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Our Story

It all started with an idealistic 19-year-old backpacker, a tuk-tuk tour to an orphanage and a desire to help vulnerable kids in Cambodia.

In 2007, Tara Winkler and Pon Jedtha rescued 14 children from a corrupt and abusive orphanage in Battambang, Cambodia.

They established Cambodian Children’s Trust as an orphanage to provide the children with a safe home. After discovering that the children weren’t orphans, they started the challenging journey of reuniting them with their families and transforming the CCT orphanage into a model of community-led, preventative child protection.

CCT is now driving the care reform movement in Cambodia and setting the blueprint for what is needed across the world – a preventative approach to child protection.

Learn more about our work here.

From orphanage to preventative child protection

CCT's model of community-led, preventative child protection now operates in over 36 villages, preventing hundreds of children a year from separating from families.

CCT's transformation from orphanage to families has shown that it's possible to solve the Orphanage Crisis. If all orphanages made the same transformation that CCT has undertaken, we would see a world in which no child is growing up without the love of family in an orphanage.

Our motto: when we know better, we can do better.

What's the Problem with kids growing up in orphanages anyway?

When children are separated from the people who they are attached and bonded to, a massive biological stress response is triggered and remains activated until their familiar caregiver returns. The most important resource a child can possibly have to buffer the effects of toxic stress is a responsible adult who’s totally devoted to their well-being.

Each day a child remains in an orphanage, separated from their family, the harm is compounded and chances of lifelong consequences are increased.

Young adults who have grown up in institutions are 10 times more likely to fall into sex work; 40 times more likely to have a criminal record; and 500 times more likely to commit suicide.

The number of orphanages across the developing world is skyrocketing. It’s a global phenomenon we call the Orphanage Crisis.

The Orphanage Crisis is caused by us – it’s the increase in donations from well-meaning foreigners – tourists, volunteers and philanthropists – that are causing more orphanages to open and more children to be separated from their families to fill their beds.

Many well-meaning people believe donating to orphanages is a necessary intervention to help vulnerable children, unaware that there’s a better way.

Find out how you can be a part of the solution.

Tara talks about CCT’s journey and the problem with orphanages

Tara Winkler, CCT’s Co-Founder and Managing Director, recently wrote an article that was first published on Daily Life about the orphanage problem and how we can help keep children living with their families. Here’s what Tara had to say… Along with many other Australians, my tears flowed the day Kevin Rudd gave his momentous ‘Sorry Speech’

Watch: Tara Winkler’s TedxTalk

Tara Winkler’s powerful TedxTalk was the most tagged moment from the entire event. Speaking to a packed audience at Sydney’s iconic Opera House, Tara used the platform to drive home important messages against the spread of orphanages in developing countries, how well-intentioned foreign donors are contributing to driving the boom and the harm residential care

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