Friday, December 30, 2016

A Happy New Year

Dear Friends,

We spent a few days in Phnom Penh where we visited a K.I.D.S. education sponsorship program for young people from very poor families. There are 9 students presently in this program studying from grade seven through to university and technical training programs. Their career dreams vary from working as: accountants, teachers, a doctor, in agriculture, air conditioning and being an esthetician. These students would have very little hope of achieving their dreams without K.I.D.S. assistance and the support of Sinath, a wonderful man we work with, who has dedicated his life to helping poor and abandoned children.

9 students currently in the K.I.D.S. Education Sponsorship Program
Over the years, many young people have been supported through this program. In fact, 100% of the students we have supported have gone on to find work and live self-supporting lives.

Sen with son
We touched base with a few graduates. One is a young woman named Sen. Sen had the most difficult of childhoods. She was born in a refugee camp in Thailand after the Khmer Rouge genocide and was orphaned there at a very young age. She was in the first group of children repatriated to Cambodia after the regime was overthrown and the country was safe enough to return. She spent the rest of her childhood in an orphanage, where she worked hard and learned traditional Apsara dance. The one bright spot in her life was Sinath, who was the director of the orphanage. K.I.D.S. sponsored Sen through university and English classes. After graduating, with her newly acquired business and
Adrianne & Rick with Sen & Benoit
accounting, she opened her own dance school a few years ago which continues to thrive. She met Benoit, a charming and kind French man working in Cambodia, they married and have a beautiful six month old son. Sen is incredibly happy and is forever grateful for the opportunity that K.I.D.S. donors and Sinath has given her.

Thida is another amazing story of resilience and determination. Thida was born to a very poor farming family and reached out to Sinath as she wanted to improve her life. K.I.D.S. sponsored her education in high school and university and she graduated last year. She found a part time job at a wine shop and at present, she is a full-time supervisor and will soon be promoted to a "super supervisor" as her boss told us when were there visiting her. She earns a good salary and is well on her way to becoming a sommelier. Wine is huge here in Phnom Penh and her list of clients also includes the Royal Family who call on her to ask her advice on wine pairings.

Theses two young women are ever grateful for the opportunities that were given to them to build a better future for themselves and their families. Thida's smile in this photo says it all.

Thida is a full-time supervisor in a wine shop
For 2017, we would like to wish all of you good luck, good health and a long life, as they say here in Cambodia.

Thank you all,
Rick and Adrianne

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Solstice and Seasonal Celebration

Hello Everyone,

Another solstice is here and we in the northern hemisphere once again emerge from the darkness and into the seasons of light.

We would like to extend our warmest thanks to all our family, friends, donors and volunteers who have so kindly shared their resources and time with the children and families helped and supported by K.I.D.S.

In Cambodia, the lotus flower is used for food, ornamentation and many ceremonies. It also carries great cultural and spiritual significance. The lotus flower emerges from the mud and the darkness towards the light to be a thing of beauty.

Your contributions and compassion have given many the ability, like the lotus, to rise from the darkness, bloom and radiate out into the world.

Many thanks for changing lives and all the best to you and yours over the holiday season.

Rick and Adrianne

The Lotus Flower - emerges from the mud and darkness to be a thing of beauty

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Hope and Beauty

Hello Everyone,

We hope all is well and imagine many of you are getting ready for the holiday season.

We recently returned from a trip to N.E. Cambodia where K.I.D.S. funds a daycare-kindergarten at the Stung Treng Women's Development Centre (SWDC). This inspiring program teaches women the art of silk weaving and their scarves and other silk products are sold around the world. Many of you know this program and many of you have purchased their beautiful scarves!














Although the weaving program program is sustainable there is a great need for young women to be able to bring their children to work with them otherwise they cannot work and provide for their families. The daycare/kindergarten is a very happy place. The 60 children play, sing, do exercises, learn to read and write and receive a nutritious lunch thanks to K.I.D.S. supporters. Entering the school we are greeted with smiles, hugs, hellos and a colourful and a creative environment. The children receive a head start with their education while their mother's earn a descent living wage.

