by Global Grind Staff
Unless a horrific tragedy happens, as consumers and producers of media, we sometimes forget that the world beyond America's borders is inhabited by human beings who have less than us. We also forget that there are people with enterprising spirits and hearts who are interested in alleviating the suffering of the less fortunate. Hollywood actress Heather Graham is one such person.
Graham, who performed memorably in films like "The Hangover" and "Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me," has been an active member of the The Cambodian Children's Fund. The not for profit organization aims to provide education for children suffering horrific poverty in the East Asian country, whose infrastructure and economy was annihilated during both the Cambodian Civil and Vietnam War.
GlobalGrind caught up with Graham hours before a fundraiser for The Cambodian Children's Fund on Monday night in New York. Here's some of what she said.
GlobalGrind: So why are we here tonight?
Heather Graham: The Cambodian Children’s Fund is the most inspiring thing I’ve ever seen and they are educating these kids that live in garbage dumps. They are giving them an amazing [opportunity for education] – it’s incredible.
Photo credit: Scott Neeson.
GG: You’ve been to Cambodia before. Tell us about your experience there.
Heather: Well, I’ve been twice and the first time I went, I was losing my mind because, with only a little bit of money there, you could make a difference between someone being trafficked, like a five year old, and someone going to school, getting a job and having a normal life. The last time I went with Scott, [Neeson (founder of CCF)] and we were walking around and we found these little girls and they’d never been to school. One was eleven, one was nine and one was five: none of them had been to school. And [Scott] just picked them up and said, “I’m going to enroll them in this program.”
These little girls were dazed, like they couldn’t believe it. Then I came back a couple days later and they were beaming. I sponsored one of them and she wrote me this letter, like she would watch these kids go to school and she was so wishing she could go to school. So, now she’s going to school and she wants to be a teacher.
GG: Tell us the importance of education.
Heather: Well, I think, especially for women, for a lot of women in this country, education makes a huge difference. Men need education, too, but women are so hard working, really. I think it’s the micro finance [loan programs that are responsible]: if you give a woman a loan there’s a 95% chance she’s gonna pay you back. The male percentage is not as good in the developing countries.
Above: A Cambodian child in school.
GG: What do you want to get out of tonight?
Heather: I want people to learn about the charity and get as inspired as me. I want people to support the charity and maybe sponsor some kids; it’ so rewarding, like you get to exchange emails with these kids in Cambodia. It’s amazing. So I want more people to know about it.
GG: If there’s one thing that you can tell someone that wants to give, but doesn’t have the money to give, what should they do?
Heather: Well, if they just go onto the website www.cambodianchildren’sfund.org and learn about it, and maybe [kids can] even talk to their parents about it; just know that this is going on in the world; and know that [Scott Neeson] sold everything and moved to Cambodia and cares about these people and that he’s trying to make the world a better place.
Above: A Cambodian child in school
Two Cambodian boys playing in a refuse dump in Cambodia.
A child runs with a shredded kite on a street in Cambodia.