Garfien: A firsthand glimpse into A New Day Cambodia's impact

Garfien: A firsthand glimpse into A New Day Cambodia's impact
July 9, 2012, 5:50 pm
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PHNOM PENH, Cambodia -- If life is like winning the lottery, these are children who came into this world with no chance of even getting a ticket.

They were born and raised in one of the worst slums on the planet, an area in the city of Phnom Penh where the living conditions arent safe for a rat or insect let alone a human being.

Theres waste, disease, and poverty. No toilets, no running water, no hope.

Adjacent to this village is a vast garbage dump where kids spend their childhood picking through large mountains of waste, working for 25 cents a day.

The images of this place are so disturbing that when you witness it, you never forget it.

For Bill and and his wife Lauren Smith, its become their mission in life to do whatever they can to change it.

Bill is the longtime team photographer for the Bulls, Blackhawks, and Bears. For the last four decades he has been there to capture some of the greatest moments in the history of Chicago sports. His scrapbook is filled with dynamic photos featuring the likes of Jordan, Payton, Kane, Rose and Rodman.

When it comes to sports, he has seen it all. But nothing could prepare him for what he saw on the other side of his lens when he found this dreaded place of poverty and despair 10 years ago.

For Bill, they are images he couldnt ignore. His life would never be the same. And now, the same holds true for many others.

In 2006, Smith and his longtime friend Joe ONeil, Senior Director of Ticket Operations for the Bulls, formed A New Day Cambodia, a foundation that has rescued over 100 children from the garbage dump, providing food, shelter, education and a real first chance in life.

Neither of them had any experience running a charity. Now they operate one 8,700 miles away...and the results are staggering.

Despite coming to them with limited schooling or none whatsoever, children have started going to college, others have gotten jobs in the workforce, while many between the ages of 6 and 16 currently live at the center, making remarkable progress.

Were here in Cambodia to see first-hand how Smiths foundation has drastically changed the path of these childrens lives. Later this week, well be along as they rescue more children from the garbage dump.

The video and slideshow above will give a closer look at what is happening here.

Well have daily updates throughout the week here on CSNChicago.com. A full show will air on Comcast SportsNet at a later date.

Click here for more information on A New Day Cambodia.