Dave Hoover and his wife Colleen, from the U.S, are long-time supporters of CCF and sponsor one of our children. I am a big fan of Netflix documentaries, particularly about topics related to Asia and Asian culture. One afternoon, during the summer of 2012, I happened across the 2008 documentary, “Small Voices: The Stories of Cambodia’s Children” [a 2008 documentary following five children struggling to survive on the streets]. I have never been so simultaneously disturbed, moved and saddened. Before the presentation ended, my wife, Colleen, and I were sponsors. At the time, I had no idea what a quality organization and highly rated charity CCF is. I really didn’t care. That’s become a bonus as time has gone on. I only knew that we should help a child who so desperately needed it. And, knowing that our sponsorship was for an individual, identifiable, child, whom we could know, with whom we could communicate, even meet, rather than our contribution going into some general pool, made it that much more special. Receiving emails from our sponsored child has always been a thrill. But, they were even more meaningful as she started to learn English and would piece together the words a little bit raggedly but in a way we knew came straight from her heart. And, then the handmade greeting cards arrived, the photos, the news about her grade, her 13th birthday party last year, which we tried to make special for her. But, the most emotional experience of my life came when I traveled to Phnom Penh during 2013 to spend a Saturday with our sponsored child. She must have been very puzzled when she first saw me because as soon as our eyes met, her smile appeared and she clapped her hands; my tears started and wouldn’t stop. Finally, able to compose myself, I was able to deliver a few gifts to her and to CCF as a whole. I got a fantastic tour of the CCF facility and then we went where every girl wants to go…the mall! She, her best friend, our driver, interpreter and I, had a delightful time at the mall, at lunch, at her favorite park. We went shopping for school supplies, colored markers in particular. It was so cute to watch her examine every set of markers and colored pencils before her decision was finally made. I had to smile at her frustration while playing (and losing) a couple games of pure chance in the mall arcade where we spent about a half hour. Even riding on the elevator was special to her and she wanted to ride it only with me. As we dropped her off at her home, I knew that this was likely the most personally rewarding day I would ever live. I have never forgotten a single detail of that day and I never will. But, as excited as our sponsored child was that her sponsor came so far to visit her, I am truly confident that that day will never mean more to her than it did to me. Everyone should have this experience. But even if they can’t meet their sponsored child, anyone who has an interest in helping children in Cambodia, a country still not yet recovered from the horrible devastation and slaughter inflicted 35+ years ago by the Khmer Rouge, should sponsor a child through CCF. And, if someone doesn’t believe me about the challenges these young people face as they prepare to be the leaders of Cambodia’s future, then “Small Voices" will certainly convince them. The visuals in that movie explain more than I ever could in a short essay.
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