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No adoptions

No adoptions

Dear Editor,

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

adopted.

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."

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