Green Gecko Annual Report 2013

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green gecko project where kids can be kids and dreams can come true

annual report 2013

green gecko project Gecko in a snapshot... The Green Gecko Project supports over 90 children and their families who previously lived and begged on the streets of Siem Reap, Cambodia. Green Gecko provides security, education, love and opportunities to these children through their formative years and into their adult lives, empowering them to reach their full potential. Our holistic approach involves working with the children's families to help break the begging cycle by providing long term social and health care as well as education and training initiatives. At Green Gecko, we also support the broader community by collaborating in not-for-profit social enterprises that offer vocational training and employment opportunities for vulnerable and disadvantaged groups including women and young adults.

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...and in more detail! 04

Did we do it? Goals achieved


Kids giving back Gecko Action


Green Gecko Our projects


Growing our own food Footprints Farm


Broadening horizons Gecko activities


Investing in our families Outreach program




Investing in our crew


Proud moments



Fun times

Where the money goes Gecko financials


Tiger Club Day centre for siblings


Recognition and support Gecko gratitude


Spreading their wings Young adult program


Setting goals for 2014


Our future How to get involved

Annual Report 2013 | 3

2013 goals achieved Did we do it? Yes we did! Reflecting on our goals for the past year is an important part of monitoring and evaluation at Green Gecko, to make sure we are heading in the right direction and achieving what we set out to do. Here is our checklist of major goals (from last year’s annual report) along with an update on where we are at with them and what we have achieved so far…

Scholarships for our siblings Our main goal for 2013 was maximising the role of our new Family Supporters to reach out to the Gecko siblings, focusing on their education and well being. It was our ultimate goal to enrol every Gecko sibling of primary school age into formal education and we are very proud to announce that goal was 100% achieved!

Our littlest Geckos roar at Tiger Club Simply enrolling children into school is not enough, from experience we know a holistic approach is needed if we are to see lasting results. Encouragement, help with homework, working on their behaviour, fine motor skills, manners and hygiene... just as we have provided for the Geckos. In July 2013 we were proud to announce that we realised this dream by undertaking the mammoth task of setting up setting up Tiger Club, an after school program at our outreach centre that provides care, social support, education and homework help to 28 of our Gecko’s younger siblings.

Work experience for our teens Our Gecko teens are quickly growing into young adults, and starting to think about careers, future goals and their next big steps. One of our goals for 2013 was to create opportunities for them to explore their options and gain work experience in the real world. We achieved that attending our very first Careers Expo, meeting with tertiary educators, trainers and employers, and inviting successful young Khmer professionals to speak with our young adults, as mentors and role models. Placements at leading hotels, restaurants and businesses across Siem Reap also kick-started our work experience program

Footprints Farm feeds and thrives In 2013 we aimed to launch our very own food farm to create a safe and protected environment for the kids to explore, interact and learn about nature and selfsufficiency... and we did! Within months we produced enough lettuce to feed a meal for 100 and throughout the year, many delicious mangoes, bananas and coconuts were collected and consumed as well as small crops of tomatoes, eggplants, morning glory and bushes of chillies and herbs. Proud new arrivals to the farm include little piggies, ducks, chickens and fish.

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Annual Report 2013 | 5

our projects Growing as our kids do... Moving with the times and meeting needs as they arise has always been one of Gecko’s greatest attributes. Over the years, we found as our kids grew, we needed to grow with them too. We now have nine projects of varying size and commitment under our Gecko paw! From little kids, big kids and young adults to healthy food, families, humanitarian youth groups and social enterprises… we’re doing our best to share the Gecko love.

Gecko Central When most people think of Gecko, they’re thinking of Gecko Central… it’s where most of the action happens. It’s the place where our Geckos live, laugh and learn, where Mum Gecko answers her emails and where all our delicious meals are cooked. It is our school, our office and our home. It’s where the kids can be kids and their dreams can come true!

Young Adults Program Our kids are growing up faster than we can keep up! High school graduations, vocational training, resume writing, work experience; it’s all happening for our eldest Geckos. Year 12 is moving too quickly, uni applications are being filled out, and boarding options in cities further away are being explored. It’s a time for big changes and a few tears (from mum) to be sure!

