IN 2007 while working with children in Ghana, Neville O’Grady saw an advertisement that said “small orphanage in Cambodia needs help,” so he came to the Kingdom and decided to stay.
Originally from Skegness in Lincolnshire, England, O’Grady was an industrial engineer with British Aerospace working in Cairo, where he first started working with charities.
“It’s one thing to make a great whopping salary,” he says. “It’s a damned sight nicer to see a young girl or boy start a good life.”
In the capital, on Street 130, O’Grady has the Phnom Penh Car Racing Center where people can race slot cars for 10 minutes for 2,000 riel (50 US cents) and the proceeds go to the orphanage in Takeo, a rural town about 79 kilometers south.
He also has two bright yellow tuk tuks that visitors can take.
Once the running costs are paid, the proceeds go to the orphanage.
With 165 children, the NGO is called New Futures and includes a library and a vocational training room. There’s also a guest house called New Futures Center where visitors can stay for $5 per night and teach the children at the orphanage what they know.
“The most valuable thing the volunteers do with the kids is sit and talk to them,” O’Grady said. “One lady from England donated 1,000 quid.”
In addition to the tuk tuks, O’Grady operates a mobile library to bring books to seven rural schools.
“We make sure all the kids have got a book with them,” he said.
“Most of the kids want to take care of their families and we want to help them into good jobs.”