Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Back at the School and Orphanage...

It was a great reunion at the Siem Reap airport a week ago – Savong came to pick us up with Seyha, Chom Rong and La!! A bit like a family reunion...

We caught-up over lunch and Savong told us there were now 25 kids at the orphanage – 6 new kids arrived just last week and some of the younger ones were still getting used to living without their families... Imagine being 2-5 years old and leaving your family for a group of people you didn’t even know... All the kids had parents, but they had no food – a common story in rural Cambodia...

When we turned-up at the orphanage the next day, the kids excitedly ran to the gate when they heard our car coming down the dirt road... It was great to see some old faces – and the new kids were quick to bond with us, with the usual Savong-taught greeting...
“Hello, how are you?” We reply
“I’m fine too. What’s your name?” We reply
“How old are you?”... No idea why they ask that, but that’s the routine... :)

A group of students from Malaysia volunteered at the school for a couple of weeks last month and built a couple of open-air classrooms!! Great facility – the floor is tiled, the walls are only a meter high off the ground and the roof is thatched – so we get the breeze and have the countryside all around us through the ‘open windows’!! :)

There are also new staff members at the orphanage – a cook, a cleaner and a house-keeper/mother figure... AND a NEW WATER TANK - thank you again to my parents and their friends!! The kids can now have showers and flush the toilet without having to pump the water and sit in a tub... It’s amazing how much we can help, so easily...

The ‘Nili and Friends’ water tank

Work has also started on the Fish Farm and Chicken Coop next to the orphanage – these are fairly large-scale projects, with the idea being that the orphanage will be able to generate it’s own income rather than rely on donations. A Japanese donor and the UR1 Melbourne team (led by our Customer Care ladies) have made some significant donations towards this project and the fence has been put-in and fish pond dug out. Should all be done in a few weeks!!

Hard work in the hot sun... Local villagers digging the fish pond - Savong keeps the money ‘local’ if possible... That’s Le, one of the new orphans in front of me.

Our first week was ‘back to routine’... Up at 5am, get picked-up at 5.30, teach until 7.15 and then head to the orphanage... With the new open-air classrooms we took classes there from 8 to 11 – and were happy to be joined by some 10 local kids, as well as the orphans who studied at the government school in the afternoon.

During the lunch breaks we went to the market, order new desks for the orphanage, have lunch with savong, or just chill... Steph and I even managed a couple of father-daughter lunches, which was a bonus... :)

We returned to the school in the afternoons from 3 to 7 and then back to Siem Reap by tuk-tuk for dinner, a shower (can’t believe just how dirty/dusty we get...) and crawl into bed... (Remember we’re on holiday!!... :))

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