Tara was in her early twenties and working as a volunteer in Cambodia when she heard about a corrupt orphanage where children were suffering from severe neglect and shocking abuse. Tara assembled a team and took action - rescuing 14 children from the orphanage and creating the Cambodian Children’s Trust (CCT). CCT is now home to 50 children, helping them overcome their backgrounds of abuse and nelgect, breaking the cycle of poverty through care and education. Tara resides in Cambodia and speaks fluent Khmer, and the Trust she founded also supports families in the Battambang region, street children, people with HIV/AIDS, sex workers, victims of landmines, the physically and mentally disabled, and others who are in need. Tara plans to purchase land to build on, so that CCT has a permanent base to provide children with the security they need. Rather than one large institution, the preferred model is one in which small groups (from eight-ten children) are cared for in individual homes by a house mother and father, creating an atmosphere of a typical Cambodian family. CCT has also opened a shop in Battambang to help support its activities and ABC’s Australian Story has produced a story on Tara and CCT. In 2011, Tara was named NSW Young Australian of the Year.
Photographer: Diane Macdonald