EDITION: December - February '07



Roger Dixon, who is known on the island for his colourful oil paintings, has always been a bit of a gypsy. He’s leaving Ibiza again this winter for Cambodia and he’s even bought a one-way ticket.

When Roger talks about his project in Sihanoukville, Cambodia’s coastal port town, you can tell he really cares about it. Many people his age become complacent but Roger is transforming his life completely. Moving to a developing country in the tropics is a challenge in itself, let alone setting up an NGO to help impoverished children. This non-governmental organization is called the Cambodian Children’s Painting Project and came to life two years ago during his second trip to this southeast Asian country. Roger was painting on Serendipity Beach when some children came up to him and asked if they could paint as well. He soon saw how much confidence it gave the kids who are from poor families and come to the beach to sell fruit or bracelets. What began so spontaneously has developed into a successful and serious charity. About one hundred children, between five and fifteen years of age, come regularly to paint and their works are exhibited at the outdoor gallery on the beach. The paintings sell for US$4, one dollar of which goes to Sokha Peng, who helps run the project, one dollar goes for materials and two dollars go to the child which is enough to pay for schooling or buy rice for the family. The project also employs a second Cambodian, Sony, who prepares a healthy soup for the children daily and provides them with drinking water. Sony also gives the children some tender loving care which they are much in need of.

Roger says the greatest success of the project is seeing how the children have changed. Their self-esteem has grown enormously and rather than fighting each other and they now play more and go swimming together. Painting has taught them to concentrate and is a fantastic creative outlet as they can express themselves through colours and images. And a look at the children’s gallery guestbook proves how well the project goes down with tourists.

Most people who visit Cambodia are touched by the warmth and friendliness of the locals – especially the children. Roger is keen to point out that these youngsters have not been given any of the chances we get here in the West. Cambodia is an extremely poor country, devastated by years of wars and genocide. The new generation is full of hope and energy but the population is so poor that parents will even resort to selling a child in order to make some cash. Hunger and neglect make the children easy prey for exploitation, especially in a place like Sihanoukville which is seeing a massive surge in tourism.

Roger Dixon first came to Ibiza in 1968 and he has been living here happily from his painting since the seventies. It is not easy for him to leave behind this Mediterranean paradise but the calling for him to immerse himself completely in this project in Cambodia is stronger. And the inspiration these children and the new environment in Asia give him can be clearly seen in his Cambodian paintings.

The Cambodian Children’s Painting Project has been given legal status and is thus able to receive donations. Donations can be made directly to CCPP, Account number 10-212-009332-7, Swift code CABCKHPP, Cambodia Asia Bank, Ekreach Street, Sihanoukville, Cambodia.

The gallery’s address is:
CCPP, Serendipity Beach, Sihanoukville, Cambodia.
Roger’s email: rogerthepainter@gmail.com

A collection of Roger’s paintings can be seen every Sunday towards sunset at Serendipity, overlooking the Morna valley.