I’m stuck in the Radisson Hotel at Narita Airport after 14 hours flying from LA including 3 hours on the runway cleaning up spilled gas (complete with fire engines, police cars, flashing lights, etc.) So, Ken Martin, and I missed our flight to Bangkok and will probably miss our flight later today to Phnom Penh, Cambodia.
Sometimes I’m asked why go thru it all after 50 years filming and speaking abroad (not including the 35 day Amazing Race around the world.) It’s easy to explain this trip.
In Phnom Penh there are 62 amazing orphans and vulnerable children waiting to put on a party for Ken Martin and me complete with native food, beautifully costumed dances, and a chance to get better acquainted with these very special kids (including orphans whose parents died from AIDS and especially vulnerable children rescued from homes where they are abused and even sold for sex.)
Our friend, Chris Merritt, a long time Soulforce activist joined us first in 1999 at the nonviolent action in Lynchburg against the false and inflammatory rhetoric of Jerry Falwell. Chris, on a trip around the world, discovered the New Future for Children Home for Orphans and Vulnerable Children and volunteered to help the local staff recover from the sudden horror that their director was a pedophile, arrested, tried and imprisoned.
Chris has administrative gifts and the local board and staff asked him to stay on “for awhile.” Almost two years later, Chris not only teaches English and media skills, he is the primary advisor to the young Cambodians in charge.
Discovering early on that the New Future for Children had no national or international organizations paying the bills, Chris went to work raising the $6,000 plus required to feed, clothe, house, educate and transport the 62 children. Imagine it. All that for just over $3 a day per child.
Unfortunately, Chris’s pension ran dry and he’s now living primarily on the $500 a month Gary and I send. We’re also paying from our pension funds to help make up the $6,000 plus needed every month.
Ken Martin, the MCC Elder for S.E. Asia, and I are here to strategize with Chris on ways he might raise the necessary funds to keep the New Future for Children up and running. I’m going to create a power point and show it to anyone who might like to volunteer time or money or in kind necessities upon our return to the US. If you’ld like to see it, I’ll send it by email.
Know this, Gary and I both believe in Soulforce and are regular donors to keep SF up and running. We give to our local church and to various local and national organizations we find worthy. Taking on the NFC has to be over and above all that. But these amazing children and youth in Phnom Penh have nothing but their hopes and dreams. There’s nothing more exciting for Gary and me to think that we are helping them see their hopes and dreams realized. Besides we’ve spent most of our time and money on LGBTQ related causes. It feels good to reach out as a gay couple to help someone else in need. There are a billion people starving thanks to this world wide financial meltdown. We can’t feed them all but there are 62 kids in Phnom Penh that we have grown to love whom we can help in our small way.