Many people might consider Danny Kim’s childhood a tragedy. Born in Cambodia a few months before the Khmer Rouge would take over the country forcing its population into work camps, Kim would spend the first decade of his life dodging bullets and living in poverty. Until the age of three or four, his home was one of those Khmer Rouge work camps. After that, it was a Thai refugee camp to which his family fled and would spend the next six or seven years. A camp where robberies and murders were plentiful, but food was not.
It may have been a rough start, but it was one that motivated Kim to live a life of service to others as an adult. A Fresno police detective with 16 years on the force, Kim’s professional and personal life have been about giving back to people in Fresno, and now in Cambodia. Last year, Kim accompanied his parents on a trip back to the country they fled many years ago and was struck by an urge to help out the people he saw there. Kids with no shoes, no shirts. Kids just like Kim. Families living in shacks with little food and water. Families just like Kim’s.
On that first trip, Kim used what money he had on him to help out people in need. This year, he got organized, holding fundraisers and setting up an online donation account for his next trip on Oct. 24. His goal this time: to build two water wells to serve villagers in rural Cambodia who have limited access to free, clean water. Kim says what he’s attempting to do this year, couldn’t be done alone. He’s grateful for the support he’s received from people in Fresno: from donations of money — 100 percent of which will go to the building of the two wells — to gifts of toothbrushes, school supplies and medicine that will be handed out to Cambodian children.
And the support Fresno gives to Kim, is returned not only by his gratitude and work with the police department, but by the charitable acts he does around the city. Last holiday season, Kim and another officer took it upon themselves to gather food donations from local grocery stores, which they then handed out to families in need who they’d come to know through their work.
Here, Kim talks about his family’s flight from the Khmer Rouge, the advice he got at a high school job fair in Long Beach that made him pursue a career in law enforcement and why he’s dedicated his life to serving others.
If you’d like more information about Danny Kim’s humanitarian efforts in Cambodia, or would like to donate, here is the link to his fundraising page: