Monday, April 16, 2012

When The Ground Shakes You.

I'm away from home right now, working in rural South Australia for a week...which means that, for the rarest of times, I have complete control over the television remote. It's a delicious thing but that's not the reason I'm talking here and now.

I've just finished watching this week's episode of "Australian Story" on our national public broadcaster, the ABC. The episode featured Scott Neeson, a former, major movie mogul in Hollywood (and Adelaide native), who gave up a lucrative career amongst the big players in the movie world, to work among the desperately poor children of Phnom Phen, Cambodia.

These children, many of whom are orphaned, eck out a meagre existence on the rubbish dumps of Phnom Phen, trawling through the putrid rubbish to find scraps of metal and recyclable plastic which they can sell. In many cases, they can hope to earn as much as 25 cents per day. They live on these rubbish dumps, risking the worst infections you can imagine, lethal illness and disease just so they can survive. They derive their dietary needs from the dump - often retrieving food scraps and liquids that have been discarded from the City's restaurants for sustenance.

There are certain tipping points in life that shake you out of your complacency, they make you think, they make you feel.

As Scott Neeson was documenting what he saw on these rubbish dumps, he described these children picking through the most putrid of rubbish - general refuse, feces, restaurant waste. But then he mentioned hospital waste - sharps, disposable medical equipment, amputated limbs, aborted foetuses. For me, that was the tipping point.

I mean, it's terrible enough that children as young as three are forced to live in such unimaginable conditions, but, for me, the image of a child turning over amputated limbs or even an aborted foetus - it shook me. It really shook me.

Scott Neeson has set up Cambodian Children's Fund - a charitable organization whose mission it is to get these children off the pile, to give them health care, education, good food and the chance for a better life. For a man who forged his career in a far different reality, where he dealt with major Hollywood stars who had a shit fit if the thread count on the seats in the private jet was inadequate, I found his left turn journey remarkable and courageous.

He has given hope to these children, access to health care and learning and mist important of all, a chance to forge their own positive future. So much of my life lately has been occupied by worries and concerns that, in the scheme of things, are miniscule, pathetic and petty. I'm greatful that I got to see this documentary. It's given me some perspective. And I've opened my wallet to offer up a small monthly donation. I'd like to do more and I see from the site, there may be an opportunity to do more. I'm giving serious thought to it.

CCF Australia


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