Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - James Ricketson fundraises for poor

James Ricketson fundraises for poor

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
Ricketson has supported Cambodian families both emotionally and financially for many years and plans to continue doing so. Photo supplied

James Ricketson fundraises for poor

Australian filmmaker James Ricketson, 69, aims to raise an initial $50,000 for a housing project in Cambodia, despite his conviction on espionage charges and deportation following a royal pardon.

Ricketson said after his release from prison in September that he started helping poor Cambodian scavengers many years ago and will resume again. He and three others started a fund-raising website “Family By Family”, hoping to initially raise $50,000.

He said before his arrest that he helped many families living at dump sites – some of whom had successfully moved away from their scavenging ways.

Ricketson’s daughter Roxanne Holmes – also a team member of the Family By Family project – said they were attempting to raise $50,000 for the families.

“I have been helping poor Cambodian families for 22 years because I love Cambodia and the Cambodian people, especially the poor. They deserve a chance to make a better life for themselves, and especially the children,” Ricketson said on Monday.

Ricketson was sentenced to six years in prison in August on espionage charges and spent 15 months incarcerated before being granted a royal pardon in September.

‘Lovers’ quarrel’

“My time in jail has not affected my love for Cambodia. I think of it as a lovers’ quarrel. Some people in the government think I hate Cambodia. They are wrong . . . I love Cambodia,” he said.

Among the families supported by Ricketson was that of 26-year-old scavenger Nov Sreypich. Ricketson said he spent $7,000 to enable her parents to return to their home in Prey Veng province.

Sreypich said on Monday that she and other scavenger families at the Choeung Ek dumpsite had known Ricketson for seven years – 17 families had received his support.

“He helped buy property for them and [enabled them] to go back to live in their villages. He gave rice and money, and if the families wanted to return home to the provinces, he helped them,” Sreypich said, citing her parents as an example.

She said she wants to see scavenger children attend school.

Ricketson was deported after receiving the royal pardon. According to Cambodian law, he is permanently banned from returning to the Kingdom.

But he said on Monday that he was optimistic about his return and humanitarian work.

“I have not been banned from visiting Cambodia. If the government wants to stop me from doing humanitarian work in Cambodia, that is its decision. I will continue to help poor Cambodian families even if the government will not allow me to visit,” he said.

To learn more about Ricketson’s Family By Family project, please visit https://www.familybyfamily.org/about-1.

To make a donation and help fund it, kindly visit https://www.gofundme.com/family-by-family.

MOST VIEWED

  • Omicron patients can stay home: PM

    The Ministry of Health has issued a directive on the treatment of people who have tested positive for the highly transmissible Omicron coronavirus variant, following a suggestion from Prime Minister Hun Sen on the night of January 21. The directive permits home quarantine for those who

  • Cambodia’s first ever anime festival kicks off Jan 22 at capital’s F3 centre

    Phnom Penh's first ever Anime Festival will bring together fans, artists, shops and other local businesses with ties to the Japanese animation style for cosplay competitions, online games, pop-up shops and more on January 22, with Friends Futures Factory (F3) hosting. F3 is a project that

  • Hun Sen gets 4th Covid shot, urges compatriots to follow

    Prime Minister Hun Sen and his wife Bun Rany on January 14 received their fourth dose of Covid-19 vaccine and called on compatriots to follow suit as the Omicron coronavirus variant continues to spread in the community. This marks the launch of Cambodia's fourth-dose vaccination campaign,

  • Fourth dose Covid booster drive jabs 43K in two days

    In the first two days of the fourth-dose Covid-19 vaccination campaign, more than 43,000 people volunteered to get the jabs, while over 4.6 million people have received a third shot. Health ministry spokeswoman Or Vandine said that fourth-dose vaccinations, which began on January 14 exclusively with the Pfizer

  • Singapore backs Cambodia's efforts on Myanmar

    Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong supports Cambodia in its efforts to seek a solution to the ongoing Myanmar crisis as the chair of ASEAN. Lee expressed his support during a meeting with Prime Minister Hun Sen via videoconference on January 14, with the talks focused

  • Mr Pancake or M Crepe? Tasty by any title

    Crowds of people gather around a lone man with a mobile food cart every day at around 2pm in front of the Institut Francais du Cambodge to order what many say are the best crepes in Phnom Penh. To some – even to the man making