Stories: Children, Communities, Futures

Peter and Trish Fehon (pictured above) consider themselves “your average Australian couple”. They have been married for 35 years and have four children, plus a couple of grandchildren. They’ve also been sponsoring children through ChildFund Australia for the past 23 years.

“When we started sponsoring we had four kids who were very little. We could see the benefit in nurturing them and giving them a good start so we wanted to be able to give that opportunity to someone else too without it costing us a fortune,” Peter says.

And made a difference they have. In the time their four children have grown and had their own children, Peter and Trish have sponsored 10 children through ChildFund from Brazil and India to the Philippines and Cambodia.

This year, they decided to take their support one step further. These keen travellers have combined their passion of experiencing new things with helping children in need by signing up for our Cambodia Water Challenge.

On 29 October, the pair will join seven other Aussies on a 12-day adventure where they will challenge themselves to cycle and trek Cambodia’s vast countryside  all to raise funds to help almost 1,000 young children from rural Cambodia access clean water and toilets at school.

Of the trip, Peter says he is most excited about getting off the tourist trail: “Visiting the communities and seeing the real part of the country will be great.” Not only will Peter and Trish visit some of the schoolchildren they are helping through their fundraising, they will also meet their nine-year-old sponsored child, Khol, for the first time.

The couple`s fundraising target was $7,000, which they more than doubled, raising a total of $14,250! All thanks to one fun long weekend with friends and family.

Peter, a car enthusiast, decided to host a three-day Dirt Driving Trek which gave participants the chance to explore 1,300 kilometres of NSW`s hinterland.

“It was a load of fun! We had 32 people come along. Probably 20 of those were people who had done this kind of thing with me before and the rest had always wanted to give it a go. So the group was a great mix of people,” says Peter.

From Mittagong through pine forests and picturesque grazing regions to historic Hill End and Bathurst to quaint towns and navigating the infamous Swallow Tail Pass, there was just one constant on the trip: dirt roads for everyone to enjoy.

Peter has lots of great memories from the trek but he says the highlight was “definitely watching a guy drive a 40-year-old Ford Falcon into the Macquarie River (for a river crossing) but getting stuck right in the middle!”

We are not sure if Peter and Trish are your average Aussie couple but we know one thing for sure: we can’t wait to hear all about their once-in-a-lifetime trip to Cambodia!

ChildFund Australia would like to say a big thank you to Peter and Trish, and all of our other Cambodia Water Challenge participants, who have put in such an incredible fundraising effort to make a life-changing difference for childr

Ian and Chris, both doctors, have been sponsoring Hilda for over eight years through ChildFund Australia. The couple says: “Once we had children of our own we wanted them to relate to a child of their age and sex that they could help.”

After much consideration the family decided it was about time they met the beautiful young girl that they had been corresponding with for so long. Ian and Chris wanted to give their daughters, Zarli, 9, and Xabby, 7, an opportunity to experience firsthand “how many people in the world live and why they should help others less fortunate”.

The family of four met ChildFund staff in Tegucigalpa, the capital of Honduras. Together they travelled about three hours through steep mountains and dusty roads to get to the village where Hilda and her family live.

The first stop was to her school where they were greeted by the elementary school students waving Honduran and Australian flags. It was here they saw Hilda and her family for the very first time. The Dickinsons were the first foreign visitors the school had ever hosted and excitement was visible on all of the children`s faces as they sang and performed dances.

At Hilda’s school, Zarli and Xabby began to notice some big differences from their life in Australia. “It is interesting how all the children fit in one classroom. In my school we have individual classrooms for the different school grades,” says Xabby. “Here, you have one classroom for all the different school grades.”

Zarli adds: “It is very impressive to know they walk long distances to attend school.”

In the months prior to their trip, the Dickinsons had gathered school supplies from friends and family to bring for Hilda`s classmates. They really could not have brought a better gift for the children, who were very impressed with their generosity.

The family continued their visit through Hilda`s community. “I must admit I was shocked about the poverty endured by Hilda and her family,” Chris states. Even the girls started to realise to a larger extent how different their lives were when asking about Hilda`s toys. Zarli and Xabby were very excited to give Hilda and her family all the things they had collected for them. They quickly handed them out and proceeded to explain how certain things were meant to be used.

When it was time to go to lunch, the girls walked hand in hand – it was hard to separate them to get in different cars!

The two families had to travel two hours away to reach the nearest restaurant. When finally they arrived, the Dickinson girls couldn’t be happier to reunite with their new friends. This was also the first time Hilda´s family had left their small village so everything was new and exciting for them.