Posts Tagged ‘Cambodia’

Helping to Break the Cycle of Poverty in Cambodia

Monday, July 27th, 2015

Leah Lockhart, Communications Chair

Education is one of the keys to escaping poverty but, unfortunately for many children, poverty is the biggest barrier to attending school.

During the CEF visit to Cambodia in January, we met with a group of students in a program run by our partner, Kids International Development Society (K.I.D.S.). The program, called Smart Kids, supports children who otherwise would not be able to receive an education.

In Cambodia, especially in rural areas, parents often cannot afford the costs associated with school and require their children to work or help with household chores. Many children work to help support their families and are unable to go to class.

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The children put on a play explaining the importance of clean drinking water.

We met with students at the school where Compassionate Eye was funding a clean water project. Although it was the weekend, the entire school, teachers, and parents came out to greet us. The students in the Smart Kids program performed a fabulous play demonstrating the importance of clean water and how children often miss class because they are ill from drinking unclean water.

Later that afternoon, we visited some of the students in their homes to help us better understand why they were enrolled in the Smart Kids program. Families in that area have very low incomes, mostly derived from fishing and labour – in this case, primarily brick factories. The children, ages six and up, work in the factories alongside their parents, in poor working conditions, often operating dangerous machinery or stacking bricks in kilns.

A kiln in one of the brick factories.

Sadly, many of the children also call these factories home. The stark contrast of these smiling faces in crisp school uniforms sitting at their desks, followed by seeing them in their day clothes surrounded by the dusty, grim factory grounds was unsettling. Many of the families living on the brick factory property cannot leave because they don’t own land and can’t afford to rent or buy a house. One girl’s mother had moved to the factory when she was 15 – her daughter’s age – and had been there ever since. The mother desperately wanted a different future for her daughter, but her options were very limited.

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One of the families that work and live in a brick factory. The girl in the middle is part of the Smart Kids program, which enables her to go to school.

This is where Smart Kids comes in. The program helps break these vicious cycles of poverty by supporting one child from each family by providing education-related expenses like uniforms, school supplies, and a bicycle to commute between home and school. The program also covers Cambodian school costs and English classes.  An education, and especially English lessons, is a ticket out of the difficult situations many of these children endure. The children work hard, often going to school in the morning, then to work in the afternoons, and take English classes in the evening.

At the time of the visit 23 children were enrolled in the program. Upon our return, we decided that CEF would help others have the opportunity, and are delighted to say that we are now supporting an additional 11 children to go to school through the Smart Kids program.

The new group of Smart Kids supported by Compassionate Eye Foundation.

To learn more about the program and some of the children we met on our visit, hop over to our partner K.I.D.S.’ blog here or check out this great video by K.I.D.S. that follows one of the students we met, Pisu, as he goes about his day from the brick factory to school and back.

A Day In The Life Of Pisu from KIDS on Vimeo.

This video is about Pisu

Photo of the Week: World Water Day

Friday, March 20th, 2015

Mia Wesley, Social Media Coordinator

Did you know that more than one billion people around the world lack access to clean water? This Sunday, March 22nd, is World Water Day and in recognition of this day we’d like to share a photograph from one of our clean water projects in Cambodia taken by Vancouver based photographer, Steven Ericco. The newly developed wells funded by the Compassionate Eye Foundation benefits students as well as the residents of the Kauk Chrey and Mook Pen communities of rural Cambodia. With these projects we hope to not only improve the access to clean water but to also advocate healthier and brighter futures to the individuals within these rural communities. Clean water projects are one of the most fundamentally important projects organized by the Compassionate Eye Foundation, therefore the promotion of this day is very close to our hearts.


Dan Rogers: Hope in Cambodia

Wednesday, February 4th, 2015

Dan Rogers, Board Chair

Several Compassionate Eye Foundation board members and a photographer spent late December and early January traveling in Cambodia, the site of many of our health and education projects. Dan Rogers, board chair, shares his thoughts on the journey:

One of the great joys of being on the Board of Directors of Compassionate Eye Foundation is having the opportunity to travel to other countries and see how projects we have funded are making a difference. This year’s trip was to Cambodia.









