by Rey Buenaventura, Social Media Manager
It’s with mixed emotions that we share our final project update from Rick & Adrianne Dartnell of K.I.D.S. International. Over the past few months, we’ve been sharing their emails on the CEF blog so that others can gain a ‘ first-hand’ account of the various challenges and triumphs that the Cambodia Floating Health Clinic project have experienced. Overall, we’re extremely happy that this CEF sponsored project has turned out to be such a success. We want to thank everyone from the Lake Clinic Staff, K.I.D.S. International, and our CEF Project Coordinators who have worked hard on making this much-needed, medical facility become a reality.
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Our time here is running short and this will be our final update… After leaving the clinic and carrying on by boat up the Stung Sen river we continued on to Stung Treng province to visit the women’s weaving cooperative; where we support the on-site kindergarten and daycare for the weaver’s children… The weaving center, though a bit slow this year due a reduction in sales because of the world economy, is still an amazing force in the province that provides a good work environment, fair wages and stability for many women and their families. Srey Po Free School, in the village behind the center, is the school that K.I.D.S. built four years ago and continues to fund totally. The children attending the school were children that were at risk due to lack of nutrition and many were malnourished. It is great to see how the children have changed; they have rounded out and are full of energy and happy as they go about their day learning to read, write and play… One father was extremely grateful, happy and a little emotional as he expressed how the parents appreciate that they have a school in their village, as before there was no option for educating their children.
On the outskirts of Siem Reap we assist an organisation called New Hope that a few short years ago had a tiny school and assisted a few people with home repairs and mosquito nets. They have grown tremendously and now educate 700 plus children at their school and help many more through their clinic, rice drop and vocational programs. We have helped them with many different needs over the years. This year there were four small children, recently orphaned as their mother died of liver failure. New Hope lacked the budget to bring them into their shelter home. We met these beautiful kids and have provided funding to keep them supported for a year with education, medicine and living expenses, this will give New Hope time to either secure more funding or find a safe and suitable home for them. Thanks to Kerry the children are receiving lots of love and support.
While in Phnom Penh we visited the eleven children and youth that K.I.D.S. supports with various levels of education, from elementary school to three of them in university. One of the young adults, Sen, graduated university last year and has moved on to find work teaching English and has also opened a traditional dance school (see picture, Sen in white in the front). Sen has had a difficult life to say the least; she was born in a refugee camp for survivors of the Cambodian genocide and orphaned there at a young age. Where most children spend their childhood at play and school Sen would be sneaking under the barbed wire fence evading armed guards to forage in the forest for food to fend off hunger. Thanks to a wonderful man named Sinath, Sen and about 50 other orphaned children from the camp were the first Cambodian children to be repatriated back to Cambodia once the dust and horror settled in the country… Sen was later adopted by Sinath and his wife…. Sen continued to persevere and study despite a late start, when we met her she had a dream to go to university and we were able to help her fulfill her aspiration. While she studied she also tutored the younger children K.I.D.S. supported.
Sen had a surprise for us when we arrived and introduced us to her fiancé, a very nice young man from France. They will marry in France in May and then both return to Cambodia. When they return they have plans to start a small NGO to assist more children and give back as well as continue working at their jobs. It is a beautiful thing to see the sparkle in their eyes and their love for each other, but most of all that Sen has triumphed through incredible odds and danger and is now a bright and happy young woman full of life and promise. A very happy story for us all.
We are in Bangkok resting for a few days before we head home. Doing this work, we witnessed much sadness and difficulty. However, we also witnessed the compassion, generosity, dedication and selflessness of others both here and at home, which is truly inspiring for us. Thanks to all of you who have contributed in so many ways to the work this year and in the past. There are many healthier children and families, many children receiving an education and 400 plus children receiving a daily meal through food programs provided by K.I.D.S.
Your contribution to this work is priceless and we thank you!
Rick and Adrianne