In July 2007, Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt renewed their support for the Maddox Chivan Children's Center in Phnom Penh with a grant to the Cambodian Health Committee. In addition, the center recently received an additional donation from Chopard Diamonds on behalf of Jolie.
The MCCC opened in February of 2006, funded by a generous gift from Jolie. In honor of her work on behalf of children worldwide, the CHC named the center after her oldest child, who was born in Cambodia.
The Center offers a multidisciplinary array of services to hundreds of AIDS-infected and affected children in Phnom Penh. Building on the CHC's internationally recognized novel approaches to AIDS and tuberculosis treatment, the MCCC offers integrated medical care, along with a full suite of educational, social, nutritional and psychological interventions to allow the children, many of whom are orphans, to achieve health and to grow up to become productive citizens of their communities. The center provided services to 363 children in its first year.
"When children are given the opportunity to attend the center, they thrive," says Marie-Pierre Fernandez, the director of the MCCC and a psychologist with more than 15 years of experience with disadvantaged children in France, Latin America, and Asia. "It's not just the medical care. Children who are ill, orphaned or affected by HIV need a place free of discrimination where they can meet children in the same situation as themselves, where they can catch up on their education and start to have some hope for the future. We give them that."
"Eventually this model for orphan and AIDS care could in fact transform the lives of countless other thousands of children throughout the world," says Anne Goldfeld MD, a specialist in infectious disease at Harvard Medical School and the cofounder and president of the CHC. "The MCCC is a unique project developed at the grass roots by a team of expatriates and local citizens responding to the needs of children infected or affected by AIDS. Because these children are at extreme risk from many perspectives—medical, educational, social, and psychological—we have created a program to intervene on all these levels simultaneously. We are very grateful to Angelina Jolie, the Jolie-Pitt Foundation and Chopard Diamonds for their continuing support of these hundreds of children."
For the second year in a row, children from the Maddox Chivan Children’s Center (MCCC) took top honors at Cambodia's annual equestrian competition including the first prizes in two individual categories. For the MCCC children who participated, this was not only an honor, but a sign of the bright future that is ahead.
Since 2006, over 80 children from ages 11-16 from the MCCC have participated in weekly equestrian lessons co-sponsored by the French embassy at an equestrian center established in Phnom Penh. They are offered a range of horse activities from standard lessons to new experimental classes for children with physical disabilities as well as those with psychological distress and developmental delays. Seventeen of the MCCC's children were chosen to participate at two levels in this year's Annual Cambodian National Equestrian Competition. The competition took place over 3 days in January and February 2008 and consisted of various jumping and dressage events. MCCC children took top honors with two first places a second and third place in the competition.
“Their remarkable achievements serve as a great inspiration for all the children at the center who are used to being the poorest and most stigmatized of children in Cambodia” says Marie Pierre Fernandez, MCCC director. “They continue to prove, that if the children are given the right opportunities, they very soon can excel, they can become champions”, says Ann Kao, M.D., clinical advisor to the CHC.
Through activities such as this one, which combines education, attention and opportunities, children blossom from very difficult and traumatizing past experiences, to become leaders among their peers and in their communities.