FourSquare Innovations is sponsoring Shaun Prest in his one man journey to build an orphanage in Sihanoukville, Cambodia. This is his story:
My name is Shaun Prest, a 38 year old electrician from Halifax, West Yorkshire.
I first visited Sihanoukville, Cambodia five years ago and while there I became aware of the plight of the beach children living there. One little girl in particular caught my attention. She earned her keep acting as a pair of eyes for her blind uncle who in turn scratched a living by singing songs for tourists and through begging. At the time I gave all I could, but after returning to the UK I decided to try and help in a more practical and extensive way.Last year I raised funds with a sponsored motorcycle ride across Cambodia . With this I purchased 300 colouring books and 300 felt tip pen sets took this with me along with $600.00 dollars when I set out on my journey across Cambodia in February 2009. This time I paid for everything myself including the tickets, pens and colouring books and all the other fees came out of my own pocket from money saved working back in England.
After arriving in Cambodia I first made my way to Phnom Penh and started out by making donations to the single street mums there. Then I made may way up to Siem Reap to river village and handed out colouring books and money donations to all the river houses there via a boat. On th next leg of my journey I made my way back down to Sihanoukville having completed the sponsored motorcycle trip. Here I handed out the remaining colouring books to the beach children on Ocheateal beach.
This year in april 2010 I returned to Cambodia with another load of colouring packs (600) which I took to several orphanages in Sihanoukville, whilst also going to see the homeless family I visit every year with books. This family was forcibly evicted from their homes in 2006 resulting in two of them dying and several of the children were taken off to so-called rehabilitation which in reality is prison. I spent a lot of time helping the families in April, May and June of this year. These families now live in tents and only manage to survive by sending their children out to collect empty tin cans and weighing them in in return for rice. I returned to the UK on the first of July and the following week received an email saying the family have been evicted again and are living at the side of the road in tents now.
After the Khmer Rouge were ousted in 1979 the government made a law stating that anyone who has settled and been in the same plot of land, and can prove it, then the land becomes their property by right. This was a measure taken to undo the Khmer Rouge’s seizure of land and property under Pol Pot. It is incredible that 30 years later the people of Cambodia are still being forcibly removed from their homes and land to make way for developers.
My colouring books don’t seem to be enough now so I am aiming higher and I have teamed up with a lady who has the same interests in helping the Otres beach children as myself. Together we are trying to raise funds to build an orphanage for the beach children. I am in need of any donations that you may be able to give. This is a really important cause with a chance to make a difference to a lot of people. If you can help please don’t hesitate to get in touch.
Shaun Prest August 2010
Read the Halifax Courier article on Shaun here:
Read the Huddersfield Examiner Story here:
Find the orginal article here: Cambodian Orphanage Appeal