Brief charity stint still going strong

VOLUNTEERING for a non- government organisation was meant to be a six-month adventure for Peter Gray.

Almost nine years later, the president of the Australian Cambodian Children's Taskforce is still working to help Cambodian children affected by violence, sexual abuse, trafficking, exploitation, drug abuse and the impact of HIV/AIDS.

Several thousand dollars raised by Next GeneRations founder Vratka Pokorna was delivered to the charity's Centre for Child Development in Phnom Penh.

The Tasmanian woman's generosity compelled Mr Gray to visit the state to talk to Rotary groups in a campaign for further funding.

The former Australian Army serviceman and current president of Phnom Penh Rotary was travelling through south-east Asia in 2005 when he visited Cambodia. Working for Cambodian Children Against Starvation and Violence inspired Mr Gray to move to the nation to continue his work.

"What I saw there stunned me," Mr Gray said.

Children are brought to the centre when organisers hear of abuse or traffickers. Once arrived, children are medically checked, counselled and, eventually, sent to school.

"There are some great stories," Mr Gray said.

One girl entered the centre when she was aged about 10. Now 19, she recently visited its workers to tell them she was studying social work to help children in slums.

"If you're not in it for the kids, you're not in it," the man known as Papa Peter said.

"It's the easiest thing in the world to do when I see kids in this state."

Rotary Club of Longford has raised several thousand dollars to add an extra 16 beds to the accommodation currently housing 50 children.

"We want 12 months of funding in the bank," Mr Gray said.

To assist Mr Gray's fund-raising efforts visit Donations are tax deductible.

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