Cambodia is a complicated country. Thirty years of war, bombings, and a horrific genocide have had a terrible impact on the country and the people who live there. In some ways, Cambodia is in recovery mode and in other ways it is still struggling. It’s hard to not become aware of the large scale corruption and inequity in the country when looking at projects and programs to potentially fund. The government is filled with millionaires and billionaires while most people can’t afford basic health care and students pay 25 cents a day to go to school because the administrative staff and teachers are so poorly paid (an average $80-$100 a month). However, good news exists in the hard work and generosity of many ordinary Khmer, and the work being done by so many organizations like Kids International Development Society (KIDS), supported by groups like Compassionate Eye.

If you only go to Siem Reap in Cambodia (and many visitors do, simply to stay in a foreign owned hotel and visit Angkor Wat) it is a bit like going to Las Vegas to understand America. The surface of Siem Reap is not real but right below the surface it’s all there: the poverty and lack of any social safety net except for what NGOs provide; the children selling t-shirts or working in rice fields instead of going to school.

But there are great stories to share and there are the smiles of people who seemingly have little reason to. The kids who go to school love it! It is an escape from the toil of planting a rice field or working in the brutal brick yards. It is a chance for students to learn, do art, sing, and maybe a chance to change their future. Literacy is so important to making a better life and getting a better job, which in turn enables an individual to help a sister or nephew, and so on.

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One day we visited children in a program called Smart Kids, funded by KIDS. These children receive uniforms and bicycles so they can travel the 13 kilometres to high school each day. One girl we spoke with lived with her disabled father and her three younger siblings (her mother had died) in a shack on the side of the road. Another lived with her mother in the corner of a brick factory. This program enables these children and gives them a chance. We hope to help KIDS expand this program.

As its name implies, KIDS focuses on kids. We met so many wonderful children in schools and got to know a group at a girls’ home. Such lovely kids with often very difficult backgrounds, but now with a lot of hope because they are in a safe place and go to school. And there are tens and hundreds and thousands more that need the same chance. Groups like KIDS are giving some that chance. Compassionate Eye Foundation is proud to support them–and as a Compassionate Eye supporter, you should be proud too!

You can view more photos from the journey on Facebook or by following us on Instagram!

Photo of the Week: More from Cambodia!

Thursday, January 22nd, 2015

In Hye Lee, Social Media Coordinator

Take a look at more photos from our board members’ recent trip to Cambodia! Lakena, pictured here, is a grade 8 student in Kompong Khleang, where CEF is providing clean water to the community in collaboration with Kids International Development Society (K.I.D.S.). Stay tuned for more from our Cambodia trip!

Photo of the Week: Pool Party

Thursday, January 15th, 2015

Krystele Chavez, Social Media Coordinator

The month of January always leaves us in the North Hemisphere trying to stay warm in our thick coats. A great way to beat the cold is by reminiscing about summer fun, as shown in this week’s chosen image taken by Steven Errico. Steven has volunteered his world-class talent to CEF for 8 of CEF’s 9 years, and also accompanied our CEF board members on their recent trip to Cambodia. See more of his extraordinary work on the Getty Images Collection – we’re sure you’ll find many images you could use!


Photo of the Week: CEF in Cambodia

Thursday, January 8th, 2015

Krystele Chavez, Social Media Coordinator

Compassionate Eye Foundation board members Leah Lockhart, Communications Chair, Sue DickProjects Chair, Dan Rogers, Board Chair, and Michael Glogowsky, Board Member on Projects, are currently in Cambodia to see firsthand the positive changes that are occurring thanks to your continued support. This photograph, which was taken by Leah Lockhart at the Kompong Khleang School, shows the older students putting on a short play explaining the importance of clean water for the visiting CEF and Kids International Development Society members. We hope you continue to stay updated with our board members’ trip via Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram!

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Photo of the Week: Kompong Khleang, Cambodia

Saturday, November 22nd, 2014

Leah Yee, Social Media Manager

In addition to the recent announcement of the Clean Drinking Water project in the Kompong Khleang village in Cambodia, we would like to share this photo of the region where the families are living. The new water system, built with CEF funding by Kids International Development Society (K.I.D.S) will bring clean water to hundreds of children and their families.

