This Organization Closed Their Orphanage and I Love Them for It.

The average American will see an average of 19,000,000 advertisements by their 18th birthday. Every single one of these ads represents a company asking you to your give hard-earned money to support and buy into what they are doing. It would be an understatement to say our culture is crowded with financial requests.

Most requests are not even relevant to us, but random. Most of these are interruptions, and the companies are hoping that their advertisement can simply be the least rude interruption of the day.

I hate this. Most of what I do is because I want to see people connect with brands they love because of the stories they tell.

Particularly in the charity space, this is more feasible. It is difficult for a business to find a compelling story, but charities, not as much. A charity exists because they see something that needs to be fixed and they are trying to tell that story in order to engage people with their work (or at least they should be).

I started working actively and professionally in the charity space at 16 and I had the privilege to work with several amazing organizations of different shapes and sizes. Over time, I saw many organizations who truly were working towards the best means to meet the needs they were passionate about. I also saw many organizations who were doing the same thing as other organizations, just marketing to a different market. Often there was little effort made to determine if their approach was the best way or if was just the common or easy way to do things.

I want to see organizations passionate about doing the uncommon things; passionate about doing things the best way. This is why one of our favorite organizations at Story On is Asian Hope. Their story is marked by change and transformation which was initiated by the stories of those they served.

Cambodia has a broken, tragic, yet hopeful story.

Although Asian Hope is 16 years old, their story started in the late 1970’s. In the aftermath of the Vietnam War, there was a genocide in the nation of Cambodia where the leader Pol Pot desired to eliminate the family structure, education professionals, and religious establishments from the Cambodian culture.

After several years and approximately 1.4 million deaths, the nation of Cambodia was broken. Over the next few decades, the Vietnamese ran the country, as did the United Nations, and in the early 1990’s there was a renewed authority in the hands of the Cambodian people.

Between the mid 90’s and 2005, thousands of orphanages were established in Cambodia to take care of the millions of orphaned children in the country. One of these orphanages was built by Asian Hope.

At the time, this seemed like the best way to help. But since then, UNICEF has performed in-depth research and realized that upwards of 77% of children in Cambodian orphanages are not actually orphans; most have surviving family members they could be living with.

In 2005, after going through a leadership transition, Asian Hope began to analyze their programs carefully, asking questions to see if the work they were doing was the work that was needed. After three years of research, prayer, and analyzing how other organizations were doing things, they realized they needed to make some changes.

Asian Hope closed the doors of their orphanage. No more new children and no more new orphanages. The students in the current orphanage were taken care of through high school and many of them graduated from College, a rare feat for a Cambodian student. But beyond that, Asian Hope made a commitment to no longer run any orphanages but rather to invest their efforts in education.

Asian Hope has realized over the last decade that education is prevention. They have come to the compelling conclusion that the best way to fight poverty in Cambodia is to take their programs to the families rather than pulling children from the families. They are now supporting and educating families in a way that empowers them to break free from poverty.

The current focus of Asian Hope programs are their private schools reaching the middle class of Cambodia and their Village Development Program. The VDP is giving children in extreme poverty the resources they need to advance in life and in school, along with providing training and education for parents on how to raise healthy families.

We love charities who are committed to doing more than running programs that may be easy to market, but rather those who are committed to truly helping people in the way they need help the most. Asian Hope is committed to this work, even when it is messy.

As we have had the privilege to get to know Asian Hope better, we have grown to trust them because we know they are moved by a conviction to do what is best, no matter what.

The nation of Cambodia will never be the same because of the work of Asian Hope. What if your child could not pass 5th grade because you didn’t have money to pay for bribes? What if you could not provide for your family but a pimp would pay you lots of (food) money if your daughter came to work for him? Asian Hope’s work is putting and end to these problems. For just $1.38 a day you can bring hope to 1 Child for 1 Year. To get involved, go here.

*This story originally appeared at

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I am passionate about telling stories of businesses and charities doing things right. Asian Hope’s commitment to integrity is refreshing. What are other organizations unapologetically committed to doing things right?