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Girls on a swing.

Visiting SOID (june 2010).

Posted: 15 august 2010

Visit 2010 Siem Reap, Cambodia. As we are loyal SOID-fans, we visited SOID in Siem Reap for the third time. We wanted to see how things were going in the orphanage and in the Veal Village School. Seeing the children, talking in person to the teachers, to Mr. Vanna and to Han, the caretaker, is a lot nicer than just sending mails and getting pictures...

We arrived the 17th of June. We were expected! Mr. Vanna arrived at the lodge at almost the same time. We immediately went to the orphanage where the children were waiting for us. They all seemed ok and happy to see us. It was the first time we met Taey Thea, the 14 year old boy who came to live in the orphanage in 2009. He is a very nice boy and very grateful because of the fact he can live there. He used to live with his father who remarried a woman who didn't take care of him. Sometimes he didn't get any food! When he had a problem with his navel, Mr. Vanna took him to hospital and now he is fine. Rachana, the youngest of the orphangirls, had burned her leg on a motorbike exhaust. It was already healing, but it must have been quite painful when it happened.

We had a lot of things with us for the school. This time, we didn't only bring toys. As a teacher, I (Martine) bought a lot of educational material to make the maths lessons more interesting and clear. These materials can't be found in Cambodia, so that weekend we had a special training for the teachers. I showed them how to work with all the little clocks, fake money etc. They were very interested and enthusiastic. On Monday, I worked in the 3 classes with these new materials. I also bought them individual whiteboards. I expected their knowledge of maths would be poor, but I was totally surprised. They obviously learned a lot at the school! They were very good at maths which pleased us a lot. They knew the tables of multiplication better then the children in Belgium!

As you know, there is also a little building at Veal Village School, which contains the pre-schoolclass - Mr. Vanna calls this "the monkeyroom". The brothers and sisters of students who are too young to be in class, draw on little boards or play together in this room. There were no real toys in this room. Knowing that there are not too many educational toys to buy in Cambodia, we brought some things from home: puzzles, boxes of little plastic bricks, memory games and so on. We looked for more in Siem Reap, but couldn't find that much. There are a couple of nice stores, but good toys are very expensive there. We spent some money in buying rubbery tiles to have a nicer floor in 'the monkeyroom", which they really liked. Unfortunately, it only covers a part of the floor...

We also had cash with us, earned by baking cakes and giving private lessons, and also the money I gathered in the two schools where I work (Huldenberg and Loonbeek). There were also people who know and trust us, who gave money for Soid. After visiting the orphanage and the school on the first day we were in Siem Reap, we bought a huge amount of rice: 140 bags (= 7000 kg). Every month, the children of the