Saturday, December 26, 2015

# 178 Scott Neeson admits that homes are not ‘gifted’ to poor families!

“The ambitious goal was to create community-oriented homes that operated on a principle of a one-for-one real estate gifting model that allows families to rent homes at an affordable price. Post Property spoke with Graham Brewster, the managing director of World Housing about the success of the project.”

Communal spaces!

It is a step in the right direction that Scott Neeson is now admitting, in a public relations interview conducted with the Phnom Penh Post, that homes are not ‘gifted’ to poor families but rented to them.

It is also a step in the right direction that Scott Neeson is being a little more open about the cost of these homes:

“How much does it cost for each home to be constructed?

The cost is approximately $2,500 for the home itself.

Why then are World Housing and the Cambodian Children’s Fund asking donors for $5,000 per house? The answer could be found in the following:

“…what we’ve learned is that there is much more that goes into building a successful and thriving community, from the initial land preparation to community facilities like wash-houses, playgrounds, communal spaces, fencing, pathways and gardens. This is what makes it a true community, which can thrive long term, rather than a cluster of homes.”

Another communal space!

On my visits to two such communities I saw no evidence of ‘communal spaces’, ‘playgrounds’ or ‘gardens’. Perhaps I did not look closely enough. I will do so the next time I am in Cambodia.

As to whether these things “make it a true community” I have my doubts. A true community is created by members of the community and not by an academic in Vancouver, Canada (Dupuis) and a PR Man (Neeson) in Cambodia. The question arises:

“To what extent do the families renting houses/homes from CCF/World Housing have a say in how their communities are set up?”

Despite CCF and World Housing now admitting that the houses are rented and not ‘gifted’ to families, the Phnom Penh Post has not yet quite got the message; asking the following question:

“Since the beginning, how many homes have been handed over to families?

We’ve built 360 homes and housed 1,800 people and are building more all the time. While most of these have been in communities in Steung Meanchey, we’ve also built a number of communities in different provinces across the country.”

Memo to journalist:

The question should have been “How many houses are now being rented to families?”

Communal gardens?

Given that less than 200 houses have been put up in Steung Meanchey it seems that around 160 have been erected in “different provinces across the country.”

It is interesting that none of these provincial  houses  have been featured in any photos or previous publicity! Which provinces have these houses been put up in? Are journalists welcome to visit these pilot schemes and talk with the families who are now renting their homes from World Housing/Cambodian Children’s Fund? Are these same journalists also welcome to visit the communities in Steung Meanchey and talk with the families renting homes?

Future slum under construction?

The advertisement in the Phnom Penh Post, posing as journalism, shies away from the question of who owns the land upon which the houses are being erected:

“In terms of issuing land titles for the homes that are built, do they belong to the families, the NGO or government property?

As for land, the most common arrangement in Steung Meanchey is to arrange a long-term lease on a large parcel, where families can live with the security that they will not be evicted off the land at a moment’s notice. In other cases, the land is owned by the local partner, or in some cases (particularly in the provinces), the land is owned by the families themselves.

Families living on the leased land in Steung Meanchey make a monthly contribution of $15, which contributes to the upkeep of their community, land rental, and maintenance of the communal facilities. More importantly however, this small payment provides a sense of pride of ownership in the home and community.”

The community drainage system in operation!

It would be interesting to ask the family members themselves if they believe their $15 a month in rent gives them a sense of ownership. And, given that families can be (and have been) evicted for not obeying Scott Neeson’s rules and regulations, it would be intersting to ask if they feel secure within the communities or if they feel they have no choice but to toe the line in order to avoid eviction.

A whole host of questions that still require answers; questions that the Phnom Penh Post is clearly not going to ask.

Whoever owns the land that is being leased  and upon which the houses are being erected is becoming, month by month, increasingly wealthy. Who is this person? Or, if there is more than one, who are they?  This is the $64,000 question.

Were families consulted in the design of the new community being constructed for them?

 The Phnom Penh Post advertorial can be found in full at:

Monday, December 21, 2015

# 177 Scott Neeson's world Housing Scam Revisited

Scott Neeson's world Housing Scam Revisited

December 2015

"What does World Housing Do?

World housing gifts homes to families living in slums..."

As has been clear for many months now, World Housing does not 'gift' houses to families living in slums. The houses are 'gifted' to whoever owns the land upon which the houses are erected.They are then rented to 'slum families'.

