Friday, December 21, 2018

Full Circle

Dear Friends,

Hope all is well? Many of you may remember the story of Sopeak. We first met Sopeak in the countryside outside of Siem Reap 11 years ago. We were delivering food, household supplies and clothing to her village, where some of the families were so desperately poor many kids did not have clothes.

While in the village, from the edge of the circle which formed around us, a woman pushed her daughter forward and told her to speak to us in English. Sopeak was very small and shy but spoke to us in very clear and accent free English, which was quite astonishing as she lived so far out in the countryside. She had learned some English from an American teacher who had taught her while in her village.
The short version of the last 11 years is that K.I.D.S. sponsored Sopeak's education from that point on to complete elementary, high school, English classes and university. Sopeak rode many, many kilometers in her 12 hour days to and from school on her bicycle through the choking dust of the dry season and the muddy, rutted, water filled potholes of the rainy season. After high school K.I.D.S. sponsored Sopeak to live in the the city, in a rented room, and we provided a small living stipend for her while she attended university. Through elementary, high school as well as university Sopeak received top marks in all her classes; all the while struggling with a 50% hearing loss, due to infection that was left untreated, as the family could not afford medication.

Last year we attended Sopeak's wedding, she married a gem of a man, they love each other very much and they now have a beautiful and happy 4-month old boy.

When Sopeak was young, being the eldest child, she and her father would hunt frogs and fish to try to feed the rest of the family through very difficult times. We are so happy to see the outcome of Sopeak's dedication to education and fight to improve her lot in life. She and her husband have bought a small piece of land behind her parent's house and are working on a simple basic house and have planted fruit trees to establish a future home.
We recently went out to visit her family, the family has improved their lot in life by working together. Inspired by Sopeak, in her quest for education, her 4 younger sisters have learned or are in the process of learning English and the two older ones have good jobs as well.

But the best thing of all is that Sopeak is now a school teacher in the very same village school that she went to as a child. She has truly come full circle in her life and is now passing on both the goodwill that all of you have shared by supporting Sopeak and the knowledge that she has received through education to other children. As well Sopeak hopes to teach English to village children.

We hope that Sopeak's story will bring some joy to your hearts and a smile to your faces at this time of year.

From Sopeak and the many students and families, under your collective wings, and ourselves we thank you and wish you all the best this Holiday Season and may you be surrounded in a circle of love of friends and family.

Till Next Time
Rick and Adrianne

Monday, December 10, 2018

Human Rights Day

Dear Friends,

Hope all is well? Today it is World Human Rights Day and a holiday here in Cambodia. Rather ironic as a vast amount of the people here still live without many of these human rights.

We have been busy since getting our feet back on the ground and trying to level the human rights playing field for more children and families here. We are expanding our Smart Kids education sponsorship program and the other day we visited some new students and families living in and around the brick factories. These families eke out a subsistence living by working incredibly long days fishing, making bricks or bagging and carrying rice. The resilience of humanity and these particular children and families never fails to move us deeply.

We know that education changes lives! We also know that having a decent and hygienic living environment improves the health, hope and well being of children and families. We are working hard to be able to improve the living conditions of some of the poorest families with new or renovated houses and bathrooms. After the home visits we have to assess who is in the greatest need and make difficult heartwrenching choices, not an easy job.

The families are all so grateful to be given a helping hand. One young woman, who is 29, and has three children, lives in a very poor house with her husband and kids, as we chatted with her, her daughter (who will be joining our Smart Kids program) came back to the house...after having to go to a dirty pond to bathe. Although we cannot afford to build them a house this year we are able to tell them that we can build them a bathroom/bathing room...the mother's face lit up and she was very grateful.

Another boy named E, who is in our sponsorship program, is now living in the city attending a training program. E was going home every weekend to carry and haul rice bags to help his widowed mother and family. E weighs about 42 kilograms and he carries and loads trucks with 50 kg bags of rice....about 150 bags a day. He is 17 and every weekend he returned from his home tired and sore and was having trouble concentrating on his weekly studies and training.

We were able to help E's family with a stipend of $50.00 a month so he does not have to ruin his body while trying to help his family survive. When E finishes his training program he will be able to will find a good job and help his mother and family again.

Thank You!! for supporting KIDS and improving Human Rights and changing lives for the better.

Until next time,
Adrianne and Rick

Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Getting Started

Hello Everyone,

We are now settled into our life in Cambodia. After a few days off we started visiting the different projects and people we all support as well as meeting with some of the people we will be working with on new projects. As always it is heartwarming to see everyone, especially the kids.

Going to the Girl's Home is like visiting our family. Each year the girls get older and it is great to see them thriving and doing so well. Some of the older girls now have jobs and others are attending some training programs while the younger ones continue their education at Cambodian and English schools. You Vath, housemother, and social worker, continues to provide them with a loving and supportive home and they really are a family. Thanks to everyone's support these girls are not living in dire situations and can move forward in life with confidence, skills and respect for themselves.

