In 2002, professional photographer Bill Smith and his wife Lauren visited Cambodia to experience and photograph the natural beauty and culture. While traveling the country by cab the couple was shocked to find the Stung Mean Chey Garbage dump, where impoverished children were forced by circumstance to work in filth and squalor for $10 a month, a sum their families could not survive without. Bill and Lauren were heartbroken by the children’s plight, and made it their mission to change their lives.
The Smith’s enrolled several children in school; covering both the cost of their education, and the money they lost by not working in the dumps. Returning home, they reached out to friends and family, who were eager to help the Smiths work to support as many children as possible.
In 2006, a Chicago Tribune article about the couple raised awareness even higher, and the Smiths received enough donations to found the charity A New Day Cambodia (ANDC). The foundation is devoted to improving the lives of young Cambodians through education. ANDC now maintains two dormitories in Phnom Penh, where impoverished and destitute children can live in peace, and grow and study with their peers. Thanks to the compassion of Bill and Lauren, children in once hopeless circumstances can now achieve their potential, and work together toward the goal of building a better Cambodia.
Be sure to watch CNN Films’ “Girl Rising” which documents extraordinary girls and the power of education to change the world on June 16, 2013 on CNN.
Photo Credit: A New Day Cambodia (Bill & Lauren Smith)