World Housing, in conjunction with the Cambodian Children's Fund is deceiving sponsors and donors, whilst enriching whoever owns the land.

This is a scam!

From: Graham Brewster  <>
Date: 16 December 2015 1:01:11 pm AEST
To: xxxxxxx
Subject: Re: Info pack

Hi xxxxxxx, 

Great to hear from you, and thanks for reaching out. Not too sure what happened on the first go-round, but I will look into it for sure. If it was around December 1 there was a short period of time when some emails were lost as we were having the new website/domain go live. If that was the case the best I can do is apologize!

As for sponsoring a home, we would be extremely grateful. The cost to gift a home in your name is $5,000, and more information can be found on our website at I encourage you also to watch the video that shared more on our Legacy Community Project. If you have any additional questions - I'm always happy to answer. 

In terms of programs on the ground (in Cambodia specifically), we are working with the Cambodian Children's Fund, who provide life-changing support and community services to the families that move into the new homes. More information can be found on their website here

A home gifted would make an incredible impact. I thank you in advance, and would love the opportunity to meet you to thank you for your (and your husband's) generosity. 


Graham Brewster

For most of us, the word 'gift' conjures up the idea of something given for free; not something rented. In the PR world of Scott Neeson 'gift' and 'gifted' can mean whatever he wants to make them mean!

A few months ago the Cambodian Children's Fund was billing World Housing a little more than half this $5,000 quote for the same houses - houses that cost around $1,000 to manufacture.

Why this sudden and very rapid rise in the cost of the houses?

Should it be the role of a Vancouver-based academic (Pete Dupuis) to take it upon himself, in conjunction with Scott Neeson, to "build a thriving community" or is the building of communities something that Cambodians are more than capable of doing themselves? 

Cambodians have their own social structures, developed over hundreds of years. Should Western social engineers be telling Cambodians how to "build a thriving community"? 

This question is particularly important since Scott Neeson insists that everyone living within the community not only sign a contract that they are not allowed to keep a copy of but that they abide by his rules and regulations or they will be kicked out of the community. 

This is not a non-profit initiative. Donors will be contributing $5,000 towards the building of a house that costs $1,000 or, if the cost of construction is taken into account, $1,500 at most. What happens to the $3,500 in profit?

And, given that the houses are owned by the owner of the land, he or she is not only receiving housing free of charge (and thereby increasing the value of his or her land) but is able to charge rent to the 'slum families' who are engaged in this Neeson/Dupuis experiment in social engineering.  

Scott Neeson refuses to real who is the owner of the land and hence who is the actual recipient of the 'gifted' homes. 

If this 'gifting' scam takes off globally (and it seems, on paper, to be a great idea) there are tens of millions of dollars to be made by World Housing.

Friday, December 18, 2015

# 176 Is Scott Neeson's Cambodian Children's Fund an orphanage in disguise?

Cambodia: too many orphanages, not enough orphans

Cambodia's tourist orphanages

Lindsay Murdoch, Sydney Morning Herald

Cambodian orphanages are increasingly used to service a tourist industry that has sprung up around Westerners visiting them.

Phnom Penh: There is no need for an appointment or to show identification and no questions are asked at this so called "orphanage". Strangers can walk off the street into bedrooms, where up to 12 children sleep crammed together on stained mattresses.

The smiling children know the routine – they run to the visitors, calling out in unison: "Hello, welcome!"

But strangers should not come to this house tucked away in a Phnom Penh suburb, behind high iron gates, which is home to 65 children aged between five and 17.

International research shows that orphanages and residential care institutions take a toll onchildren's emotional and personal development because they are separated from their families. This leaves them vulnerable to exploitation and abuse and seemingly endless broken relationships.

Much of their plight comes at the hands of mostly well-intentioned foreigners. Australians are among the largest donors and volunteers in Cambodia's booming orphanage industry.

A newly released survey of tourists in the Cambodian town of Siem Reap, near the Angkor Wat temple complex, found that 70 per cent of potential volunteers at the country's orphanages believe that residential care is the best way for children from poor families to get access to an education.

According to Friends International, a non-government social enterprise organisation , 75 per cent of potential volunteers were not aware that most children in residential centres in Cambodia are not orphans and 60 per cent did not know orphanages were sometimes run as profit-making businesses. 
Despite a five-year campaign by Friends International and other NGOs warning that children should be kept in their communities except in emergencies, the number of children living in 600 orphanages and residential care centres in Cambodia has grown to a record 47,900, according to a recent survey by the Cambodian government and the UN children's agency UNICEF.
Indeed, the number of orphanages across the country has doubled in the past five years, while the number of orphans has dramatically decreased.

