Jamie Amelio had expected to be overwhelmed by the beauty, history and culture of Cambodia in 2003 when she visited the country for the first time. What she didn’t expect was to discover that she was called to improve the lives of thousands of Cambodian children crippled by the results of the mass genocide of the 1970s. When the Khmer Rouge regime took power, it obliterated nearly 25% of Cambodia’s population, including most of the educated and professional citizens, leaving future generations with few role models. 15 years after her first visit, Jamie, a tall, lanky blonde Texan, had become a most unexpected model of change and compassion.
Jamie launched Caring for Cambodia (CFC) soon after she returned to her home in Singapore. With the support of over 4,000 contributors and a team of over 250 committed volunteers, CFC now provides a world class education to over 6,400 students from pre-school through high school in 21 schools. Run largely by volunteers, CFC guarantees well-equipped classrooms, locally trained teachers, a meal for every student, uniforms, basic health, hygiene care — and often a bicycle.
CFC has provided life-changing, world-class education to thousands of students since its inception. Schools involved in the CFC program have increased enrollment by an average of 70%. By providing smaller class sizes, enthusiastic trained teachers, food, clothing, transportation, healthcare and fresh water, CFC enables children to improve their lives and earning capacity. 37% of CFC students attend university, trade schools or teacher training colleges. Families frequently move so their children will be eligible to attend CFC schools where tuition is free.
Jamie and her husband Bill now live in Austin, Texas and have six children, including two adopted daughters from Cambodia who are now in their 20’s. She still has a 16- and a 12-year old at home but finds time to speak about the challenge of staying bothered about inequities, raising money for CFC and working to improve the public education system in America. The emotional health and wellbeing of children are of primary importance to her. She is passionate about making sure kids have a support system.
Jamie’s efforts have been recognized by Cambodia: in both 2005 and 2010 she was awarded the prestigious Golden Hand Service Award by the Cambodian government. Additionally, she was named as a 2010 Classic Woman of the Year by Traditional Home Magazine. She is also a published author having written Stumpy the Crocodile, a children’s book about helping neighbors in need. She also penned Graced with Orange, the story of her Cambodian adventure and CFC, to ensure that her kids would understand what took her away from them frequently. We think they should be quite proud.