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THERESA GATTUNG | Patron

“I am so grateful to have my friend, Theresa Gattung, as our CCT Patron. As the former CEO of Telecom and co-founder of My Food Bag, Theresa is the quintessential self-made Kiwi business woman and has an incredibly generous heart. She is an amazing champion for women, both in New Zealand and in the dirt floor homes of rural Cambodia. She passionately advocates for education for girls as a doorway to a better life, because, as you will see, education is part of her own story.”

~ Denise Arnold
CCT Founder & Director
~ Denise Arnold CCT Founder & Director

WHY DO YOU BELIEVE IN THE POWER OF EDUCATION FOR VULNERABLE GIRLS IN CAMBODIA?

I was so lucky to be born to parents who immigrated to New Zealand seeking new opportunities. They came from a working class background  in the United Kingdom and neither girls nor boys in their generation went to university. Personally, my university education in law and business has opened the way for me to build a wonderful life.

The Cambodian girls tug on my heart, because I personally resonate with being a young girl with a thirst for knowledge and a vision for a life of greater possibility.  The deprivation they live with is so severe and yet they are grasping every opportunity they have with both hands. By comparison, I have so much and I want to do my part to help them on their way.

 

HOW DID YOU GET INVOLVED IN SUPPORTING DENISE ARNOLD AND HER WORK?

Once I became aware of the work my friend, Denise Arnold, had begun in Cambodia I was so taken with what she was doing and how effective it was that I wanted to support her.  Denise’s sister, Janine Tait, and I were particularly keen to focus on educating girls.  I am a firm believer that improving the lot of women is essential for social change in developing countries. Denise and I had read many of the same books on this topic and there was a natural synergy between us.

I think Denise is an amazing person to be such a successful lawyer, wife and mother and to have got this all going.  To have studied what works in the development field, to have picked the right team on the ground and to have managed to do this year after year, getting funding, including getting charitable donee status for work that is happening overseas is truly remarkable

WHAT ARE SOME OF YOUR LASTING IMPRESSIONS FROM YOUR TRIPS TO CAMBODIA?

My trip to Cambodia early last year blew me away.  What stands out is the spirit of the people, their gratitude for the support they are getting, and the way families are doing their best to help their daughters get an education.  On a personal level, the joy of giving is really quite profound.

HOW SUCCESSFULLY IS CCT MEETING ITS GOALS IN CAMBODIA?

The statistics measuring the impact of the work that CCT is doing in the schools in Cambodia are incredibly impressive. I was able to meet with some of the education people in the sector and they were so enthusiastic about the work of CCT they wanted us to co-ordinate all not-for-profit activities in the area.  It would be beyond our resources but it just shows you the high esteem CCT is held in.

The difference between the unsupported schools and the CCT supported schools is like night and day. When you are there in person you can see it very  clearly.

100% OF YOUR DONATION GOES DIRECTLY TO OUR WORK IN CAMBODIA.

All of our volunteers meet their own travel and accommodation costs when working in Cambodia or in New Zealand and donate their time and expertise. Neither Denise Arnold, nor any of the Trustees or volunteers draw a salary from CCT or claim any of their expenses. They all believe passionately in what CCT is doing to put their own money and time in freely.

Where CCT does have administration costs, these are covered by the volunteers or by Lyon O’Neale Arnold, lawyers in Tauranga, of which CCT founder Denise Arnold is a Director. What costs CCT cannot avoid (bank fees and Xero costs) are covered by specific donations by individuals or the law firm.

Every dollar donated goes to the projects in Cambodia where it is carefully spent to get the maximum impact. Where possible supplies are purchased in Cambodia to support the local economy and to make our New Zealand dollars go further.

 


CAMBODIA

REBUILDING AFTER THE LOST GENERATION

Cambodia is a nation in recovery from great trauma. Pol Pot and his communist Khmer Rouge movement led Cambodia from 1975 to 1979. During this dark reign, two to three million Cambodians out of a total population of seven to eight million died from execution, disease, starvation or overwork. Pol Pot’s vision was to create a nation of labourers; educated people and teachers were targeted and killed. The whole social structure of Cambodia was destroyed. A generation of leaders and teachers was lost. Education is vital for the rebuilding of Cambodia, and we feel compelled to support Cambodians in this transformative work. We’d love you to join us.