In response to your article about adoptions ("Sar Kheng blames Kerry for adoption
deal", PPPost, Dec 22, 2000-Jan 4, 2001) I would like to clarify the ACF's philosophy.
That is, that none of the children registered with us have ever, or will ever, be
The decision to assist another organisation who does facilitate adoptions, by agreeing
to foster one of their registered babies until their approved adoptive families legally
finalised their Cambodian government documentation, was done in part to help our
other registered children, who will be parents themselves one day, understand how
to take care of a baby. At the time it seemed a good idea to expose our children
to the needs of a baby and we did so completely unaware that there might be critical
press surrounding our actions.
Together with my volunteers in Cambodia and one friend and volunteer in Australia,
who acts as the Foundation's Treasurer, we work with the children without deducting
salaries from donations given by ordinary Australian people, who pay A$25 a month
to sponsor a child. The ACF does not receive Australian government support
and we rely mainly on the generosity of the Australian public. We believe we may
be one of the few, if not the only NGO in Cambodia, that is run entirely by unpaid
volunteers, who use their personal funds to travel to Cambodia and who cover
all their expenses in the country, including paying for their food at the orphanage.
Since 1993 when the Foundation was established we have always strived to offer the
children in our care the kind of opportunities they need to be able to take up useful
independent lives inside Cambodia. To this end we have a fully functioning computer
school and English classes 5 times a week, as well as a small sewing school on weekends.
To ensure the spirit and traditions of Cambodia are kept alive, we have music and
dancing classes five days a week and will travel with over 20 of the children to
Australia in early 2002 to take part in the Adelaide Festival of Arts.
At the time of writing we employ 11 Cambodian full-time staff - a supervisor, computer
teacher, 2 music teachers, 1 dance teacher, 2 cooks, farm project manager, 3 farm
hands and 2 part time staff - a sewing teacher and doctor, who consults all children
every week. In August last year, a documentary, entitled My Khmer Heart, portraying
the children and covering a wide range of Cambodian issues, won the Documentary of
the Year Award at the Hollywood Film Festival and was also nominated at the Montreal
Film Festival. It has since been bought by the Home Box Office (HBO) television cable
station and it will be premiered in 2001.
- Geraldine Cox, A.M., Patron, The Australia Cambodia Foundation
Editor's note:The Post greatly appreciates the above clarification, since some confusion
arose after viewing AFCO's website which while noting that the NGO does not facilitate
adoptions states it "..merely takes in some small children from other crowded
orphanages to 'fatten them up' before their allotted families arrive to take them
back to their countries."