Monday, March 30, 2015

Ending with Water

Hi Everyone,

We want to let you know about another project. We have talked about Feeding Dreams Cambodia (FDC) in the past and previous posts this trip. Just a quick recap about FDC, they do amazing work serving children living in slum areas around a certain section of Siem Reap. They serve meals to over 800 children each day and teach English and computer classes for free. They are currently working on a vocational training center but that is another story; which we hope to be a part of in the future.

FDC tried their best to purchase clean drinking water in 20-liter jugs but the demand was very difficult to keep up with.  We decided the children really needed access to "a lot" of clean water. We are happy to say that, once again, we have been fortunate to partner with Lush Charity Pot to bring clean water to the 800 plus children who attend FDC.

Lush Charity Pot is committed to supporting grassroots projects around the world and advocates for human rights, environment, animals and people in need.They do terrific work and we greatly appreciate their support in providing clean water for children here in Cambodia.

We have been very busy wrapping up our work here in the last couple of weeks and we just had time to complete this last water project. Once again we have had the pleasure of watching these children, who have so little in their lives, have an abundance of clean, fresh drinking water. Like the previous water projects they not only benefit the children who attend school but the children can also take water home to their siblings and parents. One little guy is taking two liters home daily to his mom who just had a baby and is a single parent.
We leave for home in a few hours and have said goodbye to our many friends and children living here, we are sad to leave and a little tired, but also happy to soon see friends and family back home.

We have so many people who contribute to KIDS in many different ways; individual donors, local school children, Vancouver Island University Social Justice Club, young children who forgo their birthday gifts, The Compassionate Eye Foundation, West Jet and Lush Charity Pot.  It is difficult to find words to express to all of you how much your kindness has impacted so many.

Your combined contributions now continue all year round to support, educate, clothe, feed, provide healthcare and profoundly impact large numbers of children and their families. Your generosity transforms sadness into joy and smiles for so many.

In the past two years we have partnered and combined our resources to bring clean drinking water to over 3,000 children and their families, and that is something we can all smile about.

With great appreciation to all of you who support us and KIDS,
Rick and Adrianne

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Short Stories

Hi All,

Hope all is well with you and yours. We thought we would send you a few stories of some of the people we encounter and are able to assist.


While visiting the Smart Kids program we noticed there was one new girl, when we asked about her, Hak, the program coordinator, said she had asked to come to English tutoring on Sundays, even though she was not part of the Smart Kids program. When we went to visit her house, we realized she did not have a house as it had fallen down in a wind storm. Her mother died and herfather had left she and her two older brothers to fed for themselves. Sarah and her brothers were living on a platform on a piece of land that belonged to their aunt, who had no room for them in her poor, tiny house. We decided we needed to help Sarah's situation and so directed funds for the brothers and Sarah to build a small tiny house (as we did not have the funds to build much more). So they did! Thanks to K.I.D.S., Sarah is now fully funded for both English and Khmer school, she has a bicycle and she and her brothers have a place to live, protected from the extreme elements of sun and rain.


You Vath, director of the girl's home that K.I.D.S. funds, told us about an elderly woman living on her own in the countryside. We went to visit her and found her working around her small plot of land and her house which is really just a shack. She warmly welcomed us. Om has children but they live a ways away and are very poor so she fends for herself without electricity, a toilet or any real comforts; she takes care of what little she has and even grows a small garden. Om is 85, very frail but incredibly flexible. You Vath takes her out rice and other essentials once and a while. When we asked her what she needed she
told us all she really wanted was a clock with big numbers so she could know what time it was. Om has a small battery operated radio and likes to listen to a certain radio program, however, she does not know the time it is on. We brought her out a mattress and pillow, mats for the floor, some pots and pans, a solar light, clock and other essentials... she was very thankful. We also brought a couple tarps for her roof for the rainy season. An amazing woman who has survived the genocied, starvation and years of poverty. Her wonderful smile shows her strength and her spirit.


Reaksmay is one of the girls in the Smart Kids Program.We heard she was in a very difficult situation. Her mother died and her father is paralyzed and they lost their home and land due to medical costs. They were forced to live in a small community hall in Kompong Kleang, the fishing port and brick making area where we work. Her housing situation is only temporary. Reaksmay has two younger sisters and is the sole caretaker of them all and yet she still manages to work very hard in school and English... she is only 15. We were hoping to find a little piece of property and build them a small house, however, so far this has been difficult. We had not been able to find a solution to this issue, but we are still pursuing possibilities. For the time being we will provide a small stipend for rice and food to assist the family. We also went out and bought the children and father some clothes as they did not have hardly any. The village commune council will allow them to stay for a few more months. If you met Reaksmay, you would never dream she faces such challenges in her young life. She cares for her family is hardworking and has a beautiful nature. Although we have witnessed her tears, what she demonstrates is a will to go on and make a better life for herself and her family.

These are a few short stories of how K.I.D.S. addresses some situations that are placed on our path. Although our focus is often education, healthcare, computer training and clean water for large communities of children and families, it is hard to walk past those that we meet who are facing very challenging individual situations. Your support makes it possible to also change one child, one family or one desperate situation in a significant way.

