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Read more about the twins’ journey from CCF Founder, Scott Neeson:
At this time of year, I normally take a few steps back to reflect on our achievements.
However, this year, I want to take a few steps in to look at two students (twins) and their achievements. It takes a high level of involvement to keep children safe, ideally living with their family, and providing a life where they are able to thrive in their education, unburdened by adult problems.
We are not impassioned by reaching high attendance and retention rates. These are simply the end result of thousands of individual acts of caring throughout the year. Actions that are only possible because of your support, giving and care.
I came across the twins, Vanna and Vannay, during my evening walkabout. On a deserted piece of land, in a particularly dangerous area, these teeny twins – 5 years old and weighing just 10kg/22lbs – were living under a sheet of tarpaulin. They were hungry, frightened and alone.
They had parents but they lived elsewhere.
It took two cans of a tasty nutritional drink to entice them out. The photo here shows that very night. Their eyes were dulled and fearful.
This was the beginning of the girls’ CCF journey. One that would bring them into a world of unimaginable opportunity, hope, security and the chance to experience the joys of childhood. I hope you will provide your support today so we can continue to create opportunities like this for more children.
The first challenge was to reunite them with their parents in a safe home with the prospect of long-term security. This came in the form of a CCF World Housing home where, 5 years later, they still live today.
Their parents are good people, just in a terrible situation. The family was soon joined by the girls’ older sister who had been living away.
School was (and still is) the greatest gift we could provide the girls. They thrive, love the challenge of learning and, even more, rarely miss a day. The image that best represents this is our “Excellence Twins” achievement where they stand tall and confident, as much as their tiny, thin frames allowed!
This is how we measure our accomplishments.
Many challenges came our way. I remember receiving the call that their mother had been hit by a truck while working as a street sweeper and was in a serious condition in hospital. I remember picking up the girls from school, explaining as best I could what had happened, and the tense, silent drive to the emergency ward.
I remember the tears of the twins at the sight of their unconscious mother left to one side, unattended. After trying unsuccessfully to have a doctor examine her and get a C-scan, I raised an out-of-character ruckus that remains folklore among hospital staff to this day.
Thankfully, the mother made a full recovery and life returned to normal.
I remember the good times, such as when I brought them a cake so they could, for the first time, celebrate their birthday. Cake fights ensued as you can see in this wonderful photo. Leaving that night, the twins pulled me aside and asked in a quiet voice, “How old are we?”
“Six”, I said. They looked thrilled.
For the next few years the twins would walk with me in the late afternoons, often dancing to no music, making up games and wrestling. The joy of those twins was an inspiration.
But, with that, an ever-present question, “What if I hadn’t found them that night?”
And this is why I need your support. This is only one of the many stories of children I have found hungry, frightened and alone. No child should be left to such uncertainty.
This year, more than any other, I need your help to ensure that every Vanna and Vannay can be removed from danger and given the opportunity to thrive. It is the greatest gift you can give and the most basic right of every child.
With our current educational markers, there is a strong likelihood Vanna and Vannay will go on to complete their university degree. I may not be here to witness their graduation but the legacy, the “Return on Investment”, is knowing that the poverty, squalor and uncertainty has ended with their generation.
Your gift will ensure we can respond to and care for more children like Vanna and Vannay who are hungry, frightened and alone. Please give generously to Cambodian Children’s Fund today.
Founder, Cambodian Children’s Fund