Saturday, March 4, 2017

Hope and Houses

Hello Everyone,

We have written before about our Smart Kids education sponsorship program. The program supports 33 students who are caught up in a multi generational cycle of poverty and hard labour in brick factories.

Many families live in horrible housing conditions, with a total lack of toilets, running water, electricity or bathing facilities on the brick factory land. Speaking with the families we have heard of wages that border on slavery. Some husbands and wives working together earn as little as $25 USD to produce 10,000 bricks that take about a month to make, a very difficult wage to live on. This sadly forces families to make their children, as young a six or seven, work to help boost their income so they can survive and feed themselves. The working conditions are very poor and often dangerous, with children operating machinery at a young age.

Needless to say there is not enough money to fix a leaking roof, rotting floors or disintegrating palm leaf walls. KIDS has replaced and rebuilt several houses in the last few years.

This year we partnered with the LUSH Charity Pot Program to build three new houses, rebuild 3 houses and install 6 new toilets/bathing facilities. In addition LUSH Charity Pot provided solar lighting for each of the 33 Smart Kids student's homes and large concrete jars and rain gutters to catch rain water as wells here are very difficult to drill.

One student Cha and her family actually lived in a small dark corner on the factory floor. Her mother has lived there for 27 years since she was nine years old. She told us a few years ago that she had two dreams. One was to see her daughter graduate from grade 12 and escape a life of hard labour that she has endured, that dream will be realized soon as Cha is now half way through grade eleven thanks to KIDS donors. The other dream was to have a home of her own and to live outside the brick factory.......this dream will come to a reality very soon.

We started the homes a month ago and the LUSH team of 23 arrived to help finish them. We will send along and update on their work and of the completed housing project in a few days.

Wishing you and yours all the very best,
Rick and Adrianne

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Computer Dreams

Hello Everyone,

We hope all is well with you.

Imagine a high school with 4,500 students and only twenty computers. The twenty computers and one printer are also used by all the teachers and the administration staff. We recently doubled the number of computers and added another printer and will work on more in the future.

Education is a very strong focus for KIDS and over the past couple of years we have set up computer labs at high schools, KIDS home for girl's, our Smart Kids sponsorship program and an inner city free school.

Like our world at home computer skills are a necessary for any student to move on to university, business or self-employment. Access to computers is still very limited in Cambodia and many students hit a wall when it comes to writing papers in university, vocational training or applying for jobs.

The students are voracious learners of computer skills and many are well on their way with typing skills acquired by a print out of a keyboard on a piece of paper that they practice on before they even have access to an actual computer.

Thank You once again to KIDS donors and supporters for putting opportunity into the hands of these students and greatly improving their chances of a better future.

Bye for now,
Rick and Adrianne

Friday, February 17, 2017

A Grassroots School

We have been supporting a small school south of Siem Reap for the past two years and would like to send you an update.

Sohing is a single woman who lives on a very small income working in restaurants. She is the main breadwinner in her large family and she raises cows, pigs, chickens and frogs to sell as well as vegetables from her garden to generate income and food for her family, three of whom are deaf. On top of her busy schedule and limited income she started a small grassroots school a few years ago at her house to teach children English. Every evening about 40 kids come to learn and she struggles to pay a teacher to assist her in teaching and to feed them a nutritious meal twice a week.

In our conversations with Sohing she has told us that as a child many times all her family could afford was salt and rice for meals and attending school was very difficult. Many of the children at her school face the same issues. Sohing is determined to try to change these young students lives for the better against incredibly tough odds.

Last year we built a roof over the school, bought desks and school supplies. The other day we restocked the school supplies as well as bringing toothbrushes, toothpaste and hand soap for all of the students. K.I.D.S. will also provide a stipend for the school to try and ease the financial burden of educating and feeding these wonderful children who want so much to learn.

This year we were able to provide funds for Sohing to take all her students to Angkor Wat Temples, Cambodia's national treasure, that is only a few kilometers down the road. The children had never seen this historic site and were thrilled to be able to go on such an outing. Sohing also supports one of her sisters to go through high school and learn English so she can change her future, we are assisting to sponsor Sohing's sister to attend English class in Siem Reap.

This young woman has and continues to sacrifice greatly to help others and is an amazing example of selflessness and dedication to make the world a better place one child at a time.

Thanks to our donors who make this... The Little School That Could!