All the best,
Adrianne and Rick

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

A Compassionate Eye

Hi All,

One of the things we truly value in our work with K.I.D.S. is our partnership in compassion with our many donors and supporters. We greatly appreciate all contributions large and small. We would like to write about one of K.I.D.S. partners in particular; the one we have with the Compassionate Eye Foundation (CEF) from Vancouver.

Earlier in the year we had four volunteer board members from CEF and one of their volunteer photographers join us to visit projects that we have implemented together here in Cambodia. Over the past few years we have teamed up and completed two water projects, a floating clinic, solar power for a floating school, a girl's only bathroom at a large high school and just recently added 11 new children to our Smart K.I.D.S. program, in a rural area outside Siem Reap.

A couple of weeks ago we completed another water project at Wat Selai Primary School supported by CEF. Wat Selai School, up until now, did not have a clean and healthy source of drinking water for the 550 plus children who attend school daily. The school is also where the Smart Kids program is held on the weekends. We have happily written about several other K.I.D.S. water projects before and as always it is just amazing to see the children drinking their fill and knowing that they will not become ill when they quench their thirst or feel fatigue from dehydration. It is a sight we will never tire of.

 FDC also offers youth and young adults free computer classes.  Previously they had some used laptops and a couple of older PC's. They were lacking some computers and a laptop for the very qualified IT teacher, to allow full classes four times a day. With the support of CEF we were able to fully stock the lab with the rest of the equipment needed to allow the class to be as effective as possible.

The Compassionate Eye Foundation works in many places around the world, bringing education, health and sustainability to children and their families. Thank you Sue, Leah, Michael, Dan and Steven for coming to Cambodia and connecting so positively with the children and everyone you came in contact with. You and the other CEF board members back home truly represent the "compassion" in the Compassionate Eye Foundation. We admire the work you all do for so many.

 Until Next Time
Adrianne and Rick

Monday, March 2, 2015

Books Afloat

Hi All,

We recently finished building a small library on the floating school that KIDS built a few years ago. The school is located in an isolated floating village on the Tonle Sap Lake. There are three large classrooms at the school however one classroom was needed to house the three teachers, who have to live on the school year round. As well the same room stores food from the World Food Program, which helps with food security for the children who are very poor. Last year the teachers asked us if we could split the room in half and make a small library for the students as well as build a small storage area for supplies. They also asked us for books, shelves and a computer so the teachers could make their lessons to print and distribute to the children. As we had put solar on the school is was possible to have a computer; there is no power in the village.

Usually building this kind of room would be no problem however building on the lake brings a whole set of challenges, which we quickly found out. After we bought the wall panels, framing material, screws etc we had to figure a way to get it out to where the boat was. We asked for a truck to bring the materials to the lakes edge, which is about an hour from the city. We waited to meet the truck. We also had our own toolbox and our gear to stay a few days. Not only did we have to bring everything we need for the project we also had to bring everything from mosquito nets to drinking water. We were waiting at the side of the road for the truck when a busload of people pulled up and motioned us over. There on the top of the bus were our panels, not what we had expected but they got there. Next we had to trek the panels down the bank, where fishermen sell their fish and carry them across a number of rickety planks and on to the boat. We got everything out there and spent a few days building the library. Thanks to the Lake Clinic for letting us stay on their floating clinic.

The next step was to buy the books, computer, shelves, mats, fans, white board etc. and do the trip all over again. This time we hired a van and loaded it up, back to the port/fishing bank and onto a very slow old wooden boat. We loaded everything aboard and luckily for us the driver put a makeshift canopy over the boat so we did not have to roast in the blazing sun.
We arrived a few hours later and delivered the materials. The next morning we set up the library and computer. Building and stocking the library took us a couple of week's altogether and at times was very hot and tiring. However once the children entered the library and we saw their faces, as they looked at all the storybooks, it was well worth it. These children have no access to storybooks of any kind. 

The only reading practice they get is reading what the teacher writes on the black board or what they write in their own lesson books. The books we purchased are all in the Khmer language, as children out on the Lake do not know any English. The students entered the library and sat in small groups, on the new mats on the floor and eagerly started to look at the pictures and read. The teachers gave them a lesson on how to turn pages properly and care for the books. 

At lunchtime a few of the young monks, from the floating monastery, rowed over and sat and read the books too.

In our world books are so readily accessed but here in Cambodia reading for pleasure is not available to most children living in poor rural or isolated areas.

While we were coordinating and executing the library we also were working on the logistics of refloating the small, old school with new bamboo. The old bamboo was waterlogged and the building, which serves as the school playground, was sinking slowly and would not have stayed afloat too much longer. KIDS supplied the funding for the bamboo floatation and the community organized and donated their labour to install it, not an easy job. During the nine months of high water on the lake the children have no place to run and play and their movements are restricted to boats and their tiny floating shacks.

Thanks to all for giving these children an opportunity to escape their very difficult lives; they now can jump and run and disappear into different worlds of fantasy, fiction and fables.

All best to you and yours,
Adrianne and Rick