of the most intriguing painters of the High Renaissance. Mostly ignored after his death in the early 1500s, Italian master Piero di Cosimo is now claiming his place alongside the best-known artists of the period. VOA’s Ardita Dunellari reports.
Video

Video Sidemen to Famous Blues Artists Record Their Own CD

Legendary blues singer BB King was briefly hospitalized last week and the 87-year-old “King of the Blues” may not be touring much anymore. But some of the musicians who have played with him and other blues legends have now released their own CD in an attempt to pass the torch to younger fans... and put their own talents out front as well. VOA’s Greg Flakus has followed this project over the past year and filed this report from Houston.
Video

Video Iran-Saudi Rivalry Is Stoking Conflict in Yemen

Iran has proposed a peace plan to end the conflict in Yemen, but the idea has received little support from regional rivals like Saudi Arabia. They accuse Tehran of backing the Houthi rebels, who have forced Yemen’s president to flee to Riyadh, and have taken over swaths of Yemen. As Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA, analysts say the conflict is being fueled by the Sunni-Shia rivalry between the two regional powers.

VOA Blogs