Between them, Lenore and Abinadi have 8 children, and now they have expanded their family to include a CCF child and granny. They came to Cambodian Children’s Fund to invest their time and expertise into the CCF Volunteer Program, but soon made the heartwarming commitment to sponsor Lenore, 65, and Abinadi, 59, are taking CCF by storm. The newly retired couple travelled to Cambodia from their home in California, USA, to volunteer with CCF. But within the first weeks of their trip, they made the life-changing decision to sponsor a child and a granny through CCF’s Sponsorship Program. Taking the leap from volunteers to sponsors was a clear decision for Lenore and Abinadi, who themselves have 8 children between them. “The very first day at CCF I was so impressed with the organization that I wanted to make a long term commitment. So first we looked at sponsoring a child,” Lenore explained. Abinadi and Lenore now sponsor 12-year-old Sreymom. Sreymom was accepted into CCF’s education program after her father passed away, leaving her mum unable to afford schooling on the wage she earned from scavenging. Sreymom now thrives in her classes, and with additional support from Abinadi and Lenore, she has a bright future ahead of her. The couple were also struck by CCF’s Granny Program, choosing to sponsor 76-year-old Granny Phan. Having lived through the Khmer Rouge regime, losing her husband and much of her family, Granny Phan has found her new family in CCF. “CCF gave me hope and changed my life. Without this support, I couldn’t survive,” said Granny Phan. “I'm not lonely anymore, I have a home to stay and I have CCF as my warm family for the rest of my life.” Abinadi and Lenore’s support will help ensure that Granny Phan can live in dignity, surrounded by her new loving family. “The Granny sponsorship is a wonderful addition. The Grannies help and lead with the little ones and that is a beautiful thing to see. Add to that, I see these elder women are blossoming, helping their communities and learning along the way – they did not get education as young women but now, they are enrolled in literacy programs. Our Granny now reads!” exclaimed Abinadi. The couple have been immersed in the world of CCF, experiencing the true essence of the community and taking time to get to know their sponsor child, Sreymom. “The day we took Sreymom, her best friend and her 2 brothers out to the trampoline park; I could not help tearing up- there was so much joy. The children were absolutely free of all cares and having a great time,” said Lenore. “It is such a pleasure to share some of the joy that they can experience just playing like my grandchildren would. We also got to meet our wonderful, Granny Phan. She blessed us profusely and told us how lucky we were to have children to help us in our old age!” Lenore, a Professor Emerita from David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA, specialises in nutrition and epidemiology and is sharing her knowledge to improve the health of children and families at CCF. “As Audrey Hepburn so wisely put it ‘As you grow older, you realize you have 2 hands; one for helping yourself and one for helping others.’ I am advising the Maternal Care and Child Health Program, the Food Service group and the Health Care group on best practices and enhancement of the nutritional support for healthy children,” Lenore explained. Meanwhile, Abinadi is using his years of experience in technology and healthcare to mentor staff in the grants department. “This might sound tough, but it is essential to the functioning of CCF so it is quite rewarding. I work with staff that are quite obviously dedicated to their positions and the mission of the organisation,” said Abinadi. CCF has had the great fortune of taking on many skilled professionals as volunteers over the years. For most, choosing to give their time to CCF is a careful decision based on credibility and impact. This was no different for Abinadi and Lenore, who are experienced in travelling and volunteering. “Lenore and I talked about exploring Asia and doing something valuable,” Abinadi explained. “CCF’s impressive reputation and credentials drew us here – this is a world where NGO’s are common but maintaining a terrific reputation is elusive over so many years.” “CCF is incredibly effective, thoughtful, responsive to community needs and compassionate. I only knew a small part of what they are accomplishing before I arrived- and am amazed daily to see the magnitude of its outreach and impact,” added Lenore. Abinadi and Lenore will leave a lasting mark on CCF, and their journey with the organisation is just beginning. Their sponsored child, Sreymom, will benefit from years of companionship, support and mentoring from Abinadi and Lenore. And for those who are contemplating sponsoring a child with CCF, Abinadi borrowed the words of His Holiness the Dalai Lama: “The Dalai Lama says, ‘It is not enough to be compassionate-you must act.’ Do it, this small thing is changing the lives of a child and/or Grannys and breaking the cycle of poverty for generations to come.”
If you have been left feeling inspired to sponsor a child or a granny with CCF, you can find out more here. CCF would like to say a special thank you to Lenore and Abinadi for placing their support and trust in CCF.