Tiger Club day centre ROARS… of laughter and screams of delight, that is what you will hear around corner from Gecko Central. The reason… Tiger Club – our new day centre for the little sisters and brothers of our Geckos. Showers, food, naps and classes all happen in a busy afternoon and the best thing of all… the gigantic smiles on their faces when you walk through the gate.

Gecko Action - our humanitarian youth group Inspired by Rotary’s youth group, Rotaract, the older Geckos decided that it was time to help others in their community. Together they have created Gecko Action and every week you will find them gathered, buzzing with their new ideas for fundraising and assisting. So far sausages have sizzled, temples tidied, students supplied and families fed. What a great start! 6 | Green Gecko Project

Footprints Farm Our land of coconut trees and tropical plants is now a flourishing farm of various vegetables, fruits and roaming animals. Big bowls of lettuce and tomatoes have caused oohs and aahs in our lunch huts. Not only that, it’s a fabulous way for the kids to stay grounded and learn how to grow food without nasty chemicals!

Grace Gecko Vocational Centre for Women Joining forces with another amazing NGO, Grace House Community Centre, Grace Gecko is giving hope and skills to vulnerable women. Our mothers are beautiful women, who with support can provide for their family. Alongside Grace House mums, our Gecko mums are learning the latest weaving techniques and creating everything from bags to hammocks, using the best natural materials and under fair working conditions.

Silk Screen Printing Lab social enterprise A collaboration between three amazing ventures… Green Gecko Project, Route 6 Cambodia and the Silk Screen Lab, the Silk Screen Printing Lab is Green Gecko’s latest social enterprise. Not only are we producing quality t-shirts for Siem Reap and abroad, we are delivering fun and creative one-off workshops for local Khmer children, visitors and expats.

Outreach and family support We’re not just busy inside Gecko Central; it is just as busy outside, too! Supporting 32 families, Gecko Outreach helps our mums and dads break the cycle of poverty through microbusinesses, vocational training programs and holistic social support, as well as providing weekly nutrition packs of fresh meat, veggies and rice and essential medical care.

Gecko Gift Shop Need a gift? Look no further than our onsite and online Gecko Gift Shop. From cookbooks to t-shirts (printed of course by our Silk Screen Printing Lab), gift certificates to locally made kramas and recycled key rings to wooden sculptures (both made by our parents), you will always find a wonderful gift or memento at our Gecko Gift Shop. Every dollar spent goes directly to Green Gecko! Annual Report 2013 | 7

broadening horizons Gecko activities In addition to Khmer school and English classes, the Gecko kids expand their awareness of the world around them and enrich their educational experiences through our Gecko activities. Activity classes are based around creative and educational themes which create connections between the skills, experience and knowledge of our Khmer teaching staff, our western volunteers and the children. Some of our Gecko activity classes include Khmer Library, English Library, Computers, Me and My Planet, Expressive Arts, Khmer Literacy, Logic and Creative Fridays e.g.: cooking, sewing, Bokator Martial Arts and music.

‘Me and My Planet’ themes in 2012 included:

Movie Making

First Aid

Web Design

Creative Dance Yoga

Karol and Setha

Science Experiments

Relationship Course

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Music and Recording

Cooking Annual Report 2013 | 9


Six Geckos pass their high school certificate! One of our biggest milestones for 2013 was when six proud Geckos—Yoeurt, Sokoun, Pov, Srey Nao, Vit and Vun— successfully completed their Year 9 National Certificate! Considering the fact that less than six years ago none of them had even started their education adventure, this is a feat of great proportions.

Cambodia’s next generation of voters The future of Cambodia rests on the youth of today, and in September, our young adults exercised their democratic right and casting their votes for the first time in the Cambodian national election. Our kids and staff returned proudly with blue-stained fingertips, after inking their fingerprint - the Cambodian 'signature' for all important documents - on their electoral roll.

