“I want to help create an environment where the kids in Cambodia can finally be kids again,” Gabrielino junior Edward Tran expressed.
Historically, Cambodia had one of the most advanced economies in Southeast Asia. However, due to the genocide carried out in the 1970s by Khmer Rouge, a group of communists determined to destroy Cambodia’s social order, the country has fallen into a period of poverty.
According to the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), a nonprofit organization dedicated to helping children in third world countries, more than one third of Cambodians live below the poverty line, struggling to survive on less than a dollar a day. Furthermore, Cambodia has the highest infant and under-five mortality rates in the region.
When discovering this information, Tran knew that he needed to help. Beginning in the early months of 2017, Tran created a campaign named Project CARE (Cambodia Aid & Relief Endeavor) to provide relief for the impoverished children and families in need. Through numerous donations and fundraisers, he was able to raise over $3,000.
Utilizing this money, Tran assembled care packages and backpacks filled with food, water, hygienic products and school supplies. Then he took a trip to Cambodia earlier this month in order give these resources to over 1,000 children in schools and 15 families living in remote locations.
Stopping first in the city of Kampong Som located in the Sihanoukville Province, Tran went to Betrang Primary & Secondary School to hand out supplies to students.
Receiving permission from the principal, he introduced himself to the students, talked about life in the United States, and asked them about their backgrounds. The one factor he made sure to stress when talking to them was that they should all stay in school in order to obtain brighter futures.
“I still can’t believe Edward came all the way from the United States to help us,” Sokha Chea, a second grade student at Betrang stated. “I’m super thankful, and I won’t ever forget this day for the rest of my life.”
After wrapping up at Kampong Som, Tran journeyed to Phnom Penh city, the capital of Cambodia, to assist a group of homeless people dubbed the Train Track Families, their name deriving from the fact that they live on a road that used to be a train track.
With the help of David Modavy Pin, a Cambodian samaritan who supports these families daily, Tran provided beverages and sandwiches to the citizens living in the area. Today, these families are in danger of being evicted in order to create a government funded highway.
In the future, Tran hopes to turn Project CARE into a full-time nonprofit organization that shuttles people to Cambodia to help build homes and provide necessities to those in need. He can’t wait for the day where he can fly back to Cambodia and help even more, but for now, he settles for urging people who can to donate to the cause.
If you or anyone else wants to donate to the cause, please feel free to do so by clicking the “Donate Now” link under the donations tab at https://carecambodia.weebly.com/donations.html.
Courtesy: Hue Yim