Thursday, December 28, 2017

A Sense of Home

Dear Friends,

We hope that all is well as the Christmas holidays come to a close and a new year is just around the corner. The one thing that seems to be a constant during the holidays is a sense of home, gathering together at the homes of parents, family or friends and sharing with those who are important in our lives.

 Over the years of doing this work sometimes the results are not so easy to measure. Often the outcomes seem clouded by witnessing the immense struggles and difficulties faced by so many that we cannot help. It helps to know that thousands of children drink clean water daily, thanks to KIDS water projects and feel better for it, or that many more children can read and write and that girls and young women are more safe and secure. These differences absolutely confirm that our combined efforts make a difference, however sometimes it is seeing the more intimate changes in each family that really touches our hearts.

Each week we travel out to the area where we are building homes and bathrooms for the children and families who live and work in the brick factories. Previously these families were housed in terrible shacks or rudimentary shelters in the corners of the brick factories with no sanitation facilities. Under these living conditions the despair, sadness and drudgery the families face is very hard to witness.

We see the difference in the families who have received toilets and decent housing, and it is very moving, They are now growing vegetable gardens, raising chickens, ducks, some are raising pigs and flower gardens are growing. The houses and bathrooms are clean and there is a sense of pride as they laugh and talk with us.

When we ask them how they feel their lives have improved, they say now that they live off the factory land and are no longer indentured to the factory owners they can take a day off if needed. They express a feeling of security and safety, they no longer worry that they or their children will be bitten by snakes going to the bathroom in the bushes at night...and most of all there is a sense of happiness that they did not have before. A huge thank you to Sarah Gilks and her Healthy Role Models program participants for partnering with KIDS donors to make this life changing work happen.

As you gather together at your homes to welcome the new year please know that your kindness and generosity has and continues to provide homes for others and everyone expresses a most heartfelt "Thank You" for making this possible.

From all of us here, we wish you and yours a very Happy New Year!!

Till next time,
Adrianne and Rick

Sunday, December 17, 2017

Holiday Smiles Across the Miles

Dear Friends,

As the holiday season approaches we are thinking of you all as you gather together. We hope wherever you are that you have time to enjoy each other and share some good food, good cheer, laughter as well as remember those that we have loved and are no longer with us. It is often a time of gratitude and looking forward to the new year. We want to thank you all for your friendship and for your support and for assisting the wonderful kids in Cambodia. You have brought a lot of happiness and some great smiles to children are just a few.

We send a toast of goodwill, peace, love and friendship to you all,

Til next time,

Adrianne and Rick

Friday, December 8, 2017

Change in the Making

Hello Everyone,

Hope all is well? Over the years together we have influenced many children's lives here in Cambodia and surrounding countries. After 17 years KIDS and donors have assisted a generation of young students and adults. This past fall we had 10 students graduate from high school, which without KIDS assistance would have never happened. Their futures have been changed immensely. We know how difficult the direction of their lives would have been compared to the life course they are now on.

Last October we enrolled 10 students into Paul Dubrule, which is one of the best hospitality and tourism training schools in the country. The students have to pass a tough entry exam in general knowledge and English which they did as they all worked so hard for many years, to get this chance.

The other day we had the pleasure to go and visit some of them at their school. It does not seem that long ago that they were in grade six, the age where due to poverty most children drop out of school and go to work full time. Back then we visited them at their meager thatched homes and asked their parents to let KIDS support their education to help them avoid a life of toiling in brick factories, where many of them were already employed part time.

These young people are so excited and appreciative to have this opportunity. After the one-year program they are pretty well guaranteed a job in the hospitality/tourism industry. Their transformation is quite outstanding.

It was with joy that we witnessed them working at the school training restaurant as they prepared and served an exceptional meal while chatting with us in English.

They look and act so professional and their smiles say it all. We know education changes lives and thanks to everyone that has changed these young people's futures...we also know for certain that they will ease their families' situations.

A huge thank you from all of them.

