Christmas in Cambodia

Written by on December 2, 2009 in Life and Family, Notes By The Way with 4 Comments

Give a gift for kids in Cambodia

=====  UPDATE =====

The period to give has ended, but if you really want to contribute we can still find a way. Although the counter below shows $630 (31 percent raised), I also received offline donations. The real total is about $1200. My kids outdoors’ school friends also had a fundraiser that brought in about $400, and we’ll put in some money, too. We may actually come close to the $2000 mark after all. I plan to have a full report posted by the 2nd week in January. Thanks to all the donors and to those who told their friends!

===== UPDATE 2 =====

I’ve posted a full report and images of receipts here:

===== ============

Please join me in  something very special this Christmas. For the past two years I’ve been regularly visiting a community in Cambodia for children orphaned by HIV/AIDS. It’s about 50km outside of Phnom Penh. They take care of 74 kids on a very small budget, and life there is generally pretty happy.  On Christmas day I’ll be there with my wife and daughters. I’m hoping to raise $1000 between now and December 12th to bring as a gift.

Click to give safely and securely via PayPal

*** You don’t need a PayPal account. See the
Second Comment for detailed instructions. ***


Here’s what the children at Wat Opot will receive:

  • a wonderful Christmas day with lots of food, small but cherished gifts, and celebration
  • a rare super fun trip by buses to a nearby lake on one of the days just before Christmas
  • money for important ongoing needs, because the budget has been running short this year

And you will receive the knowledge that you were part of something wonderful and real. I will post a full report so you can appreciate what happened, with pictures and video, plus images of receipts accounting for all the money given.

Small gifts add up (and large gifts add up, too): $5, $25, $200…

I will pass on one hundred percent of the gifts that come through, minus only bank transfer fees. Full disclosure: I’m doing this privately, based on your trust, not as an organization. Please only give if you are comfortable with letting me handle your cash.

20090916-216-097How funds will be divided

I hope to raise at least $2000. The first $1000 will go to the Wat Opot Children’s Community as mentioned above. The other half, or the amount that comes in, will help children in Andong Village. The families in Andong Village all lost their homes in Phnom Penh in 2006, because developers took over the slum where they lived. They are among the poorest of the poor in the city. My Cambodian friend runs a local NPO that provides a school for the children and many services for their families. I will visit Andong Village several days before Christmas, and I will entrust the money to him through the NPO that he leads.

My friend in Andong Village and the director of the Wat Opot Children’s Community are leaders with integrity who I trust, and they work through registered non-profits in Cambodia with accountability.

Here are some links to earlier posts I’ve written about the children at Wat Opot and the work at Andong Village.

VinotWat Opot Children’s Community:

A poem about kids living with HIV

A photo and some background about the kids at Wat Opot

Loving means seeing (a reflection after returning frm one of my trips)

When babies die (another reflection after seeing a baby die of AIDS)

Andong Village SchoolAndong Village:

A photo story about Andong Village

A story of hope – video (the history, school, and kids at Andong)

If you have questions you can contact me by leaving a comment (I read them all and respond if needed).

You can help in a big way by spreading the word:

  • Put a link on your Facebook profile (click the “share” button at the bottom of this post and follow the steps)
  • Put a link on your blog, or tell a few friends by email (but don’t spam anyone)

Don’t feel any pressure to contribute. If you see this as an opportunity, then give wholeheartedly.


This is Nak and me. My Facebook friends might recognize this as the source of my profile picture. It’s not that I love the picture so much, but it always reminds me of the kids in Cambodia. Nak almost died of AIDS in 2006, but medicine became available just in time to save him. Now he is one of 20+ kids at Wat Opot living with HIV. (I’ll give a prize to anyone who can guess where I got the “England” hat!)


This is Kunthy, who captured my heart from the start. You can see an older picture of her in my “poem” link above.

About the Author

About the Author: Andy Gray is a writer and photographer living in Phnom Penh, Cambodia and working with Alongsiders International. You can find him puttering around the streets of Phnom Penh on his Suzuki Viva 125, running stoplights and driving on the wrong side of the road or on the sidewalks like a local. If you see him in a coffee shop, he'll be the one typing and deleting the same line over and over again. .


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  • Ruth Veerman

    Hi Andy,

    Mike and I are interested in giving, but we don’t have a paypal account and do not want to get one. Can we forward the money any other way?

  • Here are instructions how to send money for those who don’t have a PayPal account:

    1. Click on the ORANGE CHIP IN button (see above).

    2. On the top of the next page, enter an AMOUNT in the box (on the form that looks like a check). Then click the “Update Totals” button.

    3. Then on the same page look on the lower left section for the words: “Don’t have a PayPal account” and “Continue”. Click on the word “Continue”.

    4. You’ll go to a page where you can use a credit card. Just ignore the PayPal “Log In” form on the right.

    I wish PayPal made it more obvious that you don’t need an account, but, of course, they want you to sign up for one. Personally, PayPal is one of my favorite services on the web. More and more sites let me shop and make payments by PayPal, so I don’t have to enter my credit card info (great when making reservations at hotels in developing world countries for example).

  • I’ve posted receipts and a full report about Christmas in Cambodia. See the link at the top of the post. Thanks again!

  • Great photos. Thanks for your hard work for the people! Would love to visit Cambodia next time!