A whole generation of artists, intellectuals and teachers was lost to Cambodia at the hands of the brutal Khmer Rouge regime in the 1970s. Many families in Cambodia still live in desperate poverty but the country is gradually taking charge of its future, one child at a time.
Auckland photographer Stacey Simpkin photographed some of these children during visits to Cambodia with the New Zealand-based Cambodia Charitable Trust. The Trust was established by Tauranga lawyer Denise Arnold to bring hope and opportunity to the rural poor of Cambodia, through education and community development.
It has grown to support 6000 children in 16 schools, as well as two teacher-training colleges, attracting support from some of New Zealand’s biggest names, with Theresa Gattung as its patron and Nadia Lim an ambassador.
Last year, one of the trust’s early schools, Aug Chhum Primary, was awarded the accolade of being one of the top 10 schools in the country, out of 11,200 schools.
All this has been achieved through the charity of New Zealanders who have donated time and money to the Trust.
This exhibition celebrates a rising generation of children, the transformative power of education and the gift of charity.
I want to thank you so much for the use of your exhibition space. I am not sure how to tell you how significant this exhibition was for us so please bear with me J
I have struggled for a long time to get any kind of traction or profile in Auckland, and until we met Stacey we really didn’t have quality material to promote CCT. When Stacey joined us her images brought the children to life for people who won’t see them in person. The beauty, poverty, life, joy and struggle of these children and their communities could be shared, but we needed a way to do so.
It was a hope of mine that one day we could share the images with the public and tell our story, and with your offer of the exhibition space we suddenly had a chance to do exactly that.
The exhibition has enabled us to raise our profile in Auckland significantly. It has given us an opportunity to talk on Radio NZ, a venue for two fundraising functions, somewhere to send new and existing supporters, and a platform to tell our story.
We have had a significant number of new supporters donate as a result of the exhibition. It is difficult to measure exactly how big the impact has been as we received donations when people are at the venue, but also some people donate a few days later. We cannot always know what the direct impact is but it has been significant.
Your offer was most generous and very much appreciated. It came just at the time we needed it. I believe having this opportunity to show people what CCT is doing is one of the most significant steps for CCT yet.