Monday, March 17, 2014

Funding Families

Dear Friends,

We are nearing the end our trip and working on quite a long list of things to wrap up before we head home. In this email we thought we would share some small but significant stories about individuals and their families that K.I.D.S. has been able to support.

For the past several years we have had a regular tuk tuk driver here in Siem Reap. Vireak has taken us on many trips, near and far, in our work with KIDS. His tuk tuk was a little worse for wear due to these excursions and his motorcycle, that pulled the tuk tuk, was in very sorry condition. Vereak has been a freelance independent driver standing by here and there waiting for customers on the side of the road, barely making enough to feed his wife and two small children. When drivers are taken on by a major hotel or guesthouse they get a steady stream of customers however it is difficult if you are not connected to one of these establishments. Last year KIDS purchased a used motorcycle for Vireak and had his tuk tuk repainted. With his shiny new rig he was taken on as a driver for the Park Hyatt Hotel. Today Vireak is really busy (too busy for us) as he is booked every day from dawn till dark. He has a regular income and life has taken a big turn for the better. Whenever we see him drive by with customers he gives us a smile and a big wave that is good!

So this year we found a new driver another independent, with a rented tuk, tuk. Sam spends 12 to 14 hours a day waiting for customers on the street. He recently moved here to try and make a living. Their family is so poor that he and his wife had to send their 7 year old son to live in an orphanage/boarding house as they could not afford to educate him; they missed him a great deal and so did his little four year old brother. Sam is incredibly hard working, learning english on his own and trying to get ahead. We have now sponsored the education of his son and last week his parents brought him home to be reunited with his little brother. The other evening we met Sam, his wife and the two boys, we asked the boy if he was happy to be home he burst into a big smile and said, “ Sabai, cheran, cheran”…(Yes, Happy.. very, very) a touching moment!

Narin, Sokpea and Srey Mao
Down the street from our apartment there is a family of women; a grandmother named Narin, her daughter Sokpea and 7 year old granddaughter Srey Mao. Over the past 6 years, as we walk to and fro on our street, we pass their home/shop. We see Narin doing laundry by hand, Sokpea sewing wedding dresses and Srey Mao going to and coming from school. Every morning they greet us warmly and are a great start to our day. They used to live further up the street in a tiny, tiny room that was their shop, living room and kitchen. Unfortunately every year for about a month they had to move all their personal belongings and their old sewing machine up on chairs, blocks or anything that they could get their hands on to raise things above the level of the annual flooding of the Siem Reap River. A couple of years ago we purchased the family a new sewing machine and brought Sokpea some good quality scissors from home. Last year KIDS sponsored Srey Mao for english classes to ease some of the financial burden on the family. With the help of the new sewing machine and the sponsorship of Srey Mao they have been able to build up their laundry and sewing business. They have moved a little further up the street into a slightly larger and more expensive room, $40 as opposed to $35 a month. Though their house and shop is still small they are on higher ground and no longer have their lives and incomes interrupted by flooding. They work very hard however they are happy and never complain. They are strong, independent women who have faced incredible challenges and heartbreak and are dedicated to providing a better future for Srey Mao.

We will end this email by revisiting Sopeak. For those of you who may be new to our emails, we have sponsored Sopeak for five years through high school, english classes and now university. A couple of months ago we wrote about how after taking her entrance exam at a very good english school she ranked at a level six, an amazing achievement for a person with a hearing impairment. In January she wrote final exams for her first semester in university. Today we met Sopeak and she showed us her final marks. This hard working young woman never ceases to amaze us; she has the highest overall marks in her program and is the top student of her class of 47, again a remarkable achievement especially when many of her classmates are urban kids who have had a much higher quality of education. We have now supplied her with a used laptop. Sopeak continues to spend her Sunday’s mentoring, inspiring and teaching English to younger students in the countryside. Sopeak studies like her life depends on it and today she spoke again about how her dream of an education is coming true.

These are a few of the success stories that your commitment to KIDS and your generosity has helped to bring about.

Thank You! and all the best to you and yours,
Rick and Adrianne