There are now seven times more children in Cambodia's institutions than there were in the early 1980s, when the aftermath of the Khmer Rouge's murderous rule left an estimated 74,000 children without parents. 

The government, under pressure from UN agencies and a consortium of more than 50 NGOs, is moving to implement a law requiring that children's residential centres be approved and registered, which is aimed at forcing many to close. The government wants to reduce the number of children in orphanages by 30 per cent in three years.

But Cambodia's supervising ministry of social affairs employs only 14 social workers in a country where corruption is endemic and unscrupulous orphanages have flourished for decades.

Social workers warn that many of the children have become money-making tourist attractions and sexual abuse is suspected of being rife in centres where there are few checks to identify western child abusers who travel to Cambodia to gain easy and unsupervised access to children in care. 

The former director of an anti-paedophile NGO has been charged with sexually abusing 11 boys under his care in an orphanage he headed.

In the early afternoon, half a dozen children from Phnom Penh's Poor Street Children and Orphans Training Centre rehearse for a classical Khmer dance and monkey performance a few hours later for well-heeled foreign tourists sipping sunset cocktails.

The children are given $US1 to buy food or pencils or books following the performance, while the orphanage pockets $130 from a tour operator.

The founder of the orphanage spent months in jail before being acquitted of sexually abusing an 11-year-old girl under his care.

The centre's manager, Chanthou Thoeun, bows and brings his hands together at chest level in a traditional Khmer greeting, telling visitors they are free to interact with the children, whom he at first says are orphans, but when pressed admits most of them are not. . 

"The children go to school but there are difficulties finding enough money to buy food for them … there is malnutrition … we hope you can help us," he says, signalling that a donation is expected from visitors.

Ame, a volunteer in her mid-20s from California who has been living with the children for almost three weeks, sprawls on the floor of a bedroom watching cartoons on her smartphone with three children.

"I love the kids. This has been an incredible experience … I didn't know anything about Cambodia . . . the toilets have no paper and you have to squat," she says. "I will be blessed when I return home."

Research shows volunteers like Ame usually leave orphanages feeling good that they have helped poor and abandoned children, and who probably showered them with affection.

But they will have almost certainly added to the psychological harm to the children, who become adept at appearing cute and engaging with strangers, behaviour   that is often mistaken for genuine friendliness and happiness

Fifteen year-old Ben Raksa, who has been at the orphanage for 10 years, says the children are taught to impress the strangers who arrive every hour or so because they donate money so that he and other children can be educated. .

Raksa says one Australian couple in their mid-50s took a group of the children for a beach holiday. "We were very happy," he says.

About a quarter of Cambodia's residential care centres are run by religious organisations, most of them with proselytising missions, adding to the difficulties of the children, who are often overwhelmed as they try to integrate back into a deeply Buddhist society when they leave the institutions.

The US-supported Foursquare Church, which runs 100 centres across Cambodia, resists the residential care label and the regulations that come with it, declaring on its website: "We do not run orphanages. We run churches, always have. Always will! And healthy churches care for the homeless."

A Phnom Penh Post reporter who visited one of the centres on an island in Cambodia's central Kampong Chhang province reported in late November that children were living in sleeping on   torn mattresses in rooms that reeked of urine.

Sebastien Marot, executive director of Friends International, says one of the biggest concerns is the recruitment of volunteers from universities in Australia and other countries to work in orphanages.

A new Friends International campaign centres on the message: "Your donations don't help orphans – they create them", a blunt message to thousands of well-intentioned Australians who sponsor children, or spend weeks or even months working in orphanages or residential centres.

"Guys, stop. Think about what you are doing. This should not be about doing something so you can feel good about yourself," Marot says, adding that Australians should support programs that help keep families together, such as income generation and social support programs.

"Kids are dying in our hospitals every day through a lack of blood ... why not help by donating some blood? Things like that," he says.

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

# 175 Scott Neeson plays fast and loose with the truth....again!

Scott Neeson is the penultimate PR man. He will say whatever he needs to say in any particular situation to achieve whatever goal he has set for himself. And he is very good at it and the media, by and large, laps it up.

