Who We Are
Back in the early 2000s Tony and Jimmy Geeraerts toured South East Asia by dirt bike, an adventure tour that would change their lives forever. As they cut through rugged trails, they saw large areas of the countryside dotted with villages and backwater towns. Curious to know more, they stopped a while in each place spending time with the locals to experience their way of life.
Too often they saw grinding poverty afflicting these remote areas. Families often lived in wooden huts while children worked in the fields. Inhabitants had basic food, no healthcare facilities, and no government aid. Some villages had no ready supply of electricity, and only a basic water pump.
The brothers saw how these harsh conditions forced people to migrate to the city for work, leaving their children behind. Some parents never came back, their children left with neighbours or worse, abandoned in the streets.
Of all the countries they saw, Cambodia stood out for them. There was something about the people they fell in love with, something which captured their hearts. Yet, they never forgot the harsh reality of poverty and their encounters with orphans, suffering from hunger and abandonment. After a couple of return trips, they decided to open an orphanage.
As the project gained momentum, it attracted attention from the brother’s network of professional associates who were impressed with their heartwarming plans. Within a short time a board of directors was established, including Dimitri Segers and Jo Offeciers. Their range of expertise helped steer the project forward.
Initially, they rented out an unused school building in Phnom Penh and opened Little Hearts in May 2009. When the government sold the building, Little Hearts bought a plot of land in a village just outside the capital, and built a brand-new orphanage which opened in 2013.
Tony eventually sold his belongings, left Belgium and moved to Phnom Penh to run the orphanage directly. In doing so he’s created a genuine home for the children who consider themselves and Little Hearts one big family unit.
Team Cambodia and Team Belgium
Team Cambodia works on site providing supervision, meals, schooling, and activities, seven days a week, day-in day-out. They live and work with the kids ensuring they receive a well-rounded education, while at the same time serving as mentors for the kids when they need love and support from a responsible adult.
Whatever the scenario, LH teachers ensure that the kids keep up with their studies, paying close attention to their individual needs. This helps them fill gaps in their education which can often arise from the underfunded state schools they attend.
Team Cambodia also provides the kids with extra-curricular classes to boost their English, Maths, and Literacy. After class they provide the kids with fun and challenging activities. The children enjoy plenty of arts, crafts, team projects, sports and more. The stimulating activities go a long way to encourage the kids to develop their passions.
At the same time, Team Cambodia is engaged with a number of corporate fundraising projects in Phnom Penh. They actively develop new links with businesses in the region looking to enhance their corporate social responsibility status through financial support for charitable endeavours. The fundraising work helps generate mutually-beneficial relationships for regular sponsorship funding. These businesses then become valued members of the community.
The Cambodian Team is also focused on partnership development whereby companies are given the opportunity to donate goods and services to Little Hearts. These fundraising projects continue behind the scenes and are essential for the long-term success of the orphanage. They aim to provide the children with enhanced medical care, free dental care, improved supplies of nutritious food, better classroom supplies and more.
Team Belgium is a group of dedicated volunteers who’ve lost their hearts to Cambodia and the children of Little Hearts. They support Team Cambodia through fundraising events with schools, local communities and corporate sponsors. Providing high levels of care for the children requires a constant stream of funding, and Team Belgium works hard to deliver charitable events each and every month within their local communities and beyond.
The events are wide ranging and highly creative. They often involve local schools who’ve made impressive efforts to develop a strong relationship with the Little Hearts orphans, and who continue to build upon many successful events in the past.
Without Team Belgium working on fundraising campaigns, the Little Hearts project wouldn’t have been possible. Their hard work, ongoing for over ten years, has been instrumental in achieving greater recognition for Little Hearts across Belgium. These remarkable achievements arise from Team Belgium’s genuine commitment to the Little Hearts cause, and the children who depend on their heartfelt generosity.
Little Hearts has a successful track record for improving the lives of abandoned children. This is the result of careful planning, well-defined long-term goals for the LH centre, and the provision of a comprehensive education for each and every orphan brought into the home.
The orphanage is a fully-licensed charitable organization, relying entirely on the generosity of local and international donors to fund the daily upkeep of the home.
Well-respected in the local community, the loving centre provides a second chance for hundreds of abandoned children, giving them the foundations for life that every child deserves.