Time to start thinking about careers Hard to believe that we have reached this milestone already! Our little Geckos have grown into young adults and want career options, advice, opportunities, vocational training, university… the list goes on. Siem Reap had its inaugural Skills Fair, where our kids found inspiration. Doing nothing by halves, they jumped in, asking questions and collected brochures by the bagful. 10 | Green Gecko Project

The next generation speak up for children’s rights On November 20, we celebrated Human Rights Day at Gecko. Our young adults put on a presentation for their younger siblings in Tiger Club, educating them in same basic rights they have often - and sadly - been deprived of. Completely kid-run under the leadership of their MC, Pov, the Geckos volunteered to take turns in explaining the child rights they felt were the most important. They focused on protection, provision, participation and development. One by one, they stood up to speak eloquently on the topic, much to the delight of their engaged audience of Tigers. They laughed, they cheered, and even though the discussion was in Khmer, I could see the looks on their faces said it all. After some more discussion and a lot of hand raising, Pov looked at me with a stumped sort of smile and a shrug of his shoulders. "Mum, they've got it... they understand”, he announced. The Tigers then took their turns and added their own thoughts: Snar (8) said it was “important to be involved and not to look down on others”, Mao (also 8) suggested “we should not think of black and white skin”, Srey Pouv (7) said her most important right was the “right to go to school”. The last answer of the day was a classic; La (14) asked, “Why were the Child Rights made?” to which Srey Ban (6) answered with conviction “TO PROTECT CHILDREN!” Needless to say, she got the biggest applause of the day!

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proud moments The Geckos sweep the stage at Awards Day! It was a busy time for a proud mum at our school’s end of year AWARDS DAY! Much to the amusement of the audience, Mum was up and down the stage stairs like it was the Academy Awards, to join her clever kids as they received their certificates of Academic Excellence (top 3). Gecko kids, siblings and staff kids were all amongst the high achievers. What wonderful day for us all!

So good they skipped a grade! For four of our top achievers - Khim, Sokha, Sophat and Nicky – success resulted in more than a certificate. Their grades were so impressive that their teachers had no choice but to accelerate them. Khim and Sokha went from Grade 3 to Grade 5 and wait for it… (drum roll please)… Nicky and Sophat moved from Grade 4 to Grade 6, their second jump in two years!

Final respects for a much loved teacher Sad news came to Green Gecko when our boys discovered that our beloved Khmer music teacher was very sick. Without any family of his own near by, our kids decided to be there for him. Unfortunately Teacher Sakhoeurn passed away, but he was not alone. The kids rallied together and organised his funeral. From taking his body back to the pagoda to negotiating the funeral costs, from arranging the monks’ blessing to lighting incense to show their respect; there was no stone unturned by their own hands. In the tradition of Khmer Buddhism, they respectfully took turns to wash down his body and redressed him in his favourite rock ‘n’ roll clothes. n preparation for his cremation the next day they wrapped him in white cloth, placed him in his coffin and packed bags of ice around him. It was a beautiful and moving ceremony, which paid homage to a wonderful musician. Never had we felt so in awe of our children, never had we felt so proud.

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Our girls awarded gold, silver and bronze medals The annual trek to the National Bokator Championships in Phnom Penh happened again in August. In true Champion style, the Gecko girls showed how tough they are and swept the floor with their skills in partner performance, taking out 1st, 2nd and 3rd place on the podium! This year, our boys saw some strong competition, but still were awarded a bronze medallion for their impressive efforts.

Gecko warriors chosen to perform at Angkor Wat Traditional Khmer culture holds a high place of importance at Green Gecko and we make sure the kids are immersed in the ancient arts. This year our boys had the great honour of being chosen to perform at the Angkor Wat New Year festivities. We are very proud of the way they have embraced their culture with such passion and dedication. True Angkor Warriors indeed.

Nang found his ‘click’ in life A single gesture that has quite possibly changed one young man’s life forever! Through a selection of Nang was chosen to participate in the Exploring Foundations photography workshop ran by SOP - School of Photography Singapore and Aperture Asia, with skilled photographers from throughout Singapore. From never really fitting in or feeling passionate about anything, Nang has now found his voice, confidence and sense of self through photography, an international language, which has no boundaries. Taking photos makes him feel alive, and teacher Simon believes that Nang is “a true talent to be nurtured”. Needless to say we now have an official Green Gecko photographer, and he is always found with a camera in hand. Annual Report 2013 | 13

fun times When people walk through the Gecko gates, they often comment on what a fun place it is. Our kids are always playing, giggling, squealing with delight as they move between classes or go about their daily chores. It is a sight and sound to behold. This year, besides all the everyday fun, there have been some amazing events that have rated extremely high on the Gecko Fun Richter Scale. From yet another fabulous kid-organised Gecko birthday party to some extra special visits from Khmer superstars, from trips to the circus to cabaret shows and pirate parties. We have had it all... thanks to a very special sponsor we call our Fun Angel! :-)

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What we gonna do to move these things away? How we gonna do this, make a brighter day? It's better to have a big heart in a small house, than a small heart in big house...

