2007 Newsletter

Dear Starfish friends,

The Starfish Bakery & Café has continued to run successfully and provide much needed employment for Cambodian people with disabilities. During 2006 and early 2007, the Bakery & Café saw an enormous increase in guests, partly due to our new cooperation with package tours from TUI Sweden, Norway and Finland as well as Swedish travel agency Ving and our long term relationship with Intrepid. We have been very pleased with this successful cooperation and will be happy to receive even more tour guests in the next high season 2007/2008.

The last year has brought many new faces into the Starfish family. In August we welcomed Pary in the kitchen. Pary has a quick eye for what needs to be done and she has been fast to learn the kitchen routines.
The workload of the project has now been eased with the welcome addition of Sopheak as our new outreacher.
Sala Santapeap Massage continues to grow and has since last year been rebuilt and we welcomed Kee from Kampot as our new masseur.

With the support of Stop Exploitation Now we were able to construct a high speed internet center which has proven to be a success. We welcomed Ran as Internet Manager; he has proven to be hard working and devoted to his task. We are happy to have Ran on the team.

Cambodian handicrafts and goods shop Rajana moved in on the top floor and our cooperation has been very good. Rajana produces and sells local handicrafts, thus providing young Cambodians with a meaningful employment. Bo Prock and Kanja are doing a fantastic job decorating and taking care of the shop.

In 2007 we hope to continue to develop Starfish Café. The kitchen is in much need of reparation, so our main goal during the low season is to modernize and redecorate the café, adding more space for customers and new baking equipment for the kitchen. The staff has been listing this as their number one wish, and we must say that they are doing a great job with the limited space and tools they have had to work with for the last 6 years.

The generosity of all our donors and supporters in 2006 has enabled us to continue to follow an annual trend of increasing and expanding the size and scope of Starfish’s activities. Much has happened as Starfish has developed and grown more than ever in the past years.

Last year, Starfish was formally registered as a local non-governmental organization (NGO) operating in Cambodia. This registration enables us to apply for formal funding from various sources in order to complete projects on a larger and/or more specific scale.

During 2006 we have established a well-functioning referral system with our partner organizations in Sihanoukville, which have resulted in an ever increasing number of clients reaching us through other organizations. We have also been able to transfer some of our clients to other organizations for assistance we cannot provide. We are happy to know that this referral system enables vulnerable community members to always find the help they need.

The Starfish Project raised a total of $ 47,132.30 for the year 2006, $14,226.30 more than monies collected in 2005. This money was raised through donations from our ever-increasing range of supporters and customers and the sale of t-shirts, bags and other goods at Starfish Bakery & Café. The Starfish Bakery & Café has continued to provide for the administrative costs of the Project, ensuring that 100% of donated funds are spent on providing services to Project clients.

The money raised during the year of 2006 has enabled Starfish to assist 466 Cambodian individuals and their families as well as 24 communities in a broad range of areas, at an average cost of $96.8 per project undertaken. In 2006 Starfish provided 335 people with access to, and funding for, emergency medical assistance. The assistance provided in this area included referrals to appropriate medical institutions, the provision of food support and transport, funds for medicine and medical tests and appropriate follow-up care.

In 2006 Starfish arranged for the establishment of 33 new businesses and built 66 new homes for clients and their families. 22 water wells were constructed in numerous small villages and communities, each well providing between 35-70 families with access to clean water. Two community clean-ups have also been undertaken and three community toilets were constructed.

Thanks to our partner organization Saint Frantiers we have been able to offer micro credit loans to families; we have so far started 37 successful micro credit businesses in various communities.

The Project has also provided food and nutritional support to pregnant women and mothers in prison, vital formula and vitamin support for clients with malnourished babies, referrals to rehabilitation and physiotherapy for clients with physical disabilities and access to proper medical care for clients with HIV or other long term needs. Six students with disabilities have received school support to be able to continue their higher education. Four children have received long-term care for mental problems in Kampong Speu and Kampot.

On the 20th of April 2007, a village near Otres Beach was burned down and demolished by a large number of police and military men following a land dispute. 13 men were arrested, one of whom was a minor. The eviction left 107 families homeless and without means to support them selves.
Starfish has since cooperated with M’lop Tapang and LICADHO in order to provide the families with roofs, medical care and food. We have distributed plastic roofs, medicines, rice, tuna, noodles, fishing nets and mosquito nets. We have also helped sick people from the village to reach emergency health care when needed.

We are continuously working on improving our projects, focus this year is:
– Improving the referral systems, activities and training on prevention care for mothers with malnourished babies.
– Community clean ups, water and sanitation projects
– Micro credit loans to families for business startups.
– Cooperation and referral systems with public medical facilities in Phnom Penh, to improve the care for poor people.

None of the work carried out by Starfish would have been possible without the financial support, time and energy generously given by our donors, supporters and volunteers. A very heartfelt thank you!

A special merci to Helene who has left us after 6 months as a Starfish volunteer. We miss you and wish you all the best in the future!

We thank you once again for all your support during 2006 and look forward to working in partnership with you again in 2007.