30 black gowns, 1 Cambodian idol and a crowd of teary faces: the 2018 graduation was a night to remember. As 30 CCF students triumphantly tossed their caps into the air, it was time to celebrate and reflect on where it all began

On December 20th, 2018, CCF students, families, staff and supporters, excitedly gathered in the Neeson Cripps Academy to celebrate the graduation of 30 of our students from university.

Seriously experienced event photography by www.SNAPP.media

To understand the significance of this event is to understand the history of CCF. Among the 30 graduates to receive their degrees were some of the first children to be rescued from the toxic Steung Meanchey garbage dump in 2004/5.

What these students have achieved is nothing short of remarkable. Coming from the most impoverished parts of Cambodia, many of these students had never been to school before joining CCF and now they have the world at their feet.

One of the graduates, Rous Sreynich, 24, was found on the dumpsite at the age of 8 by CCF Founder, Scott Neeson. She was one of the first kids to be accepted into CCF.

“I never dreamed that I would have a chance to finish university and graduate. In the past I was just a girl who worked in the garbage dump, I thought I would never have the chance to go to school,” explained Sreynich.
“This event makes us remember where we have come from and our journey with CCF. I would love for the next generation to have a graduation like this.”

Graduating with a B.A. in Management from Norton University, Sreynich has now set her sights on doing a Masters and hopes to own her own business one day. While her journey with CCF has come to an end, a new chapter in her life is just beginning.

All 30 students who graduated have overcome the worst of conditions. This night was a chance to celebrate their hard work in style: a selfie booth, a performance by former Cambodian Idol Candidate, Sophea Tepy, and an open stage. The students danced the night away with their loved ones.

From the garbage dump to graduation, for these students the cycle is complete. And for the younger generation, peeking in on the night’s events, it is a glimpse into their future.

The night was particularly touching for CCF Founder, Scott Neeson, who said: “Watching children who once worked on the dump graduate from university is a huge and emotional moment for me. Now we are at the end of their circle. It’s hard to describe how far they and CCF have come. We are all very proud of every one of them.”

CCF looks forward to celebrating many more graduations to come, and witnessing what the students go on to achieve. Empowered through education, this will be the last generation to know a life of poverty.


Alice Brown/CCF

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