Big heart, small house

Every year in July, our Gecko birthday celebrations are filled with lots of fun, delicious food, fun entertainment and surprises. Of all the incredible surprises that flowed, one after another, during this year's fabulous 8th birthday celebrations... this would have to be up there with the best ever. Written and produced months prior but kept under wraps for the big day, the kids stopped us in our tracks when they played us 'Big Heart, Small House'. A beautiful song with a beautiful message, written and performed by the kids themselves. Mixing their love of traditional Khmer instruments with modern ones and combining their beautiful vocals with bokator drum beats, they’ve created something very unique and special indeed. Big thanks to the talent and expertise of musicians Wayne Glenn and Garry Eyles for not only inspiring and mentoring the kids through the entire process, but also for generously donating the instruments and the professional recording equipment they used to make the track. Thank you for planting the musical seed… looks like the path to a Gecko recording studio has been paved!

We’re all together, we love to be together, we love each other, sister and brother.

Check it out on

We have come so far, but still so much to learn... open hearts to your concern.

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day centre for siblings

Growing as the need arises While Green Gecko has always supported these families with rent, food, medical treatment and education costs; recent reports from their school teachers showed a dramatic difference in results and behaviour between the siblings who were at Gecko and those who stayed at home. Despite much progress being made with the families over the years in regard to domestic violence, abuse and neglect; it was clear that remnants of their past continue to have an impact, and more holistic support was needed if these children were to flourish like their Gecko siblings. And so, the TIGER CLUB was born! These little siblings were our inspiration to build a dedicated safe place for them to learn, rest and play. A large timber, grass and bamboo ‘hut’ in the garden of our outreach house, 50 metres from the Green Gecko gates. For five hours a day, 30 of our children’s siblings feel awesome. They eat delicious meals and fruit. They shower, de-louse and wash their uniforms. They learn English with Teacher Viki, do their Khmer homework with Teacher Heng, and have fun activities with Boo Phiech. They run, they laugh, they squabble, they meditate, they learn, they create. Most of all, they relish in their new-found sense of belonging, and in having a safe and protected place that they can call their own. When we asked one of the older Tigers (that has been at Gecko her entire life), "which is better, Gecko or Tiger Club?", it was an definitive “TIGER CLUB!”. Why? “Cos it’s just way more fun!”

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“Hi Tania, can you come to the computer room for watching Von and the other whisker members (littlest of our Tigers) to type very good with the right spot of keyboard. Please come to encourage them, they want you for watching". This was a text message I received from Phiech (our House Uncle and the Tiger's teacher) during their computer class. Of course, I happily obliged. Aside from the obvious cuteness of watching tiny little humans sitting perfectly still with fingers in correct typing position and sheer concentration on their faces... it was amazing to see that they were typing in ENGLISH! The request was made all the more special as it came from Von. Von is a little boy who less than a year ago was told by doctors and teachers that he was unable to go to school, that his brain was damaged from a serious illness and he was incapable of learning or adapting to a classroom environment. It was said, “he’s just not like other people”. Well, he proved them all wrong, and then some! In just under seven months, with the love, care and attention of his Tiger Club carers and teachers, Von has blossomed way above anyone’s expectations. A day later, he came running up to me after school with his arms outstretched and fingers waving in front of him, “Mum!” he exclaimed (then looking at his fingers). At first I thought he was pretending to be a spider, then it dawned on me... he was assuming his touch typing finger position! He was so proud of his achievement, and we are so proud of him. Heartfelt thanks to David and Dawn Olsen and all the Olsen family for making Tiger Club possible… In memory of Poppy ’Darby’ Olsen. Annual Report 2013 | 17

spreading their wings They have come such a long way...

