Robbins Supports Impoverished CambodiansIn Cambodia, 17.8% of the population lived below the poverty line in 2019. That is why famous author, philanthropist and life coach Tony Robbins supports the Cambodian Children’s Fund (CCF), a nonprofit organization addressing child poverty. Robbins raised $68,000 for CCF through the Tony Robbins Foundation while also personally matching the donation amount for a total of $136,000.

Poverty in Cambodia

Below are some key facts about poverty in Cambodia.

  • Crises and emergencies. The global financial crisis led to increased commodity prices in 2008-2009. Other examples include natural disasters such as floods that destroy crops. Floods are more likely to occur in Cambodia due to its unique hydrologic regime and low coverage of water management infrastructure.
  • Food insecurity. In Cambodia, approximately 1.7 million individuals are food insecure. Malnutrition is also an issue that hinders cognitive development, reducing life opportunities and impacting economic growth.
  • Seasonal employment. Food insecurity results in low demand for agricultural labor and unemployed farmers during the off-season.
  • Health shocks. Poor households can become trapped in a cycle of paying high health care costs, resulting in more poverty.

Creating the CCF

After visiting Cambodia in 2004, founder and executive director Scott Neeson left the film industry to set up the CCF. Neeson paid for the start-up costs entirely out of his own pocket, initially planning for the CCF to help only a handful of children. However, the organization now educates approximately 1,900 children living in impoverished areas of Cambodia and supports families through community-based projects. Overall, the CCF aims to promote long-lasting, generational change by working in direct contact with at-risk children and their families and communities to create responsive approaches to extreme poverty.

A New Addition to the Team

Tony Robbins, an American author, coach and speaker, is not unfamiliar with helping people out of poverty. In 1991, Robbins founded the Tony Robbins Foundation, a nonprofit organization working to empower individuals and organizations to create positive change in the lives of the marginalized, such as the hungry and the homeless.

With similar goals in mind, the Tony Robbins foundation and the CCF formed a partnership in 2008. As part of that partnership, Robbins supports impoverished Cambodians by inviting a group of about 10 CCF Leadership students to attend the Tony Robbins Global Youth Leadership Summit (GYLS) in San Francisco each year.

In 2019, the CCF hosted the Platinum Partners from the Tony Robbins Foundation, who were able to get to know the Leadership students they support by visiting and volunteering in communities and schools. “The visit by Tony Robbins Platinum Partners last week provided a day of mutual inspiration, with Tony’s group spreading their passion and encouragement and our CCF youth presenting the CCF model and how it has changed their life journey,” remarked Neeson. Robbins supports impoverished Cambodians through encouraging in-person visits that work to inspire Cambodian children.

During the visit to the CCF in 2019, the Tony Robbins Foundation presented a $68,000 check to help the CCF build up the future leaders of Cambodia. Later, after the trip to the CFF, Tony Robbins posted on his Facebook page, “I’m so proud of my Platinum Partners… they don’t know this, but I’m going to MATCH their donation of $68k. So, Scott, you’ll have $136,000 for the kids shortly!”

A Look Ahead

Ultimately, Robbins supports impoverished Cambodians through his kind spirit and generosity, which will go a long way toward ensuring that children in Cambodia will have equal opportunities irrespective of their financial status. More broadly, Robbins’ and the CCF’s work provide a glimmer of hope for the future of Cambodia.

Sarah DiLuzio
Photo: Flickr

Child Poverty in Cambodia
A shocking 30% of the Cambodian population lives under the poverty line, affecting children most of all. The under-5 mortality rate in Cambodia sits at 25% due to the extreme poverty they live in. Here is some information about child poverty in Cambodia.

Malnutrition and Education

Children in Cambodia face malnutrition from conception due to many women experiencing malnourishment while pregnant. Malnutrition occurs when women do not have the right care during their pregnancy. Limited resources in Cambodia contribute to the issue of women not being able to obtain the necessary care to stay healthy during pregnancy. This absence of nutrition does not end once children are born either. If a baby does not receive post-natal care or proper nutrition in the first couple of months, it can lead to stunting in growth or even death.

On top of that, more than 10% of Cambodian children currently do not go to school. Instead of getting a substantial education, around 45% of children aged 5 to 14 partake in labor instead. Though the situation appears dismal for the children of Cambodia, people across the globe are working on solving common problems circling child poverty in Cambodia.

Human Trafficking

Human trafficking has intimate ties to poverty in Cambodia. The four main factors that lead to human trafficking today include mass displacement, conflict, extreme poverty and lack of access to education and jobs. It is extremely common for parents to sell their children to human traffickers or for traffickers to lure children with the prospect of a legitimate job, only for them to enter prostitution. When short on money to provide for their families, parents may sell their daughters’ virginity, as it can give them up to 20 times their household average income a week.

The Rapha House is an organization dedicated to rehabilitating young girls after rescuing them from human trafficking. It started in 2003 after the founder spoke to Cambodian leaders about the threat of human trafficking to Cambodian girls. The organization opened two houses in Cambodia: Battambang and Siem Rep. Each aftercare campus gives child survivors of slavery and sexual exploitation the chance to reclaim their lost childhood. Survivors are treated with love and value instead of abuse and neglect. Volunteers at the houses teach morals and self-love to these girls daily, in hopes of healing them from their trauma.

Educating Children

Though the initial percentages of student enrollment in Cambodia were low, presence in the classroom is rising significantly. The number of children enrolling in primary education increased to more than 97% during the 2017-2018 school year. Enrollment had limitations prior due to the need for manual labor in family businesses. Children worked with, or for, their parents to help earn a livable income.

ChildFund has been working on improving education in Cambodia through fundraising since 2007 and has no plans to stop any time soon. Its official website says that helping children living in poverty fulfill their potential through education is one of its top priorities in the country of Cambodia. The funds raised go directly to helping eliminate child poverty in Cambodia allowing donors to sponsor a child and help pay for their education. Education is key in ending the cycle of poverty. Once people learn essential skills, they can go on to get better jobs and make more money.

Helping the Hungry

The national prevalence of under-5 stunting is 32.4%, which is greater than the developing country average of 25% according to the Global Nutrition Report. Cambodia also struggles with an under-5 wasting prevalence of 9.8%, which surpasses the normal developing country average significantly. Malnutrition in children and their mothers during pregnancy causes this stunting. Child poverty in Cambodia often occurs when children lack the proper amount of food per day to remain healthy. If their bodies have no nutrition, they will not have the energy to grow, causing growth stunts.

Action Against Hunger, an activist group aiming to improve all-around nutrition on a global level, has been taking strides to lower Cambodia’s under-5 statistics. Over the course of 2019, the organization created 5,310 community groups focused on increasing food security through rice banks, farming and home gardens. It also helped 7,139 people reach nutrition and health programs and 6,278 people gain access to food security programs. Action Against Hunger says that it has helped 15,744 people total in Cambodia during 2019.

Alleviating child poverty in Cambodia requires more work, but these organizations show that it is possible to improve the situation. Rapha House, ChildFund and Action Against Hunger are all taking huge steps to help eliminate child poverty in Cambodia whether it be through donations, fieldwork or volunteering.

– Kendall Little
Photo: Flickr