So instead of building orphanages, Ms Winkler’s Cambodian Children’s Trust (CCT) provides a range of educational and health programs for poor families.
“Yes, I’m not mum any more. I played that role for a little when it was necessary, but that isn’t something that’s sustainable for all those kids,” she said.
“What they really need is a Cambodian mum and dad, and so that’s what we’ve been able to provide them.”
Ms Winkler was 22 when she started volunteering at an orphanage in the town of Battambang, before realising the director was embezzling donations and abusing children.
With permission from local authorities, she set up her own orphanage to house 14 of the children in 2007.
Her work was featured on the ABC’s Australian Story program in 2010, by which time she had 27 children in her care.
“CCT was set up as an orphanage, but now it’s better described as a community development organisation,” she told Australian Story in an updated program to air tonight.
Over 100 children from the local slums attend CCT’s programs each day.
But it has not all been good news for Ms Winkler, who is now 28.
In 2010, a young Cambodian orphan, Jendar Heng, drowned during a CCT outing to the local pool.