Now, Scott Neeson, who founded the Cambodian Children’s Fund in 2004, spends his days wearing crumpled cargo pants, with bags under his eyes and thick boots on his feet, as he wades through ankle-deep sewage, rubbish and syringes on the outskirts of Cambodia’s capital, Phnom Penh.
Six years ago, Mr Neeson, an Adelaide man before his career took him to the US, was moving to a new job at Sony Pictures but, burnt out, first took a holiday in Asia.
Horrified by the level of poverty among Phnom Penh’s street children, he paid for a child’s schooling, only to find out he had fallen victim to a scam, with nine others having “sponsored” the child. He recalls: “One day, a restaurant owner sat me down and broke the news. He said, ‘If you want to see some people who really need help, go down here [to the Steung Meanchey rubbish dump].’ ”