Char­ity fo­cused on get­ting slum chil­dren into school

Central Leader - - FRONT PAGE - By TOM CARNEGIE

NI­COLA and Graeme Winthrop are about to go on an ex­tra­or­di­nary Cam­bo­dian ad­ven­ture with their five chil­dren.

The One­hunga res­i­dents con­sider them­selves fairly typ­i­cal. But af­ter a hol­i­day to Cam­bo­dia ear­lier this year they have de­cided to pack up their lives and move to the South-East Asian na­tion.

The Winthrops were on hol­i­day in Cam­bo­dia with their three youngest chil- dren, Josh, 14, Na­dia, 10 and Theo, 7, and had the op­por­tu­nity to visit a char­ity, the Bong Paoun Pro­ject.

The char­ity in­vited Graeme to be its di­rec­tor and the fam­ily de­cided to take the plunge.

‘‘The char­ity is a pro­ject work­ing with slum-dwelling chil­dren.

‘‘These pri­mary-aged kids beg, sift through garbage, or are sold for their fam­i­lies just to scrape by.

‘‘The pro­ject helps get the poor­est of these chil­dren into school, and con­nects with the fam­i­lies help­ing them to find some way out of their dire cir­cum­stances, ba­si­cally break­ing the cy­cle of poverty,’’ Ni­cola says.

She says the char­ity does a lot more than get­ting chil­dren into school.

‘‘It is about giv­ing them a fu­ture, help­ing their fam­i­lies find a way out of poverty and chang­ing a gen­er­a­tion in a coun­try which has been rav­aged by war.’’

Ni­cola, a per­sonal trainer, and Graeme, an elec­tri­cal engi­neer, say what they are do­ing may sound crazy to some but they do have some idea about what they are get­ting into.

‘‘We have worked, among other things, with the re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion of sur­vivors of hu­man traf­fick­ing, il­lit­er­ate mi­grants and pros­ti­tutes be­fore.

‘‘It has been over a 12-year span in China, Viet­nam and Laos.’’

The Winthrop chil­dren will be at­tend­ing an in­ter­na­tional school in Cam­bo­dia. Ni­cola says her chil­dren are sad to be leav­ing their friends in New Zealand but are ex­cited to help at the Bong Paoun Pro­ject.

They are not tak­ing all of their house­hold pos­ses­sions with them – only a few things of sen­ti­men­tal value.

The fam­ily leaves in five weeks and is hold­ing a fundrais­ing event on July 2 to raise money for the move and the char­ity.

The Winthrops will be auc­tion­ing do­nated items from lo­cal busi­nesses. The pro­ject helps get the poor­est of these chil­dren into school, and con­nects with the fam­i­lies, help­ing them to find some way out of their dire cir­cum­stances, ba­si­cally break­ing the cy­cle of poverty

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