As a mother of two, Chanh Lam knows how a loving, caring home can make a difference in a child’s life but her story goes deeper than most who commit to sponsoring a child with CCF.
Chanh was born in Cambodia and became a refugee with her family after the fall of the Khmer Rouge regime. The family spent two years in a refugee camp in Thailand, surviving tough conditions and hostility, before finally gaining safe passage to start a new life in Australia.
These early beginnings give Chanh an insight into the hardships children in Cambodia have to overcome and the power of being given a second chance with a life-changing opportunity.
Which is why she decided to become a sponsor to a CCF child after seeing a call for more sponsors on social media.
Chanh’s husband, Quy, was also a refugee and migrated to Australia with his family in 1988 from Vietnam.
Both turned 40 this year - a time for reflection - and decided they wanted to give back and ‘pay it forward’ to others who need help to escape from challenging circumstances as they once did.
They’re now proud sponsors of adorable little Kanha, five, one of CCF’s kindergarten students.
I felt compelled to sponsor her and give her the opportunities that she may not otherwise have.
After reading about Scott's journey and how his work has transformed so many Cambodian children's lives, it inspired me to get involved,” explains Chanh.
“As I have two young boys, Kanha's photo spoke to me because my eldest is of a similar age to her. It made me think about how their lives are so different driven by the different opportunities they get. I felt compelled to sponsor her and give her the opportunities that she may not otherwise have."
Their sponsorship will ensure that Kanha can stay in CCF’s full-time Education Program and access all our services, such as free healthcare and community support for her mother, who is raising Kanha and her older sister alone.
Support from sponsors for a family like Kanha’s can make the difference between surviving and thriving.
Kanha’s mother is disabled and unable to work or walk far after an accident several years ago when she fell off a motorbike taxi.
CCF covered her medical expenses after the accident and has been supporting the family since the father abandoned the family.
CCF also provided the family - mum, Kanha and older sister, Vichekha, who is also in the CCF program - with a safe home in a CCF housing community.
Kanha is cared for all day, with a hearty lunch at kindergarten extending to a nutritious meal, if she needs it, at CCF’s Evening Food Program.
Kanha loves being in kindergarten with a structured day of fun and early learning.
The generosity of Chanh and Quy as sponsors gives Kanha - and her family - the stability and support she needs to thrive.
Chanh has a unique perspective and insight into Cambodian life - and the issues that Kanha faces daily living in a marginalized community - and the difference having someone on your side can make.
Chanh’s parents met during the Khmer Rouge regime. They later made their way to Khao-I-Dang refugee camp in Thailand with Chanh and her older brother while her mother was pregnant with her younger sister.
Her parents battled to survive the refugee camp for two years as smuggling, theft, and violence spiralled out of control after the government abruptly ended their open door policy welcoming Cambodian refugees. Due to Chanh's heart condition, which doctors from Médecins Sans Frontières (Doctors Without Borders) had diagnosed, the Australian government finally approved their relative's sponsorship on medical grounds and in 1986, her family moved to Australia.
I wanted to do something that invested in the well-being and future of children that need hope and support
23 years later, Chanh went back to Cambodia for the first time and saw with her own eyes the struggles many face.
“It gave me perspective about how truly lucky we are to live in Australia,” she says.
“We have access to clean water, housing, welfare, aged care and support services such as the NDIS whereas Cambodians live to survive the day they wake up.”
Settled in Melbourne, Chanh and her husband wanted to give back and saw CCF as the ideal conduit for them to make a real impact in the life of a child in Cambodia.
“We've donated to orphanages and schools in Cambodia in the past but this time, I wanted to do something that invested in the well-being and future of children that need hope and support,” says Chanh. “I'm so excited to be part of Kanha's life.”