‘From the Sports World to the Third World:
A Journey to Cambodia’
Part I to premiere Tue, November 13 at 7:00 PM; Part II to premiere on Wed, November 14 at 7:00 PM, Exclusively on Comcast SportsNet
Chicago, IL (November 1, 2012) – Comcast SportsNet will provide viewers with a landmark, behind-the-scenes, two-part documentary entitled From the Sports World to the Third World: A Journey to Cambodia, detailing the amazing story of how two Chicago sports industry veterans -- Bulls/Blackhawks/Bears team photographer Bill Smith and Bulls senior director of ticket operations Joe O’Neil -- are changing the lives of hundreds of helpless children and their families each and every day in poverty-stricken Cambodia. Part I of this unprecedented story of heartache, hope, love and triumph premieres Tuesday, November 13 at 7:00 PM, with Part II debuting the following evening on Wednesday, November 14 at 7:00 PM, exclusively on Comcast SportsNet.
“The board of directors of ‘A New Day Cambodia’ is thrilled that Comcast SportsNet visited Cambodia to see our accomplishments,” said O’Neil. “The CSN crew was present as we marked our five-year anniversary since opening our first center. One hundred children who previously scavenged garbage 10-12 hours a day now attend school full-time, speak English and have opportunities that never previously existed. We are excited that Comcast SportsNet will tell our story to help our visibility and awareness.”
From the Sports World to the Third World: A Journey to Cambodia is the follow-up documentary to Bill Smith: Lasting Impressions, Comcast SportsNet’s Emmy-nominated special from 2010 that introduced viewers to Chicago sports photographer Bill Smith and his wife Lauren. In 2002, Bill and Lauren’s life was forever transformed during their annual trip to Cambodia.
During their 2002 Cambodian visit, their guide on this particular trip suggested they “visit the children.” What they witnessed was beyond heart breaking. Families were actually living in the garbage dump; scavenging for items worth pennies, which often totaled to no more than ten dollars a month. Bill and his wife Lauren then, on-the-spot, sponsored some of the young children, got them out of the dump and organized a scenario to send them to school.
Once the Smiths’ friends and family heard about the horrible plight of these Cambodian children, they also did whatever they could to help donate money, but sadly, the children still lived in dilapidated shacks and breathed in the stench of the dump 24/7. The Smiths and two of their closest friends, Joe and Susan O’Neil, partnered to hold fundraisers in the Chicago area to assist more families and children living in the dump with the goal of opening children’s centers where these unfortunate kids could live full time. Over the next several years, the Smiths’ dream became a reality as donations continued to pour in and they were able to form a foundation called “A New Day Cambodia” (www.anewdaycambodia.com) to provide shelter, food, and education to those in need. “A New Day Cambodia” also officially became a 501c3 non-profit organization and a verified NGO (Non-Government Organization) in Cambodia.
However, the story doesn’t stop there. From the Sports World to the Third World: A Journey to Cambodia chronicles the next chapter in Bill Smith & Joe O’Neil’s incredible journey.
This past July, Comcast SportsNet anchor/reporter Chuck Garfien, along with CSN photographer Matt Zickus & CSN associate producer Justin O’Neil, traveled to Cambodia to witness the garbage dump firsthand and then visited Smith and O’Neil in action at the unbelievable ray of light that is the “A New Day Cambodia” center. Garfien and his crew followed Smith and O’Neil as they found four new children living in the dump and brought them to “A New Day Cambodia” to recover, regroup, and – most importantly – prepare for a new positive direction in their lives.
In addition, we get to meet many of the children (who are now well into their teen years) who have benefited from Smith & O’Neil’s unrelenting fight over the past five years to save them from their dark world of despair…to a new life filled with hope and unending possibilities. This moving, two-part documentary showcasing the triumph of the human spirit is simply not to be missed.
Please note the following quotes from Comcast SportsNet’s From the Sports World to the Third World: A Journey to Cambodia debuting Tuesday, November 13 at 7:00 PM (Part I) and Wednesday, November 14 at 7:00 PM (Part II):
BILL SMITH on first witnessing the children living in the garbage dump and his first steps in making a difference: “This is the bottom of the food chain, can’t imagine worse conditions anywhere. It’s hard for us to walk around here for two hours…imagine this is your whole life and you are going to live here for year after year after year. I was told the life expectancy out here is 42, 43 years old. Over half the parents have TB, and a great percentage have HIV. It’s just the beginning of the rainy season. If we came up here in a few more weeks the water would be up to your knees, and you would be walking in slop, floating, and living in it for months.
