Children of a Lesser God – a must watch!

April 7, 2010 by Henry Benjamin
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Monday night was Pesach.  ABC-TV’s “Australian Story” featured Tara Winkler, a remarkable 24-yr-old from Sydney who runs an orphanage in Cambodia.

Tara plays for the children

Until she was nine, Tara would regularly visit her grandmother, Violet Fisher, who passed away in 2004.  During those visits,  Tara heard over and over the stories of Violet Fisher’s incarceration and survival in Auschwitz.

“Australian Story” tells the tale of how Tara was confronted by yet another genocide…witnessing the plight of orphans in Cambodia. At the age of 21, Tara Winkler rescued 14 children from a corrupt children’s home, rehousing them in an orphanage she established herself in the Battambang region of Cambodia about six hours north west from Phnom Penh. Her organisation is known as The Cambodian Children’s Trust.

Her father, 56-yr-old composer and musician Peter Winkler, told J-Wire: “I have been overwhelmed with the reaction from the public following the broadcast. We have received so many warm messages and we have not yet had a chance to total the contributions. Some donors have committed to sending money on a monthly basis.”

The orphanage in Battambang has received support from Sydney’s Jewish community through private donations with Winkler highlighting his cousin Michael Rosen’s recent 60th birthday party where donations were requested instead of gifts.

Tara Winkler

Tara with Sinet who features in the program

In the documentary, Tara is seen following one of her favourite Winkler added: “I received an offer from a woman who wants to donate a horse-riding facility for the orphanage. Imagine the thrill the kids will experience in learning how to ride.”

Winkler, who wrote the music for the movie “The Japanese Story” added: “Tara learned so much from her grandmothers. My partner Sue Jersey’s mother Joan lives around the corner from us and Tara spent a lot of time at her  home. To this day Joan, now 83, goes into the city each week to participate in a group called ‘Politics in the Pub’ and was a member of the Council for Civil Liberties. She also stood as a candidate for the now defunct Australia Party.”

He added: “Tara is very proud and very aware of her Jewish heritage. To have learned so much about the Holocaust from one grandmother and social justice from the other and then to witness first-hand the consequences of genocide says much about our daughter.”

In the program Tara Winkler makes it abundantly clear that her life is committed to her orphanage. She says:”If someone threatens my kids, I turn into a lion.”

Her orphanage is today home for 33 children.

Watch ‘Australian Story’ here…


4 Responses to “Children of a Lesser God – a must watch!”
  1. Andrea says:

    Hi Tara,I am a fifty year old mum, I have been to Cambodia a few times and will be back again soon, I am a ESL teacher though I really enjoy it my main passion is horse riding and I teach riding to disabled kids and I would love to sttart something up in Cambodia, I know that horses would not be a problem , do you have any land and firstly are you interested?

  2. toch,neak says:

    Hi miss winkler,my name is toch neak I live in new family came to america cause of the khmer rouge war I’m really greatful wat america offering me for the past 31 years of my life in america.but I also feel for my people.u know miss winkler I don’t know how u do it u left a good life in australia to take care of those kids.I thought people forgot about cambodia cause of the conditions that’s going on over.there’s not much that people can do.but u. I still don’t know how u do it.u gotta be very strong inside to do wat u doing.that’s why they say don’t judge a book by its cover.miss winkler I applaw people like u.and u and yur father keep on doing wat yur me the lord is watching.and yes u r beautiful.

  3. Theary Paraskevas says:

    Children of a Lesser God – a must watch!

    To whom it may concern,

    My name is Theary Paraskevas, a mum of 3 young boys living in Australia. I was so moved by this story. It truly touched my heart. I was one of those children during Pol Pots regime. I was fortunate that my mother and I escaped and became an Australian citizen in the 1980’s.

    I cannot believe a young girl of her age who is so inspiring and caring about other children a world away from Australia the land of hope and dreams.

    I am deeply moved by her story and it is time for me to do what i can to help her.
    Could you please pass on my message to her. I want to organise fund raising here and i would like to meet her as well. I can organise clothing, toys, stationary through the local schools and community and have it sent to help her help these unfortunate children.

    She is giving them hope and a dream and a future like Australia has given to me and my families.
    My mother and I came to Australia with not even $1 or any clothing on our backs. My mother worked 7 days a week to get to where we are today. I worked 3-4 jobs when i was growing up to put myself through University and became a qualified Accountant.

    I would like now to help Tara and the orphanage of Cambodia where i was originally born. I have visited only twice since i left there. I still have memories of all the dead bodies during that time.

    Please let me know if i can be of help to Tara or if I can contact her directly and assist.

    Thanks so much.

    Kind Regards
    Theary Paraskevas

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