Our big kids when they were just little kids... can you recognise who’s who? What an incredible journey they have taken, and an incredible privilege and honour to have watched them grow.

And now it’s time for life after high school... From Tiger Club to our new Young Adults’ Program it is all happening at Green Gecko. We have now reached a new stage in our Gecko life… Tertiary Education. Over the next eight years we are going to be having more and more kids graduate from secondary school and move into further education, whether it is at University or a Vocational Training Centre. For us this is more than just finding the right school… it is career counseling, job preparation, work experience, applications, uniforms, text books, laptops and even for some boarding in another Cambodian city whilst studying. Whatever our kids decide we know that we are going to be so proud of them, just like we are of these four and our veteran young adult, Pita. 18 | Green Gecko Project

Srey Lai—Spa Therapy December 2013, Srey Lai was one of three young adults accepted into the Shinta Mani Foundation "Spa Therapy" course... our first daughter studying in tertiary education! Srey Lai has always been interested in making people feel and look special so this course is made for her. Srey Lai has found her path and comes home every night with the biggest smile and exciting stories to tell.

Sokoun—Food and Beverage Srey Lai is not the only Gecko to have been accepted into the Shinta Mani Foundation. After a rigorous application process, Sokoun was next to enter its vocational training program and was one of four chosen to study the Food and Beverage Management Course. Sokoun’s vision for her future has always been to own her restaurant. She is now definitely on her way to reaching her goal.

Vun—Front Office Hospitality Ever since we can remember Vun’s dream has remained unchanged, and that is to become a Hotel General Manager. The first stage of his dream has begun, with him studying at Paul Du Brule Hospitality School. Recently Vun completed a placement at a Siem Reap luxury hotel. Achieving highly in all categories, it was the “reliable, respectful, trustworthy” comments that really stood out.

Yoeurt—Permaculture In Cambodia farming is often regarded as a job for the uneducated… but we are changing that! After a visit from some awesome Aussie farmers, Yoeurt saw farming in a very different light. Graduating from high school in August, Yoeurt chose Permaculture as his career. With some great mentors and a natural ability, Yoeurt is now proudly managing Green Gecko’s Footprints Farm.

Pita—Law Pita is now in the third year of his law studies and after one more year in Siem Reap he will be heading off to the big smoke of Phnom Penh to finish off his Law Degree and Masters. Like many Cambodian University students, Pita studies in the evenings and works full time during the day. But what does he do during the day… he is Gecko Central’s administrator and purchase officer! Annual Report 2013 | 19

kids giving back Former Street Kids give back to their community Being inspired by Rotary International’s youth movement Rotaract, the Green Gecko kids have decided that it’s their turn to give back to the Cambodian community. Coming full circle, and showing the caring and loving hearts that they have, the kids have established their own humanitarian group, Gecko Action. Gecko Action is completely ‘kid-governed’ with its own Board of Directors and 47 teenage members; they meet weekly to brainstorm new ideas – of who to help and how to fundraise money.

Like the roots of a tree make a tree strong, we feel that Gecko is what has made us strong, so for our logo we have put our Gecko print as our roots and the arrows are like the branches of a tree going out into the world. We chose arrows because they look like action and we want to make action in all directions.

The main focus of Gecko Action’s giving is for students living in rural villages who have dropped out of school because of the costs. Our kids know the importance of education and the impact that will have on Cambodia’s future and are determined to make sure rural kids have the same opportunities.

Inaugural Board of Directors And the votes are in! Left to right: Boram (Administrator), Vit (Secretary), Pov (Deputy President), Pichet (Treasurer), Yoeurt (President) and Srey Neang (Operations Manager). 20 | Green Gecko Project

With a Facebook page created, a group designed logo and tshirts made, Gecko Action are rearing to go. Most Saturday nights they are sausage sizzling it up in Pub Street, raising both funds and awareness. Rural schools and Drug Rehabilitation centres have been visited and donations given. Just as important to Gecko Action is the future of Cambodia’s environment. ‘Clean Up Siem Reap’ days have been organised within the community and a temple bike ride, with rubbish bins attached, raised funds and gave the temples a spruce up at the same time. Celebrating their first birthday in July, Gecko Action is already making a difference. See what the kids are up to next @


