I’ve been writing and rewriting this email for a couple of weeks now, so please forgive me for not being very polished as this has been a very hard decision to make.
I’m stepping down as managing director of Riverkids until the end of this year, and Riverkids will need your help while I'm gone.
Our biggest need right now is feeding the 600 plus children that we care for in Cambodia. You can help for as little as US$9 to feed a child.
Why am I leaving?
Last November, my youngest daughter was born ten weeks early and tiny. After heart surgery and fifty days in the hospital, she came home. While juggling work at Riverkids and a newborn was intense, it was possible thanks to the amazing teams in Singapore and Cambodia.
Then one morning, I woke up with a happy baby with a mild cold and went to sleep at the bottom of her hospital bed in the intensive care unit where she was fighting to breathe as her lungs had collapsed.
The next two weeks were a blur, but Maggie is now home and healthier. She needs more care than most babies, and if she gets sick, she gets very sick fast.
What will happen to Riverkids?
Our day-to-day work in Cambodia is managed by the fantastic Phy Sophon and his team. In Singapore, Elaine Woon and Florence Chea are working with volunteers here and all over the world to raise funds and develop programs.
Most of my daily tasks have already been handed over to other staff and volunteers (although we would love more volunteers, always!) and while I'm home with Maggie, I'll still be involved as one of the board of directors.
How you can feed a hungry child
But I did – and will do next year – a lot of fundraising for Riverkids. I’d like to ask for your help now because I am just plain worried about our food programme. We've got 22 percent of this year's budget pledged. Can you help us get that closer to 100 percent so we can keep our food programme going too?
We feed a lot of hungry children in Cambodia. Breakfasts and lunches, snacks, milk for toddlers, fruit for little kids – food that they just won’t get if we can’t raise the US$64,000 a year it costs to feed more than 600 children. It’s not fancy food. It’s rice and eggs, sandwiches, pork stew with vegetables, bananas and oranges. It’s the kind of food you dish out from a huge pot so the hungry kids can have a second bowl before they go home.
Getting 30% more for free
And Global Giving, because they are awesome, will match what people donate with an extra 30 percent if we can meet a goal of US$5,000 this month. That means if you give us US$100, you're effectively giving us US$130. That extra US$30 means three more children fed that month!
I know what it's like to watch your own baby go hungry. Maggie was born tiny, and she struggled to put on weight. It's terrifying weighing your baby and hoping for a few more grams, that her ribs won't show, that she's not slowly starving, her brain starving -- and then I think of the kids in Cambodia who don't have doctors looking after them, who can't switch formulas because they're getting whatever is cheapest at the market, and their mums can't nurse them because they're standing in a park all night, hoping the police don't harass them, hoping they earn enough with their bodies to feed their hungry baby while their breasts ache with milk.
US$9 is all it takes
It hurts thinking about children going hungry. I know we can feed some of them at Riverkids. It's about US$9 a month for each child in our care.
When Maggie is finally strong enough, her first overseas trip will be to Cambodia with her big brothers and sisters. I want her to meet her family by adoption, and the country that's given us so much joy. I want to bring her to Riverkids to meet the other little boys and girls there, the ones loved just as much by their families, and to know that those kids got milk and food and a safe place to sleep, just like she did.
(Donations through Global Giving are tax-deductible in the U.S. and could be matched 30%, but you can also give directly online or by cheque in Singapore. For our Donations page, click here)
Thank you for all you've done. Thank you for making Riverkids a safe place for so many children. I can't wait to come back next year and see how much further Riverkids has grown!
Until next year,
P.S. Volunteer with us too! We have volunteers from all over the world, some working online, some at our office in Singapore and some in the field in Cambodia. A couple of hours a month to six months in Phnom Penh - you can do amazing things at Riverkids with us. You can email Florence at email@example.com
to find out more.