Till next time,
Adrianne and Rick

Thursday, November 30, 2017

Partners in Change

Hello Everyone,

Hope all is well with you. We now have several projects underway but in this email we will focus on the construction of toilet/bathing rooms that we are building for rural children and their families in our Smart Kids Education Sponsorship Program.

The Smart Kids Program started out with 8 students in grade 6 in 2011, there are now 33 students in the program. We became acquainted with these students through Hak, who worked with schools, in the brick factory and subsistence fishing area where these students live. Hak now helps us manage the Smart Kids program. The students and their families live in very difficult situations, facing poor housing conditions with either very rudimentary or no toilet/ bathing facilities. It is hard to conceive that families living with elderly parents and several children would not have a toilet or place to bathe.

Last week we went out and toured the homes and villages of the student's families to decide which families' situations were the most critical. Trying to make a decision is difficult, as virtually none of the families have any form of decent facilities however we made our choices. Last year in partnership with Lush Charity Pot we built 6 bathroom facilities and our hope is to eventually assist all 33 families.

As K.I.D.S. projects and programs have evolved over the years so have the partnerships we have formed in order to implement them. In the case of this project the team involves Hak and Sokha, the principal of the school, who helps us choose the families who are most in need and Pov and his team of local Cambodian builders. This project is made possible thanks to K.I.D.S. donors and this year we once again partnered with Sarah Gilks and the Healthy Role Models Program in Nanaimo, who generously raised funds for ten bathrooms. Together we are going to bring sanitation, hygiene and dignity to 17 or 18 more families over the course of this the next few months.
It is always uplifting seeing the gratitude and relief that the chosen families feel, which takes away some of the sting of witnessing the struggles these families and children face. The hard part is walking away from others outside of the budget, for now we promise them, we will be back.

So on behalf of these children and families and ourselves we send a most sincere thank you...our partnership is making a difference and lightening the burden of many.

We will continue to update you as things progress.

Till next time,
Rick and Adrianne

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Back to the Countryside

Hello Everyone,
Hope all is well with you and yours. We are now in Cambodia and after a few days of R&R we are back visiting KIDS programs and starting new projects. Going out to the countryside we are always struck by the contrasts of beauty and poverty. The green rice fields and red roads are beautiful and people use many modes of transportation to travel to and from their destinations.

As we visit different communities we see the children coming and going to school, often walking or riding their bikes. Many have to travel long distances and support each other along their way.

We visit very poor families living in incredibly difficult situations,working hard to

make ends meet however they always greet us with hospitality and smiles.

The rainy season is coming to an end, flood waters are starting to recede and both people and pets await dry ground.

So now we can begin to build toilets, houses, school water systems and much more to improve the lives of these hardworking people. Thanks so much to everyone for helping make these changes possible. We will keep you updated.

Until next time,

Adrianne and Rick

Thursday, November 9, 2017

Farewell for Now

Hi Everyone,

Hope this finds you all well? Hard to believe another complete set of seasons has come and gone and we are off on our 18th trip.Though we will miss family and friends we are keen to get to work in Cambodia.

Last year thanks to everyone's generosity we were able to bring hundreds more children and their families clean drinking water. Together we also were able to support our ongoing programs which include: the girls home, preschool/kindergarten and rural student sponsorship program. We bought hundreds of bikes so kids could go to school as well as books and other educational needs. We built houses, toilets and floated a sinking school, supported medical care in isolated areas as well as started new computer and English classes.

This year we are hoping to do it all again and are excited that KIDS will be able to build at least 2 new water projects, many toilets for rural families, hopefully a couple of houses for very poor families as well as other needed projects yet to be determined. If possible we are hoping to support more classrooms and continue to sponsor students so they do not have to live a life of hard labour working in brick factories.

On behalf of KIDS and ourselves we want to send you our sincere appreciation for your contributions of funds, support, volunteerism and well wishes.

We look forward to keeping you all up to date on the difference you are making in so many children and families lives.

Wishing you and yours all the very best,

Adrianne and Rick