Wishing you and yours all the very best,
Adrianne and Rick

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Breaking Child Labour in Brick Factories

Hi Everyone,

Hope all is well with you and yours. One of the ongoing programs K.I.D.S. funds is a program we call Smart Kids. We started this program six years ago when we visited an area where most of the children and families worked tirelessly at brick factories for next to nothing wages. The situation there is very sad and most families have to all work, including young children, to have a place to live. We went around and asked some families if we could educate one of their kids so they could break the cycle of poverty. Thanks to the principal at the elementary school Mr. Sokha and our long-time

friend and contact Hak we started the program with 6 students. We now have 33 students, thanks to the support of our donors. Each student gets their Cambodian school fees paid and are given school supplies, a bike, English lessons, computer lessons as well as weekly tutoring in English.

This past year we moved the first 8 students to live in the city with Hak and his family so they can learn to live city life, attend grade 12 and find opportunities for their futures. The kids are working hard and so appreciate this opportunity. Their families are also pleased that their children will get out of the brick factories and find a new and better life.

Each year we take all the kids for an outing, something they never get to do and it is great to let them see and experience different places and activities. Last week we took them to the Cultural Centre and Theme Park in Siem Reap and they had a great time.

This year we will also be building some new homes and renovating some houses for the Smart Kids student's families, that are living in dire situations, as well as providing​ ​them with toilets, wells for water and all 33 kids will be able to get solar electricity. A Big Thank You to the Lush Charity Pot program. We will have twenty-three of Lush​ ​staff from North America joining us to build and renovate these houses and they are providing all the funding for this project. We are very excited and will keep you posted on this amazing transformation and relief for these families.

Thanks to all,
Adrianne and Rick

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

The Girl's Home

Hello Everyone,

Eight Years Ago

Same Girls Today
We hope all is well wherever this finds you. We thought we would give you an update about one of our favourite programs... The Girl's Home. A place that is dear to our hearts. As many of you know, we started the girl's home eight years ago when the street children's centre, in Siem Reap, was closed due to lack of funding. The director, You Vath, offered to open her small home and take in six of the most vulnerable girls and we said we would fundraise to help the girls have a safe place to live.

Thanks to the generous support of our donors, we have now assisted over 30 girls to live happy, healthy and safe lives. Some have gone on to work and one is in university. Together with the guidance, love and support of You Vath and K.I.D.S., these terrific girls live in harmony, study hard, learn their traditional dance, learn english, computers, respect for themselves and others and most of all they have learned to create their own supportive, loving family and home.

We have watched these girls, who came from the street, orphanages or abusive situations, grow into kids who are thriving. The girl's are very appreciative of the opportunity they have been given. We are inspired by their resilience, their laughter and their desire to improve their lives. Thank you for your support and for giving them the life and future that every child deserves.

All the best to you and yours,
Adrianne and Rick

Friday, January 20, 2017

The Happy Room

Dear Friends,

We hope the year is off to a good start. Here we just finished bringing one of the basic needs in life to a inner city school in Siem Reap...Bathrooms!!! Something many of take for granted however here in Cambodia that is not the case.

We have been working with Feeding Dreams Cambodia for many years supporting their great work; which provides very poor urban kids with english lessons, nutritious meals, computer training as well as hospitality training all for free. Most of the kids who attend Feeding Dreams live in urban slum areas and work as trash collectors, beggars or sellers. The school runs programs morning, afternoon and evening and altogether there are more than 800 students that attend daily.

K.I.D.S. has assisted with the computer lab, social service programs and clean drinking water. This year, thanks to our terrific partners, Compassionate 
Eye Foundation, we were able to replace their two terrible bathrooms (that did not work most of the time) with a modern four stall bathroom and washroom area.
We also moved it far away from the clean drinking water system and classrooms...which is much more hygienic.

Now students and teachers can have descent, clean and private bathrooms that work.

Here they often refer to the bathroom as "The Happy Room" and believe us we have all made this school a lot happier.

The Happy Room

All the best to you and yours,

Adrianne and Rick

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Well Wishes

Dear Friends,

We hope the new year is off to a good start. We are happy to say that K.I.D.S. has just completed another clean drinking water system for a poor rural village school, a special thank you to Fergus and Penny MacCourt from Nanaimo.

We visited Samrong Khnarphor last year with our friend and partner Kim Thol. Kim assists us in finding schools that are in need of support and often off the beaten path. This little school is no exception. Here the 280 children are either crammed into what was the kitchen to study kindergarten, inside the three walled community shelter, outside in the dirt or in run down and broken small wooden classrooms. There is one classroom that is okay but still has only wire for walls.

The teachers are dedicated and teach in these conditions as they believe, as we do, that every child deserves an education.

Bringing clean drinking water to these children helps these kids to avoid suffering from illness and dehydration and they are so happy to have clean safe water to drink on a daily basis. It is great to see the kids growing their own garden so that they can add some greens to their breakfast provided by the World Food Program.

We will also be getting bikes for some of the kids who will be traveling long distances to high school next term.

With Gratitude from All,
Adrianne and Rick