One of the projects we are working on this year is building four new classrooms for an overcrowded and run down school in the brick factory area. The principal and teachers are very committed to teaching and there is a long wait list of children who cannot attend this school. The new classrooms and more teachers will address this situation. So everyone is very excited to increase learning opportunities for more students.

We have worked in this area for several years and are really inspired by how hard the school staff work to improve the lives of these children who live in incredibly difficult situations. School is a safe haven where children can learn instead of making and hauling bricks.

Not only will this project improve the lives of more children it will also improve the lives of about 22 of the villagers and their families who will have steady work for four months. K.I.D.S. is committed to paying decent wages and treating workers with fairness and respect, which they greatly appreciate.

K.I.D.S. is off to a great start!!! We pass on our smiles of appreciation for your support! We look forward to sharing more stories of success and transformation soon.

Wishing you and yours the very best,
Adrianne and Rick

Sunday, November 11, 2018

Time To Go

Dear Friends,

Another period of being home has come and is almost gone as we get ready to depart on another trip to Cambodia and Nepal on November 12. This past year saw many students supported by K.I.D.S. graduating from various levels of schooling. Some moving on after post-secondary education or vocational training programs, finding employment, and improving their lives while already pitching in helping younger siblings and family.

K.I.D.S. home for girls and the preschool/kindergarten are both doing their intended purpose of sheltering, protecting and educating poor and vulnerable children. The coming months will be busy putting all of your donations, positive intentions and good will to work.

The resources you provide will bring housing, hygiene and mothers and children will be feeling better after seeing healthcare workers funded by your contributions.

Some 10,000 students arrive daily at school, thirsty after a long walk or bike ride and they will be able to quench their thirst at school water projects thanks to you. We are working and adding a couple more water projects this upcoming trip.

Wine & Wrap - Oct 26, 2018
We have been very busy this fall with our fundraiser which was held on the 26th of October. For those of you who were there, we are honoured and humbled by your continuous support and the amazing energy and feel you bring to the event.

Bicycles have already been purchased from the proceeds of the event and we are hoping to buy many more so children can attend school.

As well workers have broken ground for the four new classrooms at an overcrowded school in a very poor rural area.

As we hold our hands up to wave goodbye, the hand up you give to so many has, is and will continue to change lives.... THANK YOU!

Until next time,
Rick and Adrianne

Wednesday, September 19, 2018


Dear Friends,

In our part of the world, summer is over and fall is upon us, which for so many kids means back to school. We hope that the transition for your kids, grandkids or significant kids is going well.

In Cambodia children and youth are also getting ready to go back to school. It is the rainy season there and this makes getting to and from school more challenging, especially if you live in the countryside and have to cycle or walk long distances on dirt or mud roads to get an education.

Some families cannot afford to buy a bike, even though they only cost $50.00, the family may buy one bike for everyone to use to get to market and around the village and if they have four children some kids have to drop out of school or cannot attend. One bike can help carry siblings to school.

Each year, thanks to K.I.D.S. donors, we try to buy hundreds of bikes to improve the opportunity for education as well as assist families. Often schools and school children here in our community raise funds for bikes. This past week K.I.D.S. bought 55 bicycles and our project partner, Kim Thol, in Cambodia delivered them to kids who needed them. We will buy and supply more as the year goes on.

Thanks to everyone who contributed to help make this happen. Here are Mateo and Bailey, a couple of local children who recently saved money to buy bikes. It is heartwarming to see kids helping kids and putting their kindness into action.

Until next time,
Adrianne and Rick

Friday, August 17, 2018

Grateful Grads

Dear Friends,

We hope you are all enjoying the summer. Although it is summer here, in Cambodia school has just recently finished. As you may recall this past year K.I.D.S. was able to support 10 young people to attend a very good post-secondary hospitality and tourism training program. Through generous donations we were able to send the kids to school as well as provide them with a safe place to stay with Hak, one of the great people we work with in Siem Reap, Cambodia. K.I.D.S. has sponsored these students since grade 6 in hope that one day they would be able to break the cycle of poverty and find employment outside of the brick factories, ending a life of hard labour.

Well, the good news is...All of the students passed their difficult final exams and the "REALLY" good news is that 9 out of 10 have found employment in the tourism industry. The tenth student is upgrading in English and we know he will be successful in finding employment as well.

When we met these students as small kids 8 years ago it was heartbreaking to see them in brick factories pulling heavy carts, stacking mountains of bricks and sometimes running dangerous machinery to help their families survive. When K.I.D.S. sponsorship freed them from hard labour and allowed them to focus their internal fires on education, there was no stopping them! Learning English, French, computers and hospitality skills like cooking, baking, housekeeping, reception and hotel management they took full advantage of the opportunities awarded to them. They have once again proved that education combined with persistence pays. Over the years watching these young people work so hard to change their futures has been inspiring and only by having your support has their success been possible.

Thanks to K.I.D.S donors these young people and many more students, who are at different levels of education in our sponsorship program, are not only changing their lives for the better they will also change the lives of their children and future generations. They asked us to pass along their gratitude.

With Utmost Thanks
Until next time,
Adrianne and Rick