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U.S. couple brought ‘New Hope’ to Cambodia

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SAN DIEGO — New Hope for Cambodian Children (NHCC) provides the only full-time residential care program for orphans and abandoned children living with HIV/AIDS in Cambodia.

The program was founded by John and Kathy Tucker, who left their home in central Texas in 1997 to serve Christ by serving the poor. In 2000, while serving with Maryknoll in Cambodia, the Tuckers met children infected by HIV. At that time, there were no pediatric antiretroviral medicines available in Cambodia and, without these medicines, infected children died a slow painful death from AIDS.

The Tuckers raised funds, hired doctors, opened a clinic and launched the first program in Asia to provide these lifesaving medicines.

Many of these children were orphaned when their parents died of AIDS. The Tuckers provided a safe and loving place to live for orphans and abandoned children who had no other housing options.

In 2006, after completing two contracts with Maryknoll, the Tuckers founded NHCC, which expanded upon their previous work and provided home-based care and antiretroviral medicines in partnership with the Royal Government of Cambodia to eight Cambodian provinces and the capital, Phnom Penh.

Through 2020, more than 2,000 children were provided with home-based care and more than 400 orphans and abandoned children with residential care.

To provide residential care, NHCC purchased land and built “Our Village.” About 90 orphans and abandoned children with HIV/AIDS currently live at the facility. Ten children live in each house with house parents. Three houses are grouped together to form a cluster, which has its own kitchen and dining area. Thus, the children live as a family but share meals as a community.

Thanks to the current availability of antiretroviral medicine in Cambodia, women with HIV are no longer infecting their babies at birth and the mothers are not dying of AIDS. So, new children are not being referred to NHCC for residential care.

Our Village has its own international school for students in the first through sixth grades. For grades seven to 12, the children attend the local government school and receive supplemental classes at Our Village for English, math and computer science. Our Village also has a nursery school and a preschool.

NHCC also opened New Hope House in urban Phnom Penh. This facility provides young adults living with HIV a safe place to live and study as they attend university or vocational training. NHCC had about 25 students in university or vocational training during the 2021-2022 school year.

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