Raid shuts down Sunshine Coast backed orphanage
Tracey Golder and Mumma Ruth with some of the Love in Action kids in Cambodia.
A CAMBODIAN orphanage run by a Sunshine Coast mother and daughter has been closed down amid shock allegations of child abuse and human trafficking.
Supporters of Ruth and Tracey Golder, founders of Love in Action orphanage, say they are devastated by the claims against the pair.
The women’s orphanage in Phnom Penh was raided by 17 Cambodian government officials, accompanied by police, on Friday morning.
They removed 21 children, some as young as three months.
The raid also included members of SISHA – an Australian organisation which works to protect the rights of human trafficking victims.
In a statement yesterday, a SISHA spokesman said the raid was an emergency response to complaints from groups of children who fled the orphanage in recent weeks to report beatings, neglect, human trafficking, poor food and overcrowding.
There are also allegations the orphanage is unregistered.
Ruth Golder has worked in Third World countries for more than 30 years, establishing Love in Action in 2004.
The 71-year-old is reportedly laying low since the raid but friends say she is determined to be reunited with the children.
Tracey Golder’s whereabouts was not known yesterday.
Her brother, Rod Golder, said his mother and sister were devastated by the loss of the children.
“Mum has been doing this all her life and there is no way in the world she would do any of this,” he said.
“She adores the kids and just loves it over there; she has always worked hard with good intentions.”
The orphanage is supported by the Christian Outreach Centre and receives most of its funding from Australian donors.
Love in Action volunteer and family friend Robert McVey said he had visited the orphanage, sat with the children and eaten the same food.
He said the allegations were false and simply a ploy to close the orphanage.
“I don’t understand what has happened, but obviously someone thinks they can have some benefit from shutting us down,” he said.
“All I know is Ruth has a heart of gold. She loved those kids, she was mum to everyone. Even I call her mum and I’m 64-years-old.
“She always made sure the kids saw a doctor if they needed to and always threw them birthday parties and Christmas parties.”
A SISHA spokeswoman said interviews with the children had revealed many instances of physical abuse from the Love in Action staff.