A Lakeway woman has helped thousands of children in Cambodia with her non-profit organization, Caring For Cambodia.
Jamie Amelio started CFC in 2003 after a trip to Cambodia.
"And that's when a girl came up to me and asked me for money and I said, 'what for?' And she said 'for school.' And everything shifted then. That was it," said Amelio.
Amelio couldn't wrap her head around Cambodian children panhandling to go to school. Families are required to pay for children to attend classes.
All the while, "My kids had everything they could possibly need," said Amelio.
She said that was a rough realization.
But it fueled Amelio so that a few months after the trip, she opened the first of 21 schools in Siem Reap, Cambodia.
In the Caring For Cambodia Lakeway office, giant pictures of Cambodian children adorn the walls.
One wall showed what different donation amounts can purchase. For example, $15 feeds one child for one month. Or $50 can purchase a bike for a child to get to school. Many children are walking for miles to get to school.
14 years later, CFC has grown to include hundreds of volunteers and donors from all over.
The day KVUE visited, there was a trash bag full of new toothbrushes the Lakeway Veterinary Clinic collected for Amelio to take to Cambodia.
Since that fateful day in January of 2003, CFC has built a total of 21 schools and fed, educated and provided clean water for some 6,600 students.
Chun Peik is one of them.
KVUE spoke with Peik by Skype where it's 13 hours ahead in Cambodia.
He stayed up because he wanted to share his story.
"There was no rice because all the rice had been flooded. No one could help," Peik said, describing how a flood in 2004 left many in his village starving.
He also wanted to tell KVUE about Amelio.
"She's amazing woman. I'm really proud of her, even if she is not Cambodian, but she has the heart to help us," said Peik.
Peik knows if it wasn't for Amelio's schools, he wouldn't be in college now. He had to quit school in the fifth grade because his family couldn't afford it. His gratitude only drives Amelio to work harder. Because she knows there are many more students who still need help.
Amelio said so far, CFC has invested $15 million into Cambodia. CFC has a budget of $1 million per year with administrative costs hovering around six percent.
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