Cambodia 2007



- If you can't see complete report with pictures, please visit the following link for complete report -


I would like to share with all my friends and supporters my last Pay It Forward experience from 2007

After Paying it Forward in Pakistan last November, I traveled to Cambodia to visit the Centre for Children's Happiness (CCH). The Centre for Children's Happiness was founded in 2002 and it provides a home and education to approximately 150 children. The children are either orphans or belong to parents who cannot take care of them due to illness, disability and poverty. These children previously worked as garbage pickers at the Steung Mean Chey landfill in Phnom Penh,Cambodia

After hearing about CCH through a good friend back in 2006 and seeing the short documentary now posted on the PIFP page, I knew I had to get involved and at least make a difference in the life of ONE of these children.



After spending 15 days in Pakistan buying cows, I couldn't wait to go to Cambodia! It was a magical moment when I walked into CCH; the kids, would run up to me with their arms open, beautiful BIG smiles, filled me with hugs and welcomed me as if this was my new home. I have never experienced such a moment, feeling at home in a place that I have never been before.

I met with Mr. Sokha, Founder of CCH who made PIFP's visit fit to the kid's busy schedule. The next day I had a chance to visit
Steung Mean Chey landfill outside of Phnom Penh This was also an experience I will never forget.

There are no documentaries or pictures that can truly convey what it was like to be there. The odor, sounds of trucks coming and dumping trash...the sound of kids laughing despite all that was going on around them. In the few years of humanitarian labor I have been involved in, I have NEVER seen ANYTHING like this, to think that there are places around the world that are worst than Steung Mean Chey is hard to believe. For the first time in a while, I felt such an immense sense of frustration knowing that we were able to ONLY rescue one child

The visit was not long, as hard as it was to walk around the dump site for an hour; it was harder to understand how these little souls can stand to grow up in such an uninhabitable place. In moments like these, it is difficult to grasp the concept of making a difference "just" one soul at a time. Remaining focused had to be a priority, also seeing and feeling the outpouring of love from the CCH children, reminded me that one little soul at a time does work!

The frustration went away within the next few days, as I followed the children from CCH during their activities. Saturday after school was one of the many memorable moments as the CCH children were informed that a "visitor" (PIFP) from America was taking ALL 150 children out to dinner and the fair. Yes, 150 kids were ecstatic to know that the outing would also include ice cream! (a luxury for these kids). The ENERGY that 150 kids can generate from feeling blessed and truly happy can honestly "move mountains"

Another one of those moments was the very next day when I followed them on their "road trip" as they visited a nearby village to do an educational play for other children. Here is where I met Vuthy Nou a fellow humanitarian who had been teaching children in a small community because there were no schools nearby and children were not getting an education. Among these children was a very special 14 year old disabled boy named Piseth, who was not only literally dragging his feet on a make shift wheelchair, but who had also lost his father and sister to AIDS and his mother was also dying of AIDS. With only his grandmother to care for him, his life is full of challenges. 


The children from CCH brought a sack of rice to give to Piseth and his family after their play. While visiting at his precarious house we had the chance to speak to him. He was very shy and did not want us to see his mother as she was very ill. When we asked him if he needed anything other than the rice he couldn't think of anything else he would need. That is when we realized that a more suitable wheelchair would really help improve his life! After talking to Vuthy and other visitors we drove him to a nearby institution that Vuthy had seen a few times when driving by and knew that we could purchase a new wheelchair for approximately $50

Much to our surprise, when we arrived at the rehabilitation center, we found out that Piseth qualified to receive a FREE wheelchair! This would teach us all the power of action and just getting involved, no money was needed to change the life of this14 year old. Seeing Piseth in his new wheelchair helped reinforce the fact that lack of money should never be a reason for lack of action. Since the wheelchair was free, PIFP donated $150 to start a small library for the kids in the village where Piseth lives

Finally, let me introduce you to the little soul we were able to help during our visit to CCH. Her name is Channy, she is a 4 year old whose dream is to be a teacher, and her favorite foods are fresh vegetables and fruits. She was rescued last July from garbage picking at the dump. When I found out that there was no one to pay for her to continue her stay at CCH I knew that PIFP had to step in and help her, so we did. PIFP committed to pay $700 per year until she turns 18 years old in order for Channy to have the life that she deserves.



To think that it only takes $1.91 per day to change Channy's life, only reinforces the fact that lack of money should never be a reason for lack of action.

Thank you for taking the time to read how Pay It Forward Project is making a difference ONE little soul at a time

Denise Bobba 

Steung Meanchey Dump and Centre for Children's Happiness

The following link is a video that tells the story of the rescue of 11 children at Steung Meanchey by 100 Friends Projects November of 2005. (Playable with Windows Media Player or Real Player)

All the children at Centre for Children's Happines (CCH) lived and worked at Steung Meanchey before coming to CCH.Steung Meanchey Municipal Waste Dump is located in southern Phnom Penh, in a district of the city of the same name, Steung Meanchey. It is a part of the city with low-income neighborhoods and slums. The dump itself covers about 100 acres, or almost 6 hectares. It is flanked by private property on which rubbish pickers build makeshift huts and are charged extortionate rents by landowners. Roughly 2,000 people, about 600 of which are children, live and work there.It is nicknamed “Smoky Mountain” because of the miasma of smoke that the dump constantly gives off. It is literally on fire; the waste creates methane as it rots and the methane burns. In monsoon season and throughout much of the rest of the year, the surrounding area is swamped and the children live and play in fetid water.
Stung-Meanchey-landfill-17.jpg Most of the rubbish pickers at Steung Meanchey are either from Phnom Penh or came to Phnom Penh looking for work and ended up in the slums. Many of the approximately 600 children have parents or relatives who also work on the dump and look after them. Some of them go to school, but most do not - at least not on a regular basis -, and it is safe to say that virtually none of them ever completes a primary school education. The school fees are too high and their families need them to collect rubbish to contribute to the family income. Adults earn, on average, 4000 to 5000 riels (US$1.00 to $1.25) a day; children earn on average about half that amount. A whole family working together can actually earn more money than they could in the rural village from which they originally came.
 The first criterion of selecting a child for CCH is that the child has no adult guardian capable of looking after them, whether a parent, relative or other adult. Twice a week, mostly on Tuesday and Friday, Mech Sokha, the founder and director of CCH, conducts a survey at the landfill in order to look for homeless children without guardians. 
Stung-Meanchey-landfill-37.jpg Stung-Meanchey-landfill-43.jpg
 The social ills which create circumstances like those of the garbage pickers are numerous: chronic poverty, debt, poor health due to poor sanitation and lack of access to clean water, landlessness, low land productivity, natural disasters, lack of capital, high unemployment, poor skills and low levels of education, a torn social fabric which is the product of the Khmer Rouge genocide and subsequent on-going civil war lasting right up to 1997.CCH is located about three kilometers from the landfill, in the same part of the city, Steung Meanchey. The dirt road to the landfill is flanked by garbage recyclers, to whom the rubbish pickers sell their rubbish.If you would like more information about the backgrounds of the children at CCH, see “The Children’s Stories'. If you would like more information about Steung Meanchey Municipal Waste Dump, see the following articles and photos. 
Click for Slideshow of Steung Meanchey

For more information about this project, you can also visit,

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