In its two decades of operations, the Cambodian Children's Fund (CCF) has liberated some of the Kingdom’s most at-risk children. It provides knowledge, food and health care to thousands of vulnerable children and their community members.

On the occasion of the 20th anniversary of its 2004 founding, His Majesty King Norodom Sihamoni visited the organisation in Steung Meanchey to join in the celebrations of its exceptional work.

He praised the CCF for its ongoing efforts to enhance the lives of children and families in impoverished communities in Cambodia.

“I extend my gratitude and appreciation to the Cambodian Children’s Fund and all the teachers, officials, and staff who have devoted their physical and mental efforts to educating children as their own,” said His Majesty, during the May 28 celebrations, held at CCF’s Neeson Cripps Academy (NCA) high school.

“I would like to thank Scott Neeson, founder and executive director of the CCF. Every year, the fund assists thousands of poor Cambodian children in obtaining education, maintenance and support to acquire a wealth of knowledge,” he added.

The King noted that several CCF high school graduates are now working as civil servants or in the private sector, with some earning scholarships to study abroad, thereby ensuring better lives for their families. 

“This is a noble activity of the organisation, which has partnered with the government to contribute to the improvement of the Kingdom’s human resources, the most crucial factor in the development of Cambodian society,” he said.

Sihamoni described the initiative as “empowering” children to grow from young shoots to strong bamboo plants and become good students and citizens.

The festivities saw the attendance of 500 people, including venerable Bour Kry, chief monk of the Dhammaguttikanikaya sect, senior officials, ambassadors and dignitaries, and local and foreign supporters of the fund.

His Majesty generously donated $5,000, 20 tonnes of rice, 500 boxes of noodles and 250 boxes of canned fish. 

King Norodom Sihamoni (left) praised Scott Neeson, founder of the Cambodian Children’s Fund (CCF), for his excellent work in support of some of the Kingdom’s most vulnerable children over the past two decades. CCF

“I take this opportunity to appeal to national and international philanthropists to continue to provide materials and financial support to sustain the work of the CCF in the noble cause of helping Cambodian children,” he said.

During the ceremony, His Majesty presented awards to CCF staff and donors, in recognition of their contributions to the organisation’s success. 

He also toured the NCA and a fair which showcased the work of CCF students in science and technology, art and design, 3D and motion capture, and Khmer poetry.

Neeson founded the CCF in 2004, by helping one girl and her family who lived as scavengers at the garbage dump in Steung Meanchey. It has since grown exponentially, and now works with 4,300 children who are deemed at high risk of neglect, malnutrition or abuse due to poverty.  

“The Neeson Cripps Academy is a terrific example of the transformation we have made. This site was once a garbage-strewn piece of land. This phenomenal building now stands as a beacon of hope for the community,” said Neeson. 

“As we look towards the future, I am excited about the possibilities that lie ahead. We want to widen the impact and share the knowledge we now have to benefit more children and people in need,” he added.

Evidence of CCF’s work over the past 20 years is visible throughout the Steung Meanchey community. 

CCF housing communities and community-based schools now stand on ground that was once one of the largest garbage dumps in Asia.

The flagship NCA provides a world-class education with a STEM-focused curriculum. CCF also continues to work on the ground to achieve the most significant impact and direct community support, including a medical clinic and daycare provision.

CCF’s mission to end generational poverty is driven by creating tomorrow’s leaders, transforming children once deemed unreachable into passionate, engaged young leaders who care for their community and their country, it explained.

Over 70 per cent of the first generation of CCF students have gone on to university and developed successful careers, with many now working to pull their families out of poverty. 

Sokchannoeurn Kram, CCF country manager and one of the first employees who helped Neeson to launch the organisation, received the Grand Order of National Merit of Cheatopka medal from King Sihamoni.

“When we started CCF, there were only a handful of staff. It's Scott's leadership, his love, and his care that have built this organisation. It was from the love and care he has spread all over us. So today, everyone here at CCF is proud to work for CCF and is proud to work for Scott,” she said.

"I also feel pride when I see a kid I've known since they were sitting in my lap, standing on stage wearing a graduation gown. They come up with a big smile and just say 'thank you,' and you will see them go back and help their families, the younger generation. I feel everything in that moment; it gives me goosebumps," she added.