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Live and Learn

Photographer Bill Smith and his wife, Lauren, a fashion designer, started A New Day Cambodia to help a handful of children out of poverty. My, how it's grown.

Author Layla Schlack Photography David Bowman


MISSION • To pull kids out of Cambodia’s garbage dumps and put them in school. Bill, the official photographer for the Chicago Bulls, Bears and Blackhawks, started making annual visits to Southeast Asia to pursue his first love, travel photography. In 2002, a driver took him and Lauren to a garbage dump teeming with children who scavenged to make a living. “It was what hell would be like,” Lauren says. The couple decided to sponsor 10-year-old Srey Na, her friend Srey Nak and her sister, Srey Salim, with English lessons, as a first step to finding careers and building better lives. Friends back in Chicago took up the cause. “It was only five- or six-hundred dollars a year. Soon friends would say ‘Next time you’re there, find a kid for us to support,'” Bill says. His friend, Bulls ticket manager Joe O’Neil, held a fundraiser, and Chicago Tribune writer K.C. Johnson wrote a story that ran on Christmas Eve, 2006. Donations started pouring in, and A New Day Cambodia eventually had enough money to open shelters for the kids in Phnom Penh in 2007 and 2008. They’ve also started sending older children to vocational training centers.

MOTIVATION • “Even before Bill and I were married,” Lauren recalls, “he always said, ‘I just want to help one person. I want to change one person’s life.'”

IN THEIR OFF TIME? The Smiths can be found rooting for Chicago sports teams. “I wasn’t a big sports fan before I married Bill,” Lauren admits, “but it’s really a lot of fun. I especially like going to Bulls games.”

For more information, go to www.anewdaycambodia.org

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