“We felt happy and sad at the same time with what we saw, they were all very smart and respectful and friendly but their clothes were dirty and their teeth were very decayed. They looked like we did about eight years ago.” - Sotun 18




bags of rubbish Gecko

school starter packs given

teenage Geckos attend

Action helped to collect

to rural students

weekly meetings

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footprints farm Growing our very own fruit and veggies Considering agriculture is the most important sector in Cambodia’s economy, and will continue to be so, we knew that it was essential to educate our kids on the significance of sustainable farming. The importance of us having our own sustainable agriculture project is twofold, Education and Sustainable Food Provision. So 800m behind Gecko Central is our very own Footprints Farm, managed by one of our very own Geckos, Youert. With the help of experienced teachers in permaculture we are showing our kids, and the local community, practical eco-farming techniques. It is a place where our kids are excited to go exploring, to learn and interact with our food forest, aquaculture and roaming animals, and to develop a healthy passion for self sufficient, organic farming. It is a place where their mind, body and spirit can grow alongside our mangoes, coconuts and bananas. Though it is early days we have already shown the kids and their families that it is possible to provide your own nutrition… with organic lettuces, beans and tomatoes served for Green Gecko lunches. Now we are eagerly waiting for our chickens to grow so we can have enough free range eggs for breakky!

Our beautiful farm logo Created by our ever-clever Garden Guru Jack, and as with all things in Gecko land we asked the kids their opinion and approval. When we presented it at assembly, it was met with an unanimous and affirming cheer! When we asked them what they thought it meant, this is what they said... we don’t think we could have said it better ourselves.

Well the footprint means it is a part of our Gecko family, it is in a circle because the world is round and we need to care for our environment, and it is a tree, because we grow things. - Heng, 17

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See the farm grow @ /FootprintsFarm

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investing in our families It’s not only about the kids... Perhaps the single most differentiating initiative that sets Green Gecko Project apart from many children’s organisations is the commitment we make to the Geckos’ families. Although somewhat hidden, our programs go way beyond educating and caring for 90+ former street kids. Importantly, we include long term initiatives that aim to break the begging and abuse cycles of the families they are from. We are big believers that the success of our Children’s Educational Program strongly hinges on the effectiveness of the work we do with the families through our Outreach Program. Experience shows us, that without long term initiatives that strive to deal with the source of a family’s dysfunction, there will be no sustainable change. Behind the scenes and beyond the Gecko gates there is a team of trained social workers connecting with these families, providing holistic support and facilitating educational workshops, health care, hygiene and vocational training. Re-educating the children’s parents is paramount in making these changes successful. Working closely with their community partners, Green Gecko Project aims to provide these families opportunities to learn about all aspects of family life and difficulties. From Reproductive Health and Safe Motherhood to Women’s Rights and Domestic Violence, workshops like these are regularly offered to the Green Gecko parents and have proven extremely valuable for inspiring change. In 2013 Green Gecko provided health care to our families in the Outreach Program; 88 medical treatments including – amongst others - gastroenteritis, pneumonia, hypertension and an emergency gall stone surgery that would not otherwise be afforded. Our health programs also contributed to reducing common hygiene related illnesses by providing new water wells and toilets for families who had none and improving living standards by providing safe housing and weekly nutrition packs of fresh vegetables, meat and rice. Two Gecko mothers, who have only ever begged to earn an income, began weaving classes at Grace Gecko, a social enterprise collaboration to provide skills and income to vulnerable and high -risk women. This not only empowers the women but does wonders for the esteem of their children also. Green Gecko Project is not an orphanage, and family connection is of utmost importance to us. All children with families in Siem Reap spend time at home every weekend. For our families out of town, Green Gecko provides regular trips for parents to visit and stay with their children for as long as they like. Family Fun Days are also an important part of our goals to keep families connected and involved. These days are events where family members from all 32 families are invited share a meal with their children and be entertained by them, creating a positive and bonding experience in a safe environment.

