Tonight I fly from Melbourne to Cambodia, where I will be meeting with some other memebers of the Small Steps Team: Jen Goodall, a volunteer from Sydney, who has done considerable fundraising for the project, including running two marathons! Jen will be assisting me on the folllow up and the project on the new dump in Sihanoukville as well as giving out wellies, we will be giving out hats, socks and toys.
Joining Jen and I and our secret cameras is camera man, Simon Lohmeyer. After seeing the film screened in Sydney he went straight out and bought a flight to Phnom Penh the next day so that he could film the project. It is great having another camera man with us because that leaves more hands free for Jen and I to give out aid to the kids.
The three of us from Australia will be meeting up with Jake Corke, who will be asssisting with the project. Mey will also be joining us; those of you who have seen the film will know that Mey played a central role in the last documentary and helped coordinate the project and also translated.
So this time there are five of us. All the volunteers who are helping on this trip have paid for themselves and are taking their own small steps to help with the project. Actually quite big steps, and though we don’t have long – only a week – because there are more of us this time, hopefully we will be able to help more children.
When we arrive we are meeting with and interviewing PSE, Pour Sourire D’Enfant, the NGO we took Win to at the end of the last documentary, to find out how the Stung Meanchey closure has affected them and what has happened to Win since we were last in Cambodia.
Then we will be meeting with The Cambodian Children Fund, another established NGO, to find out what they are doing and how they are helping some of the poorest children in Cambodia.
We will then be visiting the detention centre, funded by the UN and under the guise of a rehabilliatation centre, where there have been reports of serious abuse and gang rapes by guards on female inmates.
We have heard that men, women and children are all detained in the centre together. We would very much like to know what the UN is doing to investigate these claims and how such a situation is going unchecked.
The Small Steps team will then travel down to Sihanoukville where there is a small inhabited rubbish dump and we hope to be able to help as many of the children there as we can and help them take small steps out of poverty by giving them aid and taking them to established NGO’s in the area.