In Scott Neesonland truth gets mixed up with fiction and no-one, unless they look very closely and ask a few questions, will be able to figure out where truth ends and the fiction begins.

“At a meeting held this week in Phnom Penh, His Excellency Vong Soth, Minister for Social Affairs, Veterans and Youth Rehabilitation (MoSVY) and CCF Founder and Executive Director Scott Neeson discussed the importance of setting rigid guidelines for NGOs dealing with vulnerable children.

The Minister expressed his appreciation at CCF’s support of the Royal Government’s regulations regarding residential care for vulnerable children.  The Minister said that all NGOs need to apply this new policy and meet the standards that have been set, and congratulated Scott and CCF on their efforts to help vulnerable people.  

Neeson congratulated the Minister on the residential care policy, saying enforcing it will go a long way to protecting the rights of vulnerable children and safeguarding against unscrupulous people opening residential care facilities for their own personal gain.

According to Scott’s own figures, as presented to the IRS in 2013, it costs CCF $2,000 a year to provide accommodation to one child in residential care and another $2,000 per year to educate this child. That’s $4,000 a year for a child who is in residential care and going to school. This is is more than double, often triple and sometimes four times as much as this child’s family earns in a year working in the rubbish dump.

Neeson committed to make CCF a model NGO that the ministry can use as a standard for how the residential care guidelines should be implemented by other NGOs.

In the last two years, CCF has built more than 360 homes for families in the Steung Meanchey community.  CCF’s extensive child care, community support and healthcare programs enable children to live at home with their families while attending CCF’s award-winning education program.

CCF has not built 360 homes. The number is 180. And the houses, owned by whoever owns the land, have only been built ‘for families’ in the sense that families get to rent the houses from the owner of the houses and land. Who this person is, is a closely guarded secret.

A number of basic services encourage school attendance, starting with the provision of subsidized rice.

Subsidized rice amounts to $120 a year for the family of a child in residential care – not much compared to the $2,000 or $4,000 a year CCF is pulling in per child whilst the rest of the family survives on $1,000 a year.

CCF’s support increases in line with the family’s commitment to regular schooling, providing safe domestic situations and preventing the child from undertaking labor.

Some children attending CCF schools are also working in the rubbish dump to help support their families.

Families who prioritise their child’s education, provide safe living conditions free from domestic violence or drug and alcohol abuse are provided the option of moving into a World Housing home.

Although a more complex approach to ensure regular school attendance, this model keeps the child and family together. Most of all, it works, with remarkably low absentee rates, increased parental engagement and a new sense of hope.

CCF does not keep families together. I have met parents who ask for their children to be returned to their care who are told that they have signed their parental rights away with the contract they put their thumb print to. The parents are not allowed to keep a copy of the contract and Scott Neeson refuses to allow anyone to see or read it.

Of the more than 2,250 children in CCF’s education program, 88% stay with their families each night or, if in higher education, at least twice a week.

Some basic arithmetic is required here. CCF claims to be spending $2,000 per year on the education of one child. Given that the majority of 2,250 children are going to free government schools, for half a day at least, and sleeping with their families, how is this $2,000 a year being spent?

For children who come from outside of Phnom Penh, CCF arranges regular transport back to their families once or twice a month. Parents are encouraged to visit their children and, if necessary, CCF will pay for their transportation.

CCF encourages children to live with their families, and re-integrates children from residential care if changes in their family situation make it safe for them to move home.  Children learn more and function better when part of the community.

CCF refuses to return children to their families if parents ask to be re-united with their children

The Minister congratulated CCF on its commitment to finding resources and supporting families to keep children living at home.  He praised the CCF Granny Program, which not only provides care for elderly people in the Steung Meanchey community, but also builds connections between the younger generation of CCF students and the wisdom of older people in the community.

In the meeting, Minister  H.E. Vong Soth, “expressed his endless support to the organization for carrying out its duty so far on the development of the whole society, especially on helping to further promote the construction of houses for poor families in the community.”
Accepting an invitation to attend a World Housing opening, the Minister said MoSVY will fully cooperate and support CCF in its efforts to assist the impoverished children in Cambodia.

CCF is not constructing houses for poor families. CCF is using donor and sponsor monies to buy houses which it then rents to poor families. The houses are owned by whoever owns the land upon which they are built.

Sponsors, donors and members of the 4th Estate should ask Neeson who owns the land.

Everything Neeson says about CCF needs to be taken with a huge grain of salt.