It’s been 15 years since former high-flying Hollywood exec Scott Neeson made his first visit to Cambodia, and saw the children who survived by scavenging in the Steung Meanchey garbage dump in Phnom Penh. What happened next could almost be the script of a Tinseltown movie itself. This highly successful businessman who had worked his way up to the pinnacle of the US film industry from a working-class suburb of Australia turned his back on it all to form the Cambodian Children’s Fund (CCF).
That was 14 years ago, and the Fund is now responsible for changing the lives of hundreds of children, whose families are still dealing with the legacy of the Khmer Rouge regime. CCF has reached a stage where some of its projects include initiatives on the scale of the Neeson Cripps Academy, a world-class education facility in the heart of Steung Meanchey. Funded by the Cripps Foundation, it opened last year and will educate about 300 students in years 8 to 12 in the latest science and STEM-based education programmes.
“It’s the best education facility in Cambodia and it’s in the poorest area in the country,” Scott notes. “We have chemistry, robotics, maths, green screen animation and coding.”
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