Cambodia's Hope draws accomplished volunteers

-A A +A
By Carol A. Clark

Local engineer and worldwide mountaineer Chris Horley has joined a growing number of volunteers contributing their expertise to Cambodia’s Hope, a nonprofit organization for orphans.

“Given the development of so many different projects as we grow, there are plenty of needs to be met so we have been developing a volunteer program over the last 18 months,” co-founder Marvel Kellogg said.

Horley is an accomplished photographer and film maker, Marvel said, and the idea came together for him to travel to Cambodia with her husband Terry Kellogg to spend several weeks filming the orphaned children.

“Chris put together a DVD for our public relations activities,” she said. “He has never traveled in this fashion before, although having been to most continents to seek high peaks, he had never truly faced the desperate poverty of a place before, especially through the eyes of children.”

“I shot about four hours of video,” Horley said. “Some of the video will be on the website at www.cambodiashope.org and some will be used to support fundraising activities.”

Horley is a mechanical engineer who works on satellite designs and has worked at Los Alamos National Laboratory for 25 years.

“I had an intent in seeing Cambodia and the recovery from all the turmoil they've gone through in the last half century,” Horley said.

“The United States is partly responsible for what happened over there in terms of supporting the Khmer Rouge getting into power through the bombing we did. Cambodians have suffered a lot so it's great to see people like Terry and Marvel and others in the U.S. helping out over there in a non-sectarian way.”

Horley described the Cambodian people as warm and friendly to foreigners. “They didn't appear to harbor any animosity,” he said.

The pace of Horley's visit was non-stop set by his arrival the first day when he and Terry took the children on a boat ride, to a restaurant, visited a department store and stopped for ice cream.

The older children take care of the younger children, which are well behaved and happy, Horley said. The children take classes both at the orphanage and at nearby public schools.

“The kids aren't required to leave the orphanage at any certain age,” he said, but they are expected to help out once they get out working because the intent is for it to become self-sufficient.”

During his trip, Horley also visited Angkor Wat, one of the man-made travel wonders of the world. He encourages others to visit Cambodia.

It’s relatively inexpensive at $15-$20 a night for hotels, he said, and the food is good and inexpensive as well.

Horley intends to stay involved with the Kelloggs and helping out with their efforts, he said.

Marvel and Terry Kellogg founded Cambodia’s Hope following long careers in family systems therapy. They left their Los Alamos home in 1999 and traveled to Cambodia to adopt then 2-and-a-half-year-old Sopahn.

Terry returned to Phnom Penh, the capital of Cambodia, in 2003 to visit the Palm Tree and Cham Chou orphanages. He was seeking news of his daughter's birth parents but instead found desperate situations at the orphanages.

The Kelloggs explain that because of the U.S. Department of State's moratorium on adoptions, funding was inadequate. The orphanages were scrambling for money to buy food, Marvel said. There were no extras and not enough of the basics, Terry said.

Together with family and friends, Terry and Marvel formed their 501.c.3 charitable organization in 2003.

Initially, Cambodia's Hope provided funds to increase food budgets, learning and outings for the children, Marvel said, and has evolved to care for and provide education for 93 children at the Palm Tree Orphanage. Land was purchased in 2005 for farming.

“Cambodia’s Hope is primarily interested in creating a safe living space for these children, and providing them with good nutrition, education, love and security,” Marvel said. “Until they are ready to become employed and independent, we will care for them and support them. Cambodia's Hope will supplement their learning with programs and with opportunities to become self-sufficient so that they can become leaders who will not forget where they have come from, who will reach back to their own roots and forge a new Cambodia.”

Each December the Kelloggs host a special holiday bazaar fundraiser filled with exotic items from Cambodia in which 100 percent of the proceeds go to Cambodia's Hope, Marvel said.

As word of the Kellogg’s work continues to spread, people step forward not only to volunteer but to provide financial contributions.

LANL employees can now designate Cambodia’s Hope on their United Way gifting by listing the organization and its address: Cambodia’s Hope, 199 San Ildefonso Road, Los Alamos, NM 87544.