Not so far away from Townsville, there are children living in extreme poverty.
These Cambodian children have no safe place to sleep, barely any clothes, food or clean water and no access to healthcare or education.
They live in the darkest and most dangerous of environments imaginable for children and face horrors no child should ever have to endure.
Yet, a small Australian charity known as The Children’s Sanctuary has been quietly helping to change the course of many children’s lives for over 15 years.
But now they need our help.
Established by Australian couple, Andrew Clift and Dawn Cornish in 2006 after they honeymooned in Cambodia and were shocked by the extreme level of poverty suffered in the community, the charity provides young people with educational opportunities and the ability to grow in peace and safety.
More than changing these children’s lives individually, the charity hopes the young people it helps will grow into community leaders and go on to inspire long term change for future generations in their country.
Along with medical, educational, entrepreneurial and other community-based initiatives the Children’s Sanctuary’s primary program is its Orphanage in Siem Reap province, Cambodia.
Where children are rescued from the most dire of circumstances and able to live in a supportive, safe and healthy environment with access to education and healthcare while still maintaining their family connections.
Each child at the Sanctuary has a story, the beginnings of most so traumatic it’s hard for us to imagine.
But with the help of The Children’s Sanctuary team their lives are being transformed.
One such story is that of Makara, who was just three years old when she and her three siblings were welcomed into the Children’s Sanctuary. They were living with their mother who was struggling to provide food, shelter and clothes for her children. Because Makara’s mother was not eating or drinking enough she was unable to produce breast milk to feed Makara’s youngest sibling.
“These children have been with us for many years, the oldest, Makara is now 16,” Co-Founder Dawn said.
“It’s wonderful to see how she came from just about the worst situation you could imagine for a child and now she has grown into a gently spoken young woman who achieves top grades. She’s sensitive, caring and she’s healthy. It’s just absolutely glorious to see.”
Now the saviours are the ones who desperately need help.
The Children’s Sanctuary is reliant upon sponsorship, individual and corporate, to keep its programs running.
COVID has had a devastating impact, not only forcing it to put a number of initiatives on hold, but also prompting many loyal supporters to withdraw as sponsors due to impacts of the pandemic.
It means the Sanctuary is at a real risk of closure and the children who live there are in danger of being forced back into unsafe and frightening situations and unimaginable poverty.
“We don’t have to let our borders dictate to us where we can assist another human being.”Dawn Cornish – Co-founder
We all go through daily struggles including financial, family and health concerns but with that daily grind it can be sometimes easy or convenient to turn a blind eye to what others in this world may be enduring.
When Dawn and Andrew visited Cambodia the unbelievable poverty struck them to the core.
“We couldn’t believe that this was happening so close to Australia, and we didn’t even know about it,” Dawn said.
“The children were suffering, just like you would see on those World Vision ads years back, this is happening now in Cambodia.
“There is no way for them to get to a hospital, there is often no way for mothers to adequately care for their children. For food, they will eat anything they can find including bugs or snakes. They live under the most basic of shelters without protection from the environment or other dangers.
“We committed ourselves to these children and we are looking for others who may join with us in this venture and know that what they are giving is going directly to the children.
“We really emphasise good education because we want to end the cycle of poverty, we provide the children supplementary classes and we have tutors in the UK and Australia who do skype lessons because education is the key to ending that cycle.”
“I feel humbled that people have believed in this cause and have joined with us over so many years and proud of what we’ve been able to accomplish together. But now we need help to keep it going.”Dawn Cornish – Co-founder
“For a relatively small amount we can change these children’s lives and hopefully make a difference to their children and their children’s children.”
Every cent goes directly to helping the children and all donations are tax deductable in Australia.
Individuals – If you are in a position to make a one-off donation or provide ongoing support please get in touch with the Sanctuary.
The charity has set up a Go Fund Me page aiming to raise $30,000 to keep the orphanage open throughout 2022.
Businesses can support The Children’s Charity through one-off donations or ongoing corporate sponsorship.
Purcell Taylor Lawyers has close links with The Children’s Sanctuary. Our Director Melody is a Board Member and Secretary as well as being the sister of co-founder Dawn.
Purcell Taylor Lawyers is a corporate sponsor of The Children’s Sanctuary.