You can buy fish and chips at one end, and help build a Cambodian orphanage down the other.
Gordonton’s Coastal Connection owners Mich and Yorng Dul came to New Zealand from a Cambodian refugee camp in 1986. They took over the fish and chip shop two years ago and have been busy since, and not just with battering and frying.
“For many years we have wanted to do something. In Cambodia many live in slums, there are so many poor, so many orphans, not much education. We didn’t know how we could start, so we just did it after a lot of thinking,” says Yorng.
The couple have set up Agriculture for Family Care, and have purchased 40 hectares in three different locations in Cambodia. They want to raise $1 million to build an orphanage and training centre.
“So people can study, learn how to work, and then go back to their village.”
To make this reality, they have set up a second hand shop down the far end of the store, selling clothes, shoes, movies, books, bags – “whatever we can to raise money. People, locals, bring in all sorts of things. We don’t ask, they just come.”
Every year Mich and Yorng travel separately to Cambodia to work on the project. Building hasn’t started yet, but there’s still plenty to be getting on with.
“We do a lot of planting and work in the garden. At the moment we are planting dragon fruit trees. One tree lasts seven years, and produce 20kg of fruit. The ones we planted two years ago are already starting to produce.”
The fruit tastes a bit like kiwifruit, she says. “It is lovely. Selling it provides work and income for the poor people.”
Last year they printed and sold special Christmas cards; the money raised from selling these goes toward the purchase of a tree.
There is a lot of interest in the project. “We hold meetings, and a lot of people come. We have a lot of good people who are behind us.
“It’s a big dream, and just a little bit at a time, we get there. It makes you feel good, doing good things,” Yorng says, before heading off to serve up the next batch of chips.