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The Children’s Sanctuary

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29 June 2009

By Maree Woodley.

In April this year I visited an orphanage in Cambodia in the town of Siem Reap, on my arrival I was overwhelmed by the children, their health, their history and the tragic stories resulting in their abandonment.

Of the 16 children living in the orphanage a small child called “Vichet” ran up to me, grabbed my legs and wouldn’t let me go. Like all the children in the orphanage, “Vichet” has a heart wrenching story, which is reflective of the challenges all these wonderful children have endured in their early lives.

Vichet was abandoned by his parents as a one year old baby, left with his grandparents who had both developed Tuberculosis. At the age of three, Vichet was discovered to have also contracted TB, and was placed in the care of the kind people at The Childrens’ Sanctuary. Fortunately due to the correct medical care and attention from the team at the Orphanage, Vichet has made a full recovery and will grow up to live a normal adult life.

Vichet is just one example of the amazing work being undertaken by the founders of the Orphanage, Dawn Cornish and her husband Andrew Clift, and their support staff. I was overwhelmed by the passion, commitment and generosity of Dawn and Andrew, as they both commit almost all of their time and a significant financial commitment, for the sake of the kids.

They tell unimaginable stories of children who are suffering with diseases such as HIV, Aids, congenital hearing and speech deficit, cerebral palsy and epilepsy. These same children are also vulnerable to child traffickers who in many cases will exploit them as cheap labour, and expose them to sexual exploitation.

To ensure the ongoing viability of the Orphanage, Dawn and Andrew provide, apart from their own time, seven permanent nannies, a full time cook, an Orphanage Manager and a Security Guard, together with a range of other support activities for the day to day operations.

I was so touched by their efforts, and the plight of the children, that I offered to help in any way I could. The key is finding consistent and regular financial support, either through sponsorship of the children or one off donations with child sponsorship from as little as $50USD per month. Needless to say my family and I are now the proud donor family for little Vichet, who stole my heart.

The key with this extra financial support is that all funds will be used to expand the facility to take in more sick and hungry children, and to also offer broader levels of service to single and disadvantaged mothers. The funds are also used for general support for poor families within the community. Dawn and Andrew have recently started a program that assists local families to become self sufficient, assisting with food, finance, education etc, which is critical for the future of these families.

The Orphanage and charity is a not for profit organisation and they will provide details of their accounts to ensure transparency, with tax receipts for any donations available through “The Australian AIDS Fund

I was recently involved in helping organise a brochure for the Orphanage which was kindly donated by a friend of mine from JSA Design Agency in Brisbane. The brochure contains all the information you need to know about this amazing facility, the incredible work they undertake and how you can assist. I urge anyone planning a visit to Cambodia to call by the The Childrens’ Sanctuary as it is an absolutely life changing experience.

Our beloved Vichet, holding a photo of his Australian extended family.


To make a donation to this incredibly worthy cause, send an email to the email address below with your details.

[email protected]

Visit the website to gain more of an insight into the amazing work of these wonderful people, and this outstanding charity.

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