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

    Video As Refugees Perish, Greek Graveyards Fill

    Before burial at overflowing cemeteries, unidentified dead being swapped for DNA, in case some day relatives come to learn their fate

    Russian Opposition Leader Sues Putin for Conflict of Interest

    Alexei Navalny tells VOA in exclusive interview why transfer of $2 billion from country’s wealth fund to company with ties to President Putin’s son-in-law triggered lawsuit

    How Diversity Has Changed America

    Over the past four decades, the level of diversity in the United States has increased most in these four states

    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.
    As Refugees Perish, Greek Graveyards Filli
    X
    Hamada Elsaram
    February 11, 2016 8:01 PM
    Aid workers on the Greek island of Lesbos say they are struggling to bury the increasing number of bodies of refugees that have been recovered or washed up ashore in recent months.  The graveyards are all full, they say, yet as tens of thousands of people clamor to get out of Syria, it is clear refugees will still be coming in record numbers. For VOA, Hamada Elrasam reports from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video As Refugees Perish, Greek Graveyards Fill

    Aid workers on the Greek island of Lesbos say they are struggling to bury the increasing number of bodies of refugees that have been recovered or washed up ashore in recent months.  The graveyards are all full, they say, yet as tens of thousands of people clamor to get out of Syria, it is clear refugees will still be coming in record numbers. For VOA, Hamada Elrasam reports from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video To Fight Zika, Scientists Target Mosquitoes

    Mosquitoes strike again. The Zika virus outbreak is just the latest headline-grabbing epidemic carried by these biting pests, but researchers are fighting back with new ways to control them. VOA's Steve Baragona takes a look.
    Video

    Video Mosul Refugees Talk About Life Under IS

    A top U.S. intelligence official told Congress this week that a planned Iraqi-led operation to re-take the city of Mosul from Islamic State militants is unlikely to take place this year. IS took over the city in June 2014, and for the past year and a half, Mosul residents have been held captive under its rule. VOA's Zana Omar talked to some families who managed to escape. Bronwyn Benito narrates his report.
    Video

    Video Scientists Make Progress Toward Better Diabetes Treatment, Cure

    Scientists at two of the top U.S. universities say they have made significant advances in their quest to find a more efficient treatment for diabetes and eventually a cure. According to the International Diabetes Federation, the disease affects more than 370 million people worldwide. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video NATO to Target Migrant Smugglers

    NATO has announced plans to send warships to the Aegean Sea to target migrant smugglers in the alliance's most direct intervention so far since a wave of people began trying to reach European shores.
    Video

    Video Russia's Catholics, Orthodox Hopeful on Historic Pope-Patriarch Meeting

    Russia's Catholic minority has welcomed an historic first meeting Friday in Cuba between the Pope and the Patriarch of Russia's dominant Orthodox Church. The Orthodox Church split with Rome in 1054 and analysts say politics, both church and state, have been driving the relationship in the centuries since. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
    Video

    Video Used Books Get a New Life on the Streets of Lagos

    Used booksellers are importing books from abroad and selling them on the streets of Africa's largest city. What‘s popular with readers may surprise you. Chris Stein reports from Lagos.
    Video

    Video After NH Primaries All Eyes on South Carolina

    After Tuesday's primary in New Hampshire, US presidential candidates swiftly turned to the next election coming up in South Carolina. The so-called “first-in-the-South” poll may help further narrow down the field of candidates. Zlatica Hoke reports.
    Video

    Video US Co-ed Selective Service Plan Stirs Controversy

    Young women may soon be required to register with the U.S. Selective Service System, the U.S. government agency charged with implementing a draft in a national emergency. Top Army and Marine Corps commanders told the Senate Armed Services Committee recently that women should register, and a bill has been introduced in Congress requiring eligible women to sign up for the military draft. The issue is stirring some controversy, as VOA’s Bernard Shusman reports from New York.
    Video

    Video Lessons Learned From Ebola Might Help Fight Zika

    Now that the Ebola epidemic has ended in West Africa, Zika has the world's focus. And, as Carol Pearson reports, health experts and governments are applying some of the lessons learned during the Ebola crisis in Africa to fight the Zika virus in Latin America and the Caribbean.
    Video

    Video Smartphone Helps Grow Vegetables

    One day, you may be using your smartphone to grow your vegetables. A Taipei-based company has developed a farm cube — a small, enclosed ecosystem designed to grow plants indoors. The environment inside is automatically adjusted by the cube, but it can also be controlled through an app. VOA's Deborah Block has more on the gardening system.
    Video

    Video Illinois Voters Have Mixed Emotions on Obama’s Return to Springfield

    On the ninth anniversary of the launch of his quest for national office, President Barack Obama returned to Springfield, Illinois, to speak to the Illinois General Assembly, where he once served as state senator. His visit was met with mixed emotions by those with a front-row seat on his journey to the White House. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.
    Video

    Video Exhibit Turns da Vinci’s Drawings Into Real Objects

    In addition to being a successful artist, Renaissance genius Leonardo da Vinci designed many practical machines, some of which are still in use today, although in different forms. But a number of his projects were never realized — until today. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Heated Immigration Debate Limits Britain’s Refugee Response

    Compared to many other European states, Britain has agreed to accept a relatively small number of Syrian refugees. Just over a thousand have arrived so far -- and some are being resettled in remote corners of the country. Henry Ridgwell reports on why Britain’s response has lagged behind its neighbors.
    Video

    Video Russia's Car Sales Shrink Overall, But Luxury and Economy Models See Growth

    Car sales in Russia dropped by more than a third in 2015 because of the country's economic woes. But, at the extreme ends of the car market, luxury vehicles and some economy brands are actually experiencing growth. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.