Covering the Goulburn and Murray valleys

Benalla tennis event to help Cambodian orphanages

Benalla mother Denise Cooke will hold an Anzac Day tennis event to raise funds for the Cambodian orphanages from where she adopted her children.

MONIQUE FREER April 17, 2014 3:35am

Denise Cooke with children Meg, 7, and Ben, 11.

A Benalla mother is using sport to raise much-needed funds for the Cambodian orphanages from where she adopted her children.

Denise Cooke adopted two Cambodian-born children, Ben, 11, and Meg, 7, from Roteang and Wat Opot orphanages and has since founded the Cambodian Orphanage Fund to provide ongoing support.

‘‘I started it in 2012 in the lead-up to travelling back to Cambodia with my two adopted Cambodian-born children,’’ Ms Cooke said.

In anticipation of the visit Ms Cooke raised $18000 for the fund, which she said made an enormous difference to both orphanages and communities.

‘‘Two dollars here is worth about $50 over there,’’ she said.

‘‘They rely solely on donations, they have no government support from the Cambodian government at all.’’

Part of her fundraising was an Anzac Day tennis tournament at Benalla Lawn Tennis Club, which has continued as an annual event since that time.

‘‘The orphanages survive solely on donations and it’s important to my family that we don’t forget the kids we left behind,’’ Ms Cooke said.

Ms Cooke adopted Ben in 2007 when he was four years old; he had never left the confines of his orphanage.

A year after Ben was adopted Ms Cooke welcomed Meg, when she was 18 months old.

This year she is again hosting the tennis tournament, with all money raised going to assist both orphanages with ongoing costs such as books, clothes, medicine and school uniforms.

‘‘Meg’s orphanage is primarily an HIV hospice... so most of the money goes to antivirals,’’ she said.

‘‘Ben’s community’s project at the moment is getting kids to school. In Cambodia you have to have a uniform to go to school, so many students don’t go because they can’t afford the $3 uniform.’’

The tennis tournament will be held on Friday, April 25 at 1pm at Benalla Lawn Tennis Club with afternoon tea and a sausage sizzle provided.

Registration is welcome but not necessary; cost is $10 per adult or $5 per child.

Private donations to the Cambodian Orphanage Fund are also accepted; for more information phone Denise on 0428320101 or email

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