We are happy to say that this year the weaving centre is very busy and we are able to support ten more women to be trained and get full time employment. Thanks to the Compassionate Eye Foundation for partnering with us to assist more women.







Meeting these women and hearing their stories is often heartbreaking; like the young woman whose father died when she was 9 and she married young and had two small children only to have her husband killed in a motor vehicle accident leaving her penniless. Thanks to SWDC she can have her children at the daycare, learn a skill and support her kids. Many of the women are able to live in on site housing if they do not have place to live. Now they have a home, work, a daily lunch program and they are part of a caring, safe and supportive community, while working only steps away from their children.


Thank you for your support, compassion and helping these women and children to live with decency and hope.

To receive a hello from the kids click the ​ youtube video


All the best to you and yours,
Adrianne and Rick

Saturday, December 3, 2016

Saving a School

Dear Friends,

We hope all is well with you and yours. We have now arrived in Siem Reap and after a few days of R&R are back working away in Cambodia. We have been seeing many of the wonderful kids that we all assist and it is great to see them again and see how well they are doing thanks to your support and generosity.

Yesterday we went out to visit a small, isolated floating school in a village on the Tonle Sap Lake. We were asked last year if we could help this school as it is sinking and has very little resources. So after an hour and a half road trip and a two and a half hour boat trip (one way on a small fibreglass boat with a long tail motor) we arrived at the school. As we stepped onto the school we could immediately see the problem. The water started to come over the wooden floor boards.
As we entered the school we could also see how little the teacher and the children had to work with however the children are all so very eager to learn and without this school they would never learn to read and write. The wife of the village chief teaches these children with no monetary compensation, she does it because she believes every child has the right to an education.

Even though we raised funds from our great partners Compassionate Eye Foundation for new bamboo to float the school we also could not leave without offering to bring a new black board, chalk, books, school supplies and also fix the ceiling which is falling down as well as some other structural work. The blackboard was not a black board anymore it is a brown board and worn paper, thin from so much use and most of the kids had only slates to to write on.


 
As we said farewell to the kids and they left on their boats and we left on ours our hearts were heavy with seeing how little these children have in their lives and also full to think that together we can keep this haven of learning and respite floating and benefiting children.

Here is a little video of the children heading home.




With thanks, respect and appreciation,
Rick and Adrianne

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Farewell For Now

Dear Friends,

Here we are once again; spring, summer and now fall is almost gone. We are poised to leave in a matter of hours for Cambodia. Collectively this will be our 17th year of assisting children and families in S.E Asia, hard to believe.

Last year we achieved a milestone of bringing more than five thousand children and their families clean drinking water after the completion of our tenth water project. We have in hand recourses for one more water project so far this trip and hopefully we can work toward serving five thousand more kids in the future.



Aside from water our combined efforts have changed the lives of so many children and families in countless ways. From the construction of classrooms to ease overcrowding, keeping floating schools from actually sinking, providing teacher's salaries for English classes and setting up computer labs for high schools. Many children have been sponsored by KIDS to further or complete their education/vocational training and move their lives and the lives of their families forward, breaking the cycle of poverty. We provide a safe home for girl's and support women to earn a decent living wage for themselves and their families.

Hundreds of children have been cured of illness and nursed back to health due to the combined efforts of KIDS support. These are the larger achievements but there are countless smaller ones, like: providing cooking pots and pans, new tin roofs or bicycles and shoes so kids can get to school....and the list goes on.

On behalf of KIDS we want to send you our sincere appreciation for your contributions of funds, support, volunteerism and positive wishes and this list goes on and on as well.

So as we sadly say goodbye to family and friends here we are excited and grateful to add to our combined efforts of positive change for the kids in Cambodia.



We look forward to keeping you up to date through e-mails and posts.

Please take care and we will be in touch soon.
With thanks, respect and appreciation,
Rick and Adrianne

Monday, October 10, 2016

Happy Thanksgiving Everyone

We hope all is well with you as many of you gather together with family and friends to appreciate what we are grateful for in our lives.

