September 18th, 2008

All the while I’ve been obsessing over MISDIRECTION, which is, after all, only a work of fiction, Daniel Rothenberg has been living a very real life that affects more than a thousand of Cambodia’s poorest children.

Daniel is the founder of the Cambodian Children’s Educational Fund, and he’s doing a massive amount of good.  In a country where the Poverty Vampires raise money for the poor and use it to pay themselves big salaries, Daniel uses virtually every cent he’s given to change the lives of some of the world’s most disadvantaged kids.  He’s also a very talented photographer, and the images in this blog are his.

This is the “Back To School” letter Daniel just sent out:

Greetings from very wet and rainy Phnom Penh. Yes it is that time of year again… back to school. I thought it would be a great time to catch everyone up on the life and times of Daniel and CCEF here in Cambodia.

All is well. All is busy. I just returned from a trip to Bangkok where I picked up 20 cameras that where generously donated to the Cambodian Children’s Education Fund by Canon Thailand. The cameras will be put to great use starting in October as we begin our photography education and competition projects with kids from our schools and from other education and child-development programs.

. . . as of this writing CCEF now has schools we are running or supporting in Phnom Penh, Siem Reap, Kompong Thom, and Battambang. We have the beginnings of our outreach and eventually in-house Photography Education Programs, and we have developed some new wonderful relationships with local companies and families that are for the first time getting involved with and helping to support the efforts of CCEF.

CCEF is now supporting language and vocational education for more than 1,000 children at 7 locations as well as consulting and working in cooperation and support with 6 other great education focused Cambodian organizations. All of our programs and our partners continue focusing on using improved access to quality education to help the poorest of the poor improve their daily lives and re-awaken their hopes for a better future.

The children here continue to amaze me and break my heart and make me smile. The country is growing and improving in many ways, and yet the struggles and poverty are getting worse for so many at the same time. If not for the love and ongoing support of all of you none of this needed work would be happening. Life for me here is always a battle between the joys of helping these children and the struggle and stresses of witnessing severe poverty every moment of everyday, and almost always well worth the efforts. Love, joy, harsh reality, cruelty, and hope walk hand in hand and I feel so very lucky to be here and even a small part of the possibility for a better future.

When I see a child at one of our schools laugh and play and seem re-awakened to the happiness of life I am for a moment the luckiest man alive. My biggest most heartfelt thanks to everyone for making this work possible. The Children and their families send a Big Thank You to all of you too.

I’m sending Daniel $100, not as much as I’d like, but it’s what I can do right now.  These kids need these schools if they’re going to have any chance in life.  If you’re interested in helping out, please e-mail me and I’ll get you the info you need.

3 Responses to “Non-Fiction”

  1. Larissa Says:

    I wouldn’t be able to donate until after I’m back in KC but if the first or second week in October isn’t too late I’d love to help out. Just lemme know. (c:

  2. Timothy Hallinan Says:

    Thanks, Riss — you’re a champ. Even ten bucks would help. These people are doing this on a shoestring, making up with creativity what they lack in funding. Will send you the address to send a check to.

  3. Larissa Says:

    I haven’t gotten the address yet from you for this-just wanted to make sure you haven’t forgotten me (c:>

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