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Oregon Coast Winery Owner Expands Humanitarian Efforts in Cambodia
(Nehalem, Oregon) - Ray Shackelford, owner of Nehalem Bay Winery and Depoe Bay Winery, is expanding his humanitarian efforts in a downtrodden region of Cambodia.
In recent years, his money and actual manpower helped build two schools and a sewing industry that helps create an economy for two towns. Now, in the Cambodian village of Trung Treung - about 90 miles southwest of Phenom Pen, the orphanage that began last year has expanded from one building to three, allowing for more babies to be rescued.
Through Shackelford’s Anyway Foundation, he has raised about $3000 to help these impoverished people and others in the region not just survive but to help themselves. But the vast majority of the money spent - in the tens of thousands - has come from his own pocket.
Originally, Shackelford started helping out the tiny village of Chheneng, in the Mondulkiri province of Cambodia, an impoverished place populated by the Pnong, an ethnic minority that suffered much under regimes of the last century in both Cambodia and Vietnam. The village had no running water or electricity, and they have little to eat on a regular basis, mostly foraging in the jungle for food.
Shackelford has been helping out with donations and strategies that have given them a means to help themselves – much more than just a handout. Shackelford, along with a pair of other local men and villagers, have built two schools, another well for the people, and a sewing shop that is helping them on their way to self-sufficiency.
Then, in late 2007, he began an orphanage a few hundred miles away from Chheneng. The first building at the orphanage was remodeled at that time, and a second and third building have now been added. There are currently 13 children at the orphanage, but the capacity has now been expanded to 20 – which Shackelford believes will be reached sometime this year.
The first building went from a dirt floor to a solid floor last year, and a western-style bathroom was added for increased hygiene. There are better living quarters for the nannies, a groundskeeper, and the facility has a clean water system – the only one in this area.
“That’s one reason the babies are so healthy,” said Shackelford.
The babies range in age from three months to just under one year. One three-month-old came to the facility so undernourished she looked like only a few weeks old. Now, she too is quite healthy.
Other successes of the orphanage include five of the original 11 babies have been adopted in the last year. There is now one nanny for two babies as well – a total of 13 babies altogether at the moment. Heartbreaking stories still loom, but they soon turn to successes.
Such as the sickly infant found abandoned under a rubber tree in recent months, apparently without food for maybe days. Or the other little one who had lived on only water after the grandmother became too sick to move and take care of her.
“She probably would’ve been dead soon,” Shackelford said. “For eight days, she’d had nothing but a rag to suck on and water. The father had died of AIDS, and the mother left the child with the grandmother, who could not care for her.”
The grandmother died shortly after. But both babies were nursed back to health and later adopted out, making a happy ending.
The water system comes from a tower, which pumps water from a nearby pond. The water is then run through several filters to clean it up, and then boiled before use in the formula. There is now even some electricity in the facility via generator, which among other important aspects, allows the nannies to watch TV on their off hours.
Although they will be able to host up to 20 kids for the first year, more space may become available later on.
Shackelford said that when one of these children gets adopted to a western country it’s like hitting the lottery for them. “Just the new life, being a kid from Cambodia and then going to be being raised in a western country like Spain or France or whatever,” he said. “That’s phenomenal.”
Shackelford is hoping to coax more donations from the outside world through his Anyway Foundation. Each child costs approximately $158 per month. The new additions of the two buildings cost $7000 – which are staggeringly cheap by western standards, but the bills do stack up.
Nehalem Bay Winery is located on the north Oregon coast, between Wheeler and Nehalem. Contact Shackelford at 503-368-9463.