Abundance of Love and Happiness

I first heard of VOICE whilst sitting in a little guesthouse / restaurant called the LAZY GECKO. It was run by

an Aussie couple Barb and Ash Eason and being fellow Aussies they very quickly became part of our lives

here in Phnom Penh. As an educator I spent many hours talking to Barb about the work I was doing here

and the work she was doing with the evicted residents of Lakeside, the misplaced, the downtrodden the

street sellers the sad but joyful extended family VOICE had formed and who had become a huge part of

her and Ashes life also. I soon learned of their drive to help children affected by Thalassemia, which is

really very high here in Asia and quickly volunteered to become a regular donor.

During the time I was getting to know Barb and Ash better I also met this blonde dynamo by the name

of Kristy. She blitzed into my life and quickly stole my heart. Always on the go running from one crisis to

another, collecting donations of unwanted equipment that had been sitting in my schools storage room

for years gathering dust, checking up on the whereabouts of her “kids”, stopping quickly for a bite and

chat and then jetting out of our lives again to return to Australia and start/enhance/extend yet another

project to help VOICE help its community. She has so much passion, energy and love for this

organization and between herself, Barb, Ash, the Khmer staff and other Westerners who help in many

capacities I have been honoured to be called a friend and supporter of VOICE.

VOICE have shown me that there really are organisations who actually practice what they preach. They

give to a community, they build its capacity for self-enterprise, they provide a safe haven for the

misplaced, homeless, hungry, they help families access education and help families see beyond the

poverty cycle providing a model for children and families to see a future where they will have a home,

they will have an education they will move beyond the often appalling conditions forced on them by the

reclaiming of their land for luxury apartments.

I have seen the absolute look of joy when a child gets his first school pack, I have seen the joy of a new

mother when her baby is delivered safely and into an abundance of love and donated clothes, food and

sanitary supplies, I have seen the smile on the face of the child I have donated blood to when they can

walk and eat and breath without the constant pain and discomfort associated with their Thalassemia

and I have seen an abundance of love and happiness in a community that has very little reason to smile. I

know it is because of VOICE.

I have seen Barb and Kristy eat spiders to raise funds, I have seen them and Khmer staff working endless

hours to ensure the family in crisis is safe and sheltered before the storms of life can dent their spirits

even further but mostly I have seen love, passion, dedication and a genuine model of empowerment.

VOICE is an essential part of the lives of many; for some only a short time for others long term but the

work they do, the love they give and the change they empower in this community they have supported,

united, nurtured and given hope to is something they should be extremely proud of.

I am proud and honoured to know the organization and their families and I will continue to support in

whatever capacity I can because from so little I have seen so much grow, thrive and blossom into

something the community could never have imagined without these awesome people.

Karen McArthur

Educator

Phnom Penh

Cambodia

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