 We recently received an email and photos from our friend and Smart Kids project manager Hak. Six years ago we started this program, which sponsors elementary school children living in poverty and working in brick factories to get an education. We now have 33 students in this program.

Original Sponsored Students
The first eight of those kids has recently moved to the city of Siem Reap where they will go to school for their last year of high school. K.I.D.S. helped to create a dormitory and classroom on the top floor of Hak's house and Hak, his wife and two small children have welcomed them into their home, an admirable act of generosity.


 
The students are living 3 to a room 3 to a bed but they are thrilled at the chance to further their education. We decided to move them to the city to give them access to better schools and more exposure to english, with the hope that once they graduate they can get jobs and help themselves and their families break the cycle of poverty. They are a very committed, hard working group of young adults and have taken full advantage of the opportunity to receive an education.

Being Thanksgiving we wanted to give thanks to our terrific and supportive community of donors, foundations and friends of K.I.D.S. It is hard to put into words how the amazing gift of an education, that you have brought to these first eight Smart Kids as well as the other 25 who are still studying in their rural village, has changed their lives for the better. The families, although sorry to see them leave, are proud and hopeful that they can have a better life and not spend the rest of their lives working in brick factories for next to nothing.
 
Below is a message from Leakena, one of the girls:
 
"Hello, I am Leakhena. I am fine. How are you? Thank you for your support. I want your hope for me to become true. I must study harder than before. Now I have good feeling and I have enough time to study. because I don't have to work. I will get a lot of experiences. For moving to study in Siem Reap it makes me to know a lot of situation for living and study. I also can share my knowledge with each other. My listening and speaking are better than before. And I also can share my love to you and others that help me. I am very happy. Thank you for everything. I wish you have a good health and good luck every time."
 
 
 As Confucius said:
 If your plan is for 1 year, plant rice.
If your plan is for 10 years, plant trees.
If your plan is for 100 years, educate children.

With Gratitude and Best Wishes,
Adrianne and Rick
 

Monday, September 5, 2016

So Long Summer Update

Hi All,

Hope you had a great summer. Over the summer K.I.D.S continued to have many irons in the fire in Cambodia, including: supporting our ongoing programs such as: Samnang Home for Girls, Smart Kids rural education sponsorship program and the Women's Weaving Center preschool/kindergarten.
 
We have also been working on other needs including the following:
 
A Resilient Family 
One of the students in our rural sponsorship program is 16 years old and the main supporter of her family. This lovely, reslilient girl works very hard to care for her disabled father and her two younger sisters as well as keep up with her studies. K.I.D.S provides funds for all her educational needs as well as a stipend for the family to survive until their fortunes change. We were able to buy her father a basic wheelchair, as he cannot walk and it was difficult for the girls to help him move around. He spent all day, every day on the floor. They are relieved and extremely happy to have the wheelchair and this has made their day to day living much easier.
 
 
For a couple of years now this family has been living in an open fronted community hall right beside the road. Their housing situation has been very difficult and we have been trying to rectify this for some time but with no luck. The problem is that they have no land and we have been unable to help them due to lack of space and availability of land, but we have recently made a breakthrough. We now have permission from the village chief and commune to build them a house, so we are working on plans to build one for them when we return. Needless to say they are really happy that they will be able to have a home of their own.
 
Improving Family Homes 
We are also working on providing several of the other Smart Kid's families with descent housing, as most are living in extremely poor living conditions. So once we get back to Cambodia we will be improving their housing situations as well.


Bikes
Soon it will also be time for children to return to school in Cambodia. We are working on getting as many bikes as possible into the hands of the children that are heading off to high schools. When the children leave elementary school, if the family does not own a bicycle, the child might not be able to make the usual long trip to school and that is effectively the end of a their education. Thanks to our donors and Compassionate Eye Foundation we have secured 90 bikes so far and the families and students are extremely grateful. A big thank you to Kim Thol (in Cambodia) for his efforts to get the bikes to all the students at a number of schools. 
 
K.I.D.S is doing it's best to make sure that a simple bicycle does not stand in the way of a child's education.
 
 
Thank you very much for your support and for improving these children's lives.
Wishing you and yours the very best,
Rick and Adrianne