Skills sharing

Helping break the cycle of poverty in Cambodia

26 May 2020

It’s not every day someone gives up a prestigious, comfortable life in Hollywood for the slums of Cambodia. But after seeing hundreds of children living and working on a garbage dump in Phnom Penh, Scott Neeson could never settle back into the glitz and glamour of Tinseltown.

Instead, he set up the Cambodian Children’s Fund (CCF) to help children in Phnom Penh by providing education, family support and community programs.

Since 2004, the charity has grown from a one-man operation to a sophisticated, award-winning organisation. It brings quality education to over 2,000 students across 12 campuses, while providing 460 homes to families and 45 tons of rice each year to the community.

But it is the focus on education that has helped children break the generational cycle of poverty in Cambodia.

“The majority of parents in these communities are illiterate,” says Greg Hides, Senior Manager at Macquarie in Singapore. “Giving children access to a proper education is quite literally life changing, and provides a path to bring the whole family out of poverty.”

In 2019, Macquarie donated vital IT equipment for use in CCF’s head office, community and medical centres, libraries, and residential facilities used by the children.

“We tested, sanitised and reinstalled Windows on all PCs and laptops, secured import licenses and engaged shipping companies and customs agents. In total the equipment donated filled half a shipping container with 168 PCs, over 200 monitors, network switches, printers, boxes of cables, keyboards, headsets and other accessories,” says Greg.

With a small team of Macquarie volunteers, Greg then headed over to Cambodia to set everything up. By upgrading the oldest PCs in the most needed facilities, Macquarie visibly improved the experience of staff and children at CCF.

“We upgraded over a quarter of CCF’s computers, many of which were almost 20 years old! Children about to graduate high school and start university will use the donated laptops. Having a laptop for university is something many of us take for granted, but for these children it is a rare commodity, and will have a significant impact on their education,” Greg says.