Saturday, March 17, 2018

Batteries, Bilges and Bikes

Dear Friends,

We hope all is well with you. We recently went out to the Stung Sen River and the Tonle Sap Lake to make and install pumps that will assist The Lake Clinic, Cambodia. The new pumps are simple and effective and will increase the longevity of the hulls by pumping rain water out of the bilges in the rainy season. We also had new batteries installed at three of the five clinics. The batteries store the power from the solar systems and in turn allow the clinics to have electricity for lighting, medical equipment and fans; believe us in 35 degree weather fans are precious! Thanks to Compassionate Eye Foundation for supporting the infrastructure of this important program that brings healthcare to those living in very poor and isolated areas. Sometimes it is the things that are not necessarily noticed that are in fact important in easing the lives of others.

We also went out to the countryside to deliver more bikes that are supported by K.I.D.S. donors. The students and families were very appreciative. Buying bikes here in Cambodia improves lives in three ways. Since we buy bikes locally our purchase supports the families that sell and fix bicycles. Giving a student a bike allows them to get to school and often they can take one of their siblings, with them, as so many have to travel long distances. The third benefit is for the families themselves, they can use bikes to get to clinics, take their children to and from home and buy food at the local market. Together, this year, thanks to your generosity we provided close to 200 bikes to kids and families. A special thanks to Yoeun (Kim) Thol and Sok Hak who work with us and schools/villages to improve lives and opportunities for education and a big "Thank You" for your continued support.

Until Next time,
Adrianne and Rick

Thursday, March 8, 2018

International Women's Day

Hi Everyone,

Over the years K.I.D.S. has supported many girls and women. Today being​ ​International Women's Day we thought we would share a few of their stories.

Some of you may remember Sopeak, the girl with the hearing disability, who we met many years ago while visiting a poor rural village. Sopeak's mother pushed her forward from a crowd and told her to speak English and to our surprise she spoke very clearly. It turns out that she would ride her bike long distances to study at a small free English program, which had closed down. We were so impressed we offered to help her to continue her studies at a better school. That was 12 years ago. Since that time KIDS has supported Sopeak to study English and university in the city, she was often the top of her class and finished a degree in accounting and English. Coming to the city was very frightening for her however she faced her fears and worked hard and now she teaches English and Khmer at an Australian non-profit program for at risk girls.

Sopeak is now a 25 year old woman with a vision and a good job, she is married to a great man who loves her dearly and they are expecting their first baby. Sopeak has helped her family by having her sisters live with her in the city and now they both have good jobs and finished school; she also helped her parents and they were able to move from their small thatched shack and build a bigger house. Sopeak and her husband managed to buy some land and are growing mangos and other fruits and will one-day move there to be closer to her family. Education changes girl's lives and the lives of their families and Sopeak is a great example of this truth.

Sohing's School 
A few years ago, at one of our favourite restaurants, we got to know Sohing, one of the servers. After many conversations we found out that she worked 6 days a week, 12 hours a day. Sohing comes from a small village which is very poor. We discovered that she paid a teacher to teach English to some of the poorer children in her village and as these kids were often hungry she would also go out once a week on her day off and cook them a nutritious meal.

We went to visit her little school which is under her small, wooden family home. We met 35 kids that were very happy to learn and doing well with their lessons. We asked her if we could help her; that was two years ago. Sohing now lives back in her home/village, works her land, and with K.I.D.S. support keeps her little school going. This amazing woman sacrificed her own meager wages to help these lovely kids. Recently we took them all on an outing, the students adore Sohing and their teacher and have dreams of finding good jobs and bettering their lives.

Stung Treng Women's Development Centre 
This incredible program was started by two inspiring people, Kim Dara Chan and Chantha Nguon, many years ago. The program trains poor, uneducated women in the art of silk weaving. We visited their program 14 years ago and were moved by how these women were able to make a decent living in a caring, respectful and supportive community. One issue for the women was daycare and so a small daycare/kindergarten was initiated. Thanks to K.I.D.S. donors we now provide 40 children with a creative, educational program. The women who teach there are incredibly committed and skilled; in fact, when these kids go on to the government schools they are often number 1 or 2 in their classes. Now these women do not have to live in poverty and their children are happy and healthy just steps away from where they work. The beautiul silk products they make are sold around the world. In addition this year K.I.D.S. has implemented a computer training program where girl's and women can learn computer skills as well.

We admire the strength, commitment and perseverance of these girls and women who have succeeded against incredible odds. They have worked hard to improve their lives, the lives of their children, families and communities. 
Thanks for your support! 

All the best to all of you,
Adrianne and Rick

Thursday, March 1, 2018

The Lake Clinic

Hello Everyone,

Going out on the Tonle Sap Lake in central Cambodia never fails to be both an adventure and a challenge. This time of year it is very hot and humid out there and once the sun sets an onslaught of insects come out in full force to any light source so it is wise to be in bed and in your mosquito net just past sunset at around 6:30 pm. The locals, including children, mostly fish for a living and spend virtually their entire lives afloat either on their homes or boats.

The Lake Clinic Cambodia (TLC) was founded 10 years ago by Jon Morgan. The struggles of severe poverty is compounded by life on the water and prior to the founding of TLC there was a total lack of access to health care. Each week two TLC teams, comprised of a doctor, nurse, midwife, pharmacist, and registrar rotate through the four clinics on the lake and one on the Stung Sen River (that K.I.D.S. built 6 years ago). On our trips out to the lake we have witnessed the incredible difference that these medical teams make in easing the suffering of children and families. Without a doubt TLC and their amazing and dedicated teams save lives.

Jon was grateful when we told him that this year K.I.D.S. was able to help TLC by providing funding for two of the three midwives who work for TLC.

The environment on the lake is not only hard on people it is demanding on the infrastructure of TLC. This trip the solar powered battery banks, of two of the clinics, that provide electricity for lighting, computers and fans to keep patients and staff comfortable needed replacing. We also redesigned and replaced the pumping systems on the clinics with simple local technology to help keep water out of the hulls. Thank you Compassionate Eye Foundation for funding the batteries and pumps.

We recently went out to the lake and spent a couple of days doing repairs and improvements on the floating clinics. Adrianne and I and the TLC boat pilot spent our time replacing plugs and switches, repainting doors, installing wire to stop birds from coming into the clinics and building and installing the pumps.

K.I.D.S. also provided school supplies and some repairs to the little floating school that is next door to the clinic. Last year K.I.D.S was able to keep this little school afloat by buying new bamboo to put under the school. This small simple one room school provides the children an opportunity for education and respite from the daily struggles of fishing and a subsistence living on the lake.

We are literally in awe of the residents of the lake who live and work in these conditions indefinitely and the teams from TLC who travel long distances out there weekly to make their lives healthier.

Thank you to all K.I.D.S. supporters and donors, your assistance here keeps kids healthy and makes a difference beyond measure.

Till Next Time,
Rick and Adrianne