Kompong Khleang village

New Project: Kompong Khleang, Cambodia

Sunday, November 16th, 2014

In Hye Lee, Social Media Coordinator

Logo KIDSIn addition to the Sarsadam High School Project, Compassionate Eye Foundation is collaborating with Kids International Development Society (K.I.D.S.) on another project in Cambodia, this time in Kompong Khleang.

Through this project, K.I.D.S. aims to provide an elementary school of approximately 350 students and its community with a clean drinking water system. The current well is of poor water quality and lacks the capacity to provide enough water for drinking and hygiene. The new system will benefit a community of approximately 1,000 people.

This project is expected to be completed in March 2015 and will improve the community’s health and allow the children to focus more time on their education. We look forward to future updates from this exciting new project!

New Project: Sarsadam High School, Cambodia

Saturday, November 1st, 2014

In Hye Lee, Social Media Coordinator

Logo KIDSCompassionate Eye Foundation’s success is, in large part, made possible by our collaboration with organizations like Kids International Development Society (K.I.D.S.). In the past, CEF has worked with K.I.D.S. on various projects in Cambodia to provide communities with clean water, solar powered lights for schools, and a mobile health clinic.

For their latest project, K.I.D.S. again focuses on expanding educational opportunities in Cambodia, specifically the education of girls at Sarsadam High School. This project will build a private women’s washroom for approximately 600 female high school students and their teachers. Presently there are only four squat toilets for the school population of about 1000 students and  there are no private sinks or hygienic cleaning areas. The new washroom will provide students and teachers with more privacy by building squat toilets with cubicles and a wash area. By building this washroom, CEF and K.I.D.S. will improve the attendance and achievement levels of female students and improve the working environment for female teachers.

Sarsadam Elementary and High School

Sarsadam Elementary and High School

The project is expected to be completed in 2015 and will support CEF’s goals of helping to expand educational opportunities and basic health services in developing nations. We look forward to this collaboration and future collaborations with K.I.D.S.

Reflections from our Chair

Sunday, October 12th, 2014

Dan Rogers, Board Chair

As we near the end of 2014 we once again asked Dan Rogers to reflect on some of his recent experiences as the Compassionate Eye Foundation board chair:

One of my roles with Compassionate Eye Foundation is to prepare the deposits as we receive cheques in the mail. The deposit book for Canadian dollars is almost finished, so I took a quick look back to August of 2006 when the first deposit was recorded. As I started to flip forward, I was astonished by the people who are recorded in this ledger. Each name reflects someone who has been inspired to give to CEF over the years. It is one (and only one) record of our history of giving and compassion over the past 10 years, but it speaks volumes.

I emphasize “only one” because CEF doesn’t ask for donations in line with the traditional fundraising paradigm. We are different in our fundraising model because we almost exclusively generate “new” revenue. We get donations because people are inspired to give them and we are always grateful. But I’m certain that there are just as many people who have contributed to CEF through time and energy as those that have donated money.

I experienced a great example of that on September 13 when the wonderful photographic artists from Hero Images in Calgary descended on the fabulous office space donated for the day by our own Board member Ryan Bragg. Six board members visited during the day to watch the wizardry spun by these talented and fun loving folks. Hero Images had set aside a full day from their busy schedule to help out CEF and this was all made possible with the expert assistance of Amy Jones, our local producer who just makes magic happen. We on the board talked to the models, the makeup artists, and the assistants about CEF. They wanted to talk about where the money goes and what projects we support; everyone appeared to have a great time.

Later that weekend, several board members firmed up plans to visit one of our great partners, Kids International, in Cambodia in January of 2015. Board members pay their own way to go on these trips, but the reward is incredible. It reinforces why we do what we do and allows us to talk to others about the work that CEF funds, and to tell the story of the connection between the deposit book and the fabulously intricate shoots that are produced across the world.

CEF is both complicated and simple. There are a lot of moving pieces that I (and others) try to keep track of. But really CEF is just about compassion and giving and helping to make lives better in parts of the world where “better” is so modest for some but so huge for others. I love that so many people believe in that simple vision.