Posted by Michelle Stefan on Jul 18, 2013

Thursday, July 18, 2013:  Princess Norodom Soma (excerpted from The Phnom Penh Post)

Rotary International has 1.2 million members and more than 33,000 clubs worldwide. Rotary is a community-service organisation providing assistance to poor communities via a wide range of humanitarian and community services. With projects such as the Annual Blood Drive at Sofitel, Kror Boa Village Food Project in Kampong Speu province, Mosquito Nets Donation from United Kingdom, and Safe Water for Cambodian Villages, Rotary Club of Phnom Penh (RCPP) has been serving the Cambodian community since 1995.

Last weekend, RCPP held its major fundraiser of the year, the Rotary Club of Phnom Penh Fundraising Auction 2013. Rotarians and their supporters enjoyed an evening of canapés, wine and cocktails at Rahu restaurant, while supporting a good cause.

The proceeds from the auction will be used for a project called “The MEC Retrieval Program”.

“In conjunction with the Children’s Surgical Centre [CSC], patients suffering from the hideous deformity known as Meningoencephalocele, or MEC, are identified and after counseling, are brought to Phnom Penh for life-saving surgery,” Peter Gray, president of RCPP, said. “There is no cost for this to the patient or their carer.”

RCPP currently has other projects in the pipeline.

“These projects include funding for a home for abused girls, safe drinking water in Kampot, and scientific and laboratory equipment for schools,” added Gray.

The fundraising auction was an effective way to get people together to address an important need. Todd Smith of Ripple Effect Consulting, kept the guests entertained while auctioning off the prizes.

“There is a thread of common interest holding them and they are more likely to freely give in a competitive situation such as an auction,” said Denzil Sprague, Children’s Rights International (CRI) Representative for Cambodia.

“The generosity of the bidders and those who donated the items for the auction means that many poor people who come to the CSC can be treated successfully and embark on a new life because of that surgical treatment.”

Sprague donated a two-hour sunset cruise on the Mekong Dolphin for the auction.

Jay Cohen, country manager for Kelvin Chia Partnership (KCP), a commercial law firm, believes that fulfilling your civic responsibilities is important in Cambodia.

“As a foreigner in Cambodia, I think it is important to have a positive impact on the country,” said Cohen. “We are guests in Cambodia, and Cambodia has given us so much in terms of opportunities and experiences, thus it is important to give something back.”

The proceeds from the auction came to just over $6,000.

Jay Cohen unsuccessfully bid on several items such as restaurant dinners and a set of golf clubs. He did win, however, a dinner for two at the Exchange Restaurant & Bar. I attended my first RCPP auction and I too walked away with the winning bid: a dinner at Rahu.

The 2013-2014 RCPP officials are: Peter Gray (president 2nd), Robert Wightman (vice president), Ronnie Eide (secretary), William White (treasurer), and Michael Wright and André Struve (board members).

For information about RCPP, contact Peter Gray at