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Sue Morgan and SHAC Director, San
Somaly. Aly's wearing a St Paul's
Changing the fabric of my story
BY SUZANNE MORGAN
Aurora invited former principal of St
Joseph's Primary East Maitland, Suzanne
Morgan, to share some of her experiences
working for the welfare of children in Siem
Twelve months ago I left the security of
a job I loved to commit to the unknown.
Having shared a great passion for social
justice in third world countries with my
husband Brian, I felt that I was being
called to a more authentic Gospel
I commenced my venture attracted to
the ethos and commitment of a school in
Siem Reap established in the backyard of
a Christian Khmer woman, San Somaly
(Aly). This amazing woman overcame
poverty through studying and hard work
to eventually become the Director of
Western International School. Aly left this
comfortable position to establish, in her
backyard, a school for the poor of her
community. Her school's called Smiling
Hearts Association for Children (SHAC).
Currently she has 200 children enrolled.
One hundred attend school in the morning
and the other half in the afternoon. She
relies on volunteers and donations to keep
the school running. I began as a volunteer
there and soon became very attached to
the staff and students. My fundraising to
support this school and other interests
began to gain momentum.
To legitimise my work I established a
not-for-profit association called Schools,
Immersion, Mission (SIM's) Cambodia
Inc. My accountant, Amanda, from
Gascoigne Consulting East Maitland,
voluntarily waded through the plethora of
paperwork to identify the best possible
option and funded my registration as a
business. SIM's Cambodia Inc aims to
provide support for schools, half-way
houses and individuals struggling to
gain independence in one of the most
impoverished countries in the world.
Some Catholic schools in the Diocese
of Maitland-Newcastle had generously
donated resources and school uniform
items for use in Cambodia. This led to
my approaching Lowes who jumped at
the opportunity to have their superseded
stock put to good use. To date, Lowes
has delivered 30 cartons of uniform items
to be taken to Cambodia. I transport these
items in my luggage and hand deliver
them where needed.
I have recently been involved in a nutrition
program at SHAC. Aly identified ten
students who were malnourished and
we commenced a Spirulina program. We
started with BMIs and percentile rankings
for the students and introduced 2-3g of
Spirulina per day into their diets. Imagine
my delight to find that most students, after
just one month on Spirulina, had improved.
SIM's Cambodia has funded 2 months
supply of Spirulina and will continue to
monitor the children. It is my hope that we
can place more children on the program in
the future with continued funding.
On my most recent trip I had the honour of
accompanying the guesthouse manager,
Soma, to an isolated village in the depths
of the jungle. Soma does a food and
medical supply run every 3-4 months and
invited me to accompany her, with about
ten others. I jumped at the opportunity
and over three hours later, travelling in the
back of a dual cab ute laden with supplies,
we arrived at a small, impoverished village
in the heart of the jungle. Soma also gave
each villager 1000 Riel (about 25 cents),
bread rolls, medication, biscuits and soap.
Soma requires blankets and supplies for
her next trip so I hope to provide funding
through SIM's Cambodia Inc to purchase
these items in Siem Reap. I will also deliver
over 80kg of Lowes goodies in January
Another very worthy program I am
involved with is Stepping Out Cambodia,
which is run by a young woman from
Wellington NSW. Clare Holman has given
her life to assist very vulnerable, young
Khmer men who have left the orphanage.
She helps them adjust to life in town,
very different from life at the orphanage,
and supports them into further study
and careers. She also supports the
village around the orphanage and offers
friendship to many impoverished families.
SIM's Cambodia has recently purchased
a generator for the half-way house and
I support the boys by teaching English
lessons at night.
Soon Brian and I will welcome the Director
of SHAC, Aly, and her daughter Lucy,
on an Australian visit. Aly will share her
inspirational story with others on Monday
16 September at the chapel at Our Lady of
Lourdes Primary, Anderson Drive, Tarro at
7pm. All are welcome. She also hopes to
visit Catholic schools that have supported
SHAC in some way.
Twelve months on I feel so honoured to
be part of a living, breathing Gospel. I've
had the opportunity to branch out into
areas I could never have dreamed would
become the fabric of my story. SIM's
Cambodia has reroofed SHAC, supported
a young man towards independence in
business, provided resources, nutritional
supplements, fruit runs, furniture and
clothing to schools, orphanages and the
half-way house. Without the generosity
of schools and individuals in our diocese,
none of this would have been possible.
I am constantly humbled and amazed
by the support provided to me and very
grateful for being in a position where I
can so actively respond to the Gospel. To
literally live 'clothing the naked....feeding
the hungry...and liberating people through
education' is such an honour.
SIM's Cambodia ABN: 24545532659.
Donations to SIM's Cambodia can
be made through the Commonwealth
Bank, BSB: 062-807 Ac: 10292449 Acc
Title: SIM's Cambodia Inc. Please visit
To read Eulalia Angeli's story about a
school changing lives in Papua New
Guinea, visit www.catholic.edu.au.
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