"It was horrifying to my wife and I. It started out we couldn’t help many kids, but we knew we could help one, so we just decided we would help one little girl, and that’s what we did…she had a sister, so one became two…they had a friend, two became three…pretty soon, we had 22 and they still lived (in the dump). It wasn’t until we formed ‘A New Day Cambodia’ that we were able to move them into the center.
JOE O’NEIL on starting “A New Day Cambodia”: “I grew up in a world where kids grew up playing baseball and soccer and going to school. I have been very lucky in my life, I have been very privileged to provide for my family, and the garbage dump is the worst type of existence I could ever imagine.
“I'll never forget the day we went out and picked up these children, at these shacks…the girls were waiting there with the little suitcases, and literally the parents said goodbye to their children. And we drove them. We opened up the first center and I think we moved about 15 or 16 kids in the first trip. These kids had to learn how to use a toilet, they had never used showers before, and we had hired a staff here too…we were scared beyond belief.”
BILL SMITH on the promise of hope in the eyes of the children: “When you come back (to the center) three or six months later, the look and sparkle in their eyes is just the biggest difference…their eyes…hopelessness becomes hope for a future, and it’s not just that they are clean, they have a whole different persona. They hold their head higher, they have pride, they can take care of themselves and feel more human than they were before.”
OUN SREYNA (on living at the dump and on being saved by “A New Day Cambodia”): “Yes, I used to work here. I worked here very early in the morning, just collecting recycling, garbage, paper, plastic to sell for the buyers so I could get some money. It’s like I am so glad that I got out of here, I’m so glad that I have education too and I go to school and have friends (starts to get emotional) they gave me the opportunity that I could get out… I don’t know what to say, they really helped me. I think this is a dream and that I will wake up some day and be back here, but this is not a dream…and I wish the other kids would have the same opportunity as me. When I talk about this, it is all emotional…I can’t explain why…it’s just too much (Bill hugs her at this moment).”
TOUCH SREYLIN (another child benefactor of “A New Day Cambodia” and her new dreams for the future): “I don’t know if I can (become the first female prime minister of Cambodia). Most people say lady cannot do anything, cannot own a big shop, become a businesswoman, he said nothing women can do, just a little job that men can do. I want to show that women can do everything the men can do. Not all the leaders in each country are men…some are women…that’s why I want to become one the female prime ministers like in Thailand, the prime minister is a woman, why can’t Cambodia be like that?”
CHUCK GARFIEN on his Cambodian experience: "Think of the worst poverty-stricken areas in the U.S., then multiply that by fifty. That's where these children came from. But now, kids who once had no hope in life, now have realistic dreams of becoming doctors, lawyers, artists, political leaders and teachers. We interviewed Chen Sokha who once lived on the side of the road with her brother for six months. Bill found her in the garbage dump about 5 years ago. She now goes to one of the best academies in Cambodia, was recently featured in Newsweek magazine and has met Michelle Obama and Hillary Clinton. Another girl wants to be the first female prime minister of Cambodia. It's easily one of the most profound, impactful stories I have ever covered or experienced."
Viewers are urged to visit a special multimedia video page on Comcast SportsNet’s website, CSNChicago.com: CSNChicago.com/journey_to_cambodia, which will include video footage from the television version of From the Sports World to the Third World: A Journey to Cambodia and “web-exclusive” video excerpts not shown on TV. In addition, CSNChicago.com will provide the full documentary trailer, a photo gallery from CSN’s July visit to Cambodia, an upcoming overview/behind-the-scenes commentary write-up from Garfien, along with a link for viewers to make a donation to “A New Day in Cambodia”: ANewDayCambodia.com.
Produced and edited by Comcast SportsNet’s Sarah Lauch, From the Sports World to the Third World: A Journey to Cambodia will re-air throughout November/December, including these following dates/times: November 18 (Part I at 7:00pm, Part II at 7:30pm), Thanksgiving Day/November 22 (Part I at 7:00pm, Part II at 7:30pm), November 29 (Part I at 12:30pm), November 30 (Part II at 12:30pm), Christmas Eve/December 24 (Part I at 10:30pm) and Christmas Day/December 25 (Part II at 10:30pm).