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beneficiaries from 32

toilets and water wells

kilos of fresh

families supported

built for families

vegetables provided



medical services


provided to families

provided for families

8320 kilos of rice provided

Annual Report 2013 | 25

investing in our crew Green Gecko is not an institution with employees, it is a home with family members... and you only have to walk through to the gates to feel the difference. We treat our staff like our family; some are our family, some are our kids’ family, and some just feel like family. Their dedication and longevity to Gecko is a testament to this. We are proud of our staff policies; not only do we respect the Labour Law and all National holidays, we also offer extra health benefits and scholarships for them and their children. We believe in giving them the same opportunities of education as we do our kids. Staff training and workshops are an important part of our capacity building, investing in our team and ensuring that our programs are successful and sustainable.

Here are some of the valuable courses our staff attended in 2013: Parenting Roles—Women’s Resource Centre Child development, Good parenting, Creating happy families | (2 staff) Legal Aid Workshop—Women’s Resource Centre Marriage law, divorce and procedures, domestic violence | (2 staff) First Step Cambodia Social Work Course Ten month course focusing on working with children who suffer sexual abuse | (1 staff) First Step Cambodia Relationship Training Healthy relationships between men and women | (3 staff) Team Work—Possibilities School Reducing stress, Leadership skills, commitment and accountability | (3 staff) Conflict and Communication—Possibilities School | (3 staff) QuickBooks—Consultation of Accounting Solutions | (2 staff)

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Team Gecko!

Back row: Phoung, Vichea, San, Rithy, Omla Middle row: ‘Pa’, Liz, Nary, Phiech, E Sren, Sotheavy, Ma Kem, Pita, Doug, Srey Mom, Boo Mon, Heng Front row: Enny, Rem, Tania, Wich

19 full time Khmer staff

3 sponsored or self-funded long term volunteers

Train staff well enough so they could leave, but look after your staff well enough so they don't want to leave. Richard Branson




sponsored foreign

part time Khmer arts

staff members studying

language teachers


at university

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gecko financials Where it comes from RESTRICTED FUNDS Specific sponsorships e.g. Education, Sustainable projects, Health


UNRESTRICTED FUNDS General donations to cover non-sponsored expenses


INCOME GENERATION Gift Shop sales: cookbooks, caps, t-shirts, products made by our parents, Gecko Action, Bokator performances



of general donations go TOTAL INCOME FOR 2013 (USD)


directly to GG projects

Expense distribution by project (6 months only)

Unless specifically stated by our donors, ALL contributions are considered general donations. Our low admin charges are due to the fact that we pay no foreigner paid from general donations, and most fees and charges are deducted before donations are received into our account here in Cambodia.

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Where it goes (all projects combined) NUTRITION (daily fresh organic fruit, vegetables, meat and ibis rice for our kids, staff and families)


EDUCATION (university, vocational training, further education living allowances, Khmer school, English literacy, Khmer literacy, equipment, women’s workshops, family workshops)


ARTS, SPORTS & ACTIVITIES (traditional and modern music, art and dance, bokator (traditional Khmer martial art), physical and health education, media, information technology, textiles, cooking)


CHILDCARE (every day essentials, children’s clothing, shoes and accessories, kids budgeting allowance, identity cards)


COMMUNITY AID/SOCIAL WORK (safe housing contributions, aid and relief for our community, reconnecting families)


FURNITURE, FITTINGS & EQUIPMENT (wardrobes, beds, tables, chairs… everyday furniture we all need)


HOUSEHOLD GOODS (fans, pots, pans, spoons, bowls, mats… little bits and pieces)


HEALTH (hospital/clinic/dentist/eye and ear care expenses and medicines, for kids, staff and families)


HYGIENE (deodorants, shampoo, conditioner, soap, washing powder, toothpaste, toothbrushes … all the things that keep us clean!)


BUILDING AND MAINTENANCE (new buildings, pathways, reroofing, painting, fencing, shade areas and materials. Includes a new bathroom and tiles for our girl’s bedrooms)


CAPACITY BUILDING (staff training, courses and workshops)


ADMIN (bank fees, government charges, stationary and printing)


TRANSPORTATION (fuel and maintenance for all vehicles and bicycles, tuk tuk, taxi and truck hire, safety equipment, insurance, taxes and expenses related to travelling. Includes the purchase of a new tuk tuk)


OPERATION EXPENSE (rent, communications, utilities, computer equipment, safety equipment maintenance... all the boring things)


CULTURAL & RECREATIONAL ACTIVITIES (traditional ceremonies, celebrations, birthdays and excursions … all the fun stuff!)


