Giving Back

Changing a child's life for the better

It’s a long distance from Tauranga to Cambodia, but that didn’t stop Kiwi lawyer Denise Arnold from establishing the Cambodia Charitable Trust so she could help transform the lives of Cambodian children.

“I realised that if I wasn't part of the solution, I was part of the problem.”

After Denise’s daughter returned from a school trip to South East Asia, Denise was struck by the devastating poverty she saw in photographs. Cambodia’s education system is still shattered following Pol Pot’s regime. There is a chronic shortage of trained teachers and the schools are in disrepair – without toilets, drinking water and teaching materials.

“Rather than be the ambulance at the bottom of the cliff, I decided to build a fence at the top of the cliff and keep children safe at school,” Denise says.

Denise began by providing clothing and stationery, then library books and textbooks. Then in 2008, she established The Cambodia Charitable Trust, which now supports 16 schools and 6,000 children in rural Cambodia. Fidelity Life sponsors Neareay Secondary School in Kampot, a poverty stricken community where the rice farmers can barely afford to eat, let alone buy their children textbooks. With the help of supporter donations, Denise’s achievements in the region are impressive.

“It is an accomplishment to get children to attend and finish primary school, but now we have 300 children attending secondary school every year. They have all the learning materials they need as well as stationery, school uniforms, toilets and drinking water.”

To find out how you can help, donate or sponsor a Cambodian child, visit