Action 4 Cambodia Appeal - 11th/12th February 2017



It is a year since our parish charity last made an appeal for funds in our three churches. Over the last twelve months there have been several developments that mean that we need your help more than ever. Last February I told you that we had received a request for $20,000 or £14,500 from Fr Indon, our contact at Jesuit Service Cambodia. This was to make a contribution to the payment of 8 teachers  and six librarians working in our school, ‘New Bonneys’ in Champak Sa and another primary school in the neighbouring village  of Popeil, and for working in our refurbished mobile libraries in the education of children and adults. We were also asked for funds for equipment and stationary for our new school extension, for new school uniforms, and 29 Bike Scholarships and 35 Rice Scholarships. This was a big ask, particularly after we had only paid for the school extension the year before.

I answered Fr. Indon by telling him that whilst we had most of the money he wanted we didn’t have all of it, but we would try to raise the rest in the coming months. Part of our effort to do this was last’ years appeal. We did, however, think that much more would have to be done than having just one appeal. That is where we were wrong. In one week in February we managed to raise all the extra money needed. We got near to it with the church collections, but in the following two days we received several anonymous donations from people of our three churches and as a result we were able to despatch $20,000 dollars to Jesuit Services Cambodia. An achievement in days rather than weeks. The money paid for everything asked for. As I said in my annual report in October, we are now helping to educate around 3,600 people, children and adults in Cambodia.

That is the good news, now for the rest. Since last February things have not been as good. On the  bright side, private, individual donations have remained strong and we should like to thank those who slipped us a cheque or cash amount, sometimes on a regular basis. Unfortunately, we are not raising as much as we did on our social events. The social we held in The Parish Hall at Good Shepherd in September raised £333, the lowest amount we have ever raised for such an event, and with the lowest attendance. Perhaps we are doing something wrong. Our funds in the bank have also taken a dive. This is difficult to see just by looking at our bank statements, but here comes the dreaded ‘b’ word, Brexit. All our financial transactions with Cambodia are done in US$ and with the value of the £ dropping what we can buy has dropped by 20%. Let us hope that this situation is not permanent. I informed Fr. Indon of this in the hope that he would not ask us for something we couldn’t afford. I told him that I would get back to him by the end of this month. So what am I appealing for this morning/tonight? As with most appeals there will be a retiring collection at the end of Mass, but we have got to appreciate that we may need to watch our own situations as the problems affecting our charity are also affecting our own bank accounts. I tried to get this over to Fr.  Indon but found it difficult and didn’t want to labour the point as we remain one of the richest countries in the world and the people we are helping have nothing to put in a bank account.

Things, however, are far from gloomy. Last year a major part of our fund went on Bike and Rice Scholarships. This directly paid for the education of 64 children. We already have the money for them to continue their education for another year, and for several more if we are asked. We also have money to help pay for the teachers and the librarians, so hopefully we can continue to play a major part in the education of 3,600 people in Cambodia. So far we have not been asked to support any new major project. So yes, if you can support our charity financially, fine, but we understand that it isn’t a good time for us to be making this appeal…….BUT there are many other ways you can help.

When we reviewed our last social event we decided that we were not offering what people wanted. So we are appealing for your ideas, ways for large or small numbers of people to raise money. You may also want to organise something yourself with your own friends and family. We used to have a supporter who organised coffee mornings and regularly made a donation to us. Things like that are great and keep people in their own comfort zones. We want to hear from you.

Two years ago Mavis Deeney did a parachute jump to celebrate her eightieth birthday. Perhaps you have ideas about sponsored events. We want to hear from you.

Our charity is in its eleventh year. It was set up to bring the two parishes of St. Alban’s and Good Shepherd together as one parish and to benefit a community in need somewhere else in the world. Now we are in a similar situation again. We now know that with the re-structuring of parishes Holy Souls will be joining the party, and our charity is there to help us get together. In the next few days we will be asking for one or two people from Holy Souls to join our committee. We want to hear from them.

But there is another way we can help, and I have already made a commitment to Fr Indon on your behalf. One constant request from Cambodia over the last eleven years has been for prayers. We have  our own prayer based on the prayer to the Good Shepherd, which has been said over many years at Good Shepherd,  but any prayer will do. Jesus told us to ask, to pray……and he wants to hear from you.

Finally, as supporters of Jesuit Service Cambodia we are part of a greater group from all over the world that last year raised $2,322.006. All our efforts are channelled around Champak Sa, near Siem Reap. Jesuit Service provided that area with 12 houses for 12 families, monetary loans for 29 farming families,  26 senior college/university grants for poor and disabled students, planted 790 trees, built a toilet for 7 disabled people, Ran and maintained 3 schools and 1 mini school, provided 29 Bike Scholarships and 35 Rice Scholarships, bought 63 school uniforms, paid the wages of 8 teachers and 6 librarians, supplied 89 wheelchairs, paid for the medical care of 17 people, provided school materials for 1154 pupils and built a pond and a well for a village………..your help is in there somewhere. Thank you for all you have done, this is not just an appeal for money, it is an appeal for yourself. How can you support and give yourself. We want to hear from you……Thank you.