In 1994, Robert felt called to help the children in Cambodia after watching a TV program, “Inside Asia” on child prostitution in Cambodia. After two weeks of “discussion and negotiation with God”, he made his first trip to Cambodia in 1995 and has since, never looked back. Serving as a philanthropist and volunteer, he learned that while many are keen to receive his funds, they are less enthusiastic about revealing in detail how the funds were spent. He decided that the best way would be to set up a foundation that owns the properties and assets, recruit the local staff and executes the programs with regular supervision from Singapore. Rather than donating money to third parties in the countries concerned, OHF will set up its own entities in the various countries and build, manage and own its facilities. In this way, accountability and soft skills can be implemented in a structured and disciplined manner. Operation Hope Foundation was registered as a charity in Singapore and incorporated as a company limited by guarantee on 4 July 2001 (Company registration 200104386W).
To date, OHF has a large children’s home, Hope Village Prey Veng with 130 children and a separate training facility Hope Training Centre in Cambodia. Both facilities cover a land area of 150,000 sq ft. In Thailand, we have started Hope Legacy Village Thailand with a twenty year lease on an 800,000 sq ft property in Phitsanulok province. In Nepal, we have an existing children’s home in Kathmandu and is in the midst of constructing a new home in Pokhara.
Besides children’s homes, OHF has expanded into the area of community development and skills training. In Cambodia, we have been building houses, toilets and wells for many years with a well developed set of protocols for selection, construction and audit. We intend to expand this community program with our OHF Solutions projects. TJSSS is a program that teaches rural school leavers computer and English to give them an opportunity to secure a better paid job. It is a residential program since students live in villages that are far away from the training centre. Many TJSSS graduates have found better jobs as they gained confidence in speaking English and is able to use a computer not only for Office but to develop mind maps, flow charts and other tools that could help them in their work.
OHF Solutions is an exciting program that develops appropriate technology for the poor. Over the years, OHF has experimented with solar cooker, rainwater harvestings, composting, drip irrigation and vegetable processing. We work with tertiary institutions using student projects to explore proof of concept studies in various areas. We are seeking funding to expand OHF Solutions.
The OHF story is one of a hands-on charity that is conscious of the benefit-to-cost ratio where it weighs the benefits received by the poor to the cost of providing that benefit. Often charities speak of WHAT they do rather than HOW they do. We want to focus on both the WHAT and HOW to ensure donations are properly used. This requires a heavy dose of micro-management to set up procedures and reporting protocols. There can be no MACRO MANAGEMENT with no MICRO MANAGEMENT in place! Robert brings his years of experience as an entrepreneur and running his own companies to enable OHF to operate effectively and efficiently. It does not rely solely on reports but a SYSTEM of reports, procedures and field visits that ensures proper expenditure and detects fraud.
INSIGHTS FROM A BUSINESSMAN AND PHILANTHROPIST
From 16 years of being in the field, Robert has authored several books offering different perspectives on helping the poor, social work, and the stark contrasts of living in an affluent society versus a developing country.
To get copies of these books, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Title: Changing Lives: Hard truths about helping the poor
Have you wondered how your donations are translated into actual benefits for the poor in developing countries?
- Do you know what is the cost-benefit ratio? Cost is the expense of the project while benefit is what is actually received by the ppor.
- Have you wondered how an orphanage is run and how they prepare the children for their future?
- In a cash economy with no credit, how can kickbacks and fraud be prevented?
- How much of a child sponsor's donation actually goes to look after, care for and develop the sponsored child?
- Have you wondered which charity you should support? Do you know what questions to ask to ensure your donations are used for the purposes you want?
This book provides practical answers and insights to these questions.
Title: Who Is My Neighbour?
A case for social action and evangelism
Love our neighbour is a command that penetrates deep into the Christian soul. It is a call to put faith into action. This book puts together the various proverbs, parables and teachings of Jesus into a convincing argument that sees good works as a fruit of salvation. Good works substantiates and authenticates the gospel.
This book is for Christians who need encouragement and support that their social work is as important as evangelism. It is for missionaries who has to defend their social work against churches who evaluates their performance solely on the basis on how many churches are planted. It is for the many Christian orphanages, shelters, livelihood ministries that are struggling from lack of support and understanding of what they are trying to achieve. It is for Christian leaders who want churches to be part of the solutions of the many problems faced by the world today.
Title: A Sense Of God And A Feeling of Heaven
This book is about my personal journey that tries to bridge the gap between Sunday sermons and what happens on Monday. It is how the search for a meaningful and practical faith over 10 years took me to Philippines, Cambodia, Thailand, Vietnam and Nepal. It is, at most times, an unplanned journey where all I need is obedience to enter doors that God has opened, and where often I was rewarded with unexpected joy.
It is hard to be a thinking Christian; one who questions the validity and authenticity of the Christian faith, of the relevance of current religious dogma, and perpetually comparing the walk of the talk. It is even harder to be a practical Christian, who needs to put his faith and beliefs into practice. There is a huge gap between what is taught by Jesus and what is being practiced. At times, it seems as if two different religions were being taught; an ideal one for us to aspire to and feel proud of and a practical one, which we can easily obey and feel good about. I need a faith that is more than an idea, a living faith that sustains me seven days a week and not just on Sundays and one which I can embrace passionately and hold onto until death.
Title: The 25 Cents Meal And The $50 Buffet
Living in an affluent society, we are trapped by our need for comfort and security. Life becomes sterile, repetitive and boring. With globalisation, competition has intensified and many jobs have gone global, seeking the most talented employees at the lowest cost. Robert explores an alternative career and lifestyle in this book. Working for a charity in a third world country is not as impossible as it may seem. It provides an opportunity not only to make a difference, but to grow and develop as we meet challenges after challenges. Knowing that our work matters, our life becomes precious and fulfilling. We find life varied and meaningful as we work to provide hope for orphans, jobs for poverty stricken villagers and community projects that provides more food, better sanitation and improved health. For those of us in the second half of our lives, we can make it count and live a life of passion and purpose. The photos are taken during OHF's projects in Cambodia, Nepal and Laos. See the joy in the faces of the children and the poor. They need us as much as we need them!