With the assistance of a Sydney couple and a grant from the Chase Foundation, Geraldine co-founded the Australia Cambodia Foundation. Geraldine had been on holiday in Cambodia and had seen many children in great need. She decided she needed to do something about it and moved to the country.  Geraldine Cox grew up in Adelaide and studied at the Metropolitan Business College. After many jobs and travels, she joined the Department of Foreign Affairs. She worked for the department for 17 years, stationed in Australian embassies in Cambodia, the Philippines, Thailand, Iran and the United States. After leaving the organisation, she started working at the Chase Manhattan Bank in Sydney.

While the Foundation was becoming established, Geraldine earned a living working with then First Prime Minister, Prince Ranariddth, but following the coup she was left without a job. On the positive side however, it meant that she was able to spend more time on Foundation matters and with the children at the orphanage. Two years later, she was given Cambodian Citizenship by King Norodum Sihanouk, by Royal Decree, and made a Member of the Order of Australia. She was nominated as South Australian of the Year.

The children she helps have come from very sad and troubled backgrounds, with abuse and abandonment being key issues. Some of the children have literally been thrown onto rubbish heaps, or have been burnt with acid to make them better beggars. Sunrise provides them with a loving home, along with quality health care and education opportunities which are beyond the reach of most Cambodians. Some of the Sunrise children have gone on to graduate in fields such as dentistry, hospitality, IT, insurance, mechanics, banking, sales and advertising. Those who study in Australia return to their home country after their degree to help make Cambodia a better place.

Geraldine has written a book, Home Is Where the Heart Is, was the subject of 'My Khmer Heart', which won the Hollywood Film Festival Documentary of the Year Award. 

She now spends around nine months of the year living at Sunrise Children's Village, 20 kilometres outside Phnom Penh and the rest of the time travels to Australia, Asia and the United States to raise much needed funds. There are currently three Sunrise Children's Villages in the country, and they care for around 400 children in total.

In addition to her work with Sunrise, Geraldine serves on the board of the International Advisory Board of Oasis Africa Australia, and she was awarded the Circle of Courage Award from the Australian charity, Youth Off the Streets. The same year, she was named a Paul Harris Fellow by the Rotary Foundation.

Geraldine's story has been featured on Australian Story, The Sunday Program, This Is Your Life, Four Corners, Today Tonight, The 7.30 Report and 60 Minutes, Talking Heads and the 7pm Project.

 

Geraldine Cox speaker

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