INCOME GENERATION (product & stock for family microbusinesses, footprint farm, silk screen printing lab, gecko action and the gift shop,) STAFF COSTS (Direct and indirect costs or all our wonderful Khmer staff)

4,971 50,370

TOTAL EXPENSES FOR 2013 (USD$) Annual Report 410,026 2013 | 29

recognition & support “Mum to Cambodia's street kids honoured”- Herald Sun This year it wasn’t just the kids that got special awards... Gecko mum got one too! And it was a very special one indeed, it from the Queen! On Australia Day, her name - Tania Palmer - was on the Honours list, recognising her as a Member of the Order of Australia (AM). In September she and our Gecko dad Rem were invited to Government House for a very special ceremony called an Investiture; led by the Governor General, Her Excellency the Honourable Quentin Bryce AC CVO. We explained to the little kids that it was like an Olympic medal for kind people. We are so proud of our mum.

“Although my name is printed on the certificate and engraved on the medal, the recognition is not mine alone. I proudly and equally share it with Rem, with our committed crew, every volunteer and donor, fundraiser, friend and family member who have supported us on our amazing journey. And above all else, I share this with our incredible kids, who are the real heroes in our lives.”—Tania

30 | Green Gecko Project

To all of our Gecko friends… The kids always say that Green Gecko is like one big family, and it’s true. Our Gecko family is global, and it includes all of you! To everyone that has believed in us over the years: from every sponsor and skydiver to every friend, fundraiser and fun-runner, every volunteer and photographer to every gift-shopper and gift giver... to every single one of you that has been there for us. Thank you from the bottom of our Gecko hearts!

Naturally we'd love to thank everyone individually but that would take another ten pages of fine print, and we fear we’d leave someone out.  You know who you are and so do we! To view some of our staunchest contributors, please check out our Special Thanks page at

Annual Report 2013 | 31

our goals for 2014 Connect more with our Gecko Guardians Gecko Guardians are our valued ongoing monthly supporters, the ones who give us the peace of mind to commit to long term programs. Our goal for this year is to improve our communication with our Gecko Guardians, sharing more news more regularly and making their connection to Green Gecko a more personal one. Young Adult Program (YAP) Coordinator With the kids growing faster than we can keep up, and each of them having their own unique path in mind… this next phase of Gecko family life is getting scary! With a multitude of tertiary education and work experience options looming, we need help. This year we are looking for an experienced and enthusiastic professional to come on board… before mum loses her mind! Young Adult Apprenticeships Investigating apprenticeship options will be a part of our Young Adult Program. It will provide—especially for the Geckos that are much older than their peers—the chance to continue both high school, gaining an education, and employment in a field of work they are interested in. Financial literacy for mothers Many of us lack financial literacy skills and struggle to save money for unforeseen events. Things are no different in Cambodia, especially our families are focused on the short term, and getting from one meal to the next. For this reason, our goal is to partner with Women’s Resource Centre to offer a series of classes that address budgeting and other life skills. Kids stepping up Gecko has always been about developing the kids competencies and attributes. Next year we would like to step this up through them being more involved in Gecko’s decision-making processes and directions. Understanding budgets, real life situations, and parameters that we all need to operate within.

32 | Green Gecko Project

get involved Become a Gecko Guardian Our fundraising focus for the coming year is to promote our Gecko Guardian program. Although we very much welcome and appreciate large one-off donations, it’s the smaller but regular monthly donations that give us a sense of security and confidence to commit to our long-term plans. Whether a child contributes $10 a month from their pocket money, or a corporation gives $1000 a month through their social responsibility program, knowing that the same amount will be there next month is a great relief. Every dollar given is matched by the effort and determination of Gecko kids and families as they work hard to break the begging cycle and transform their own lives. Whether you think your monthly commitment is big or small, we can assure you it makes a huge difference to the kids and their families.

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View our wish list Annual Report 2013 | 33 former street kids | siem reap | cambodia

(Awkoon tom tom - Thank you big big!) With much gratitude, Gecko’s founding directors, Rem Poum and Tania Palmer, and all the Gecko kids, families and crew.

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