Duncan Bell – Co-Founder of the Helping Hand charity
In 2012 my wife Becci and I travelled with our two youngest children to Phnom Penh where, for two years, we worked as missionaries.
I had been working at Waitrose on the Isle of Wight but had felt a calling to “give something back”. Our children went to Hope International school to finish their education during our stay.
It was during the first year that I worked in some of the slums in the south of Phnom Penh and was overwhelmed by the poverty and conditions in which people lived.
In September of 2013 there was terrible flooding in much of Cambodia and one of the slums I had been working in was severely affected by this. Ordinary people, good people, were desperate for food and dry shelter. I was able to offer practical help with funds donated by a beneficiary back home in the Isle of Wight but I became more aware of the plight of people living in this village.
Being drawn to one family in particular I felt that amongst the many ways to help was to sponsor the oldest daughter to go to school. If a child receives a good education then they can get qualifications enabling them to get a good job.
Many children will end up working in garment factories which have poor working conditions and low pay. The more vulnerable ones (usually girls but not all) are trafficked or sold into the sex industry which is rife in Cambodia (there are estimated to be about 20,000 prostitutes in Phnom Penh alone).
After my two years in Cambodia I have returned to my home in the Isle of Wight and gone back to the day job. But the impression left on me has enabled me to set up this charity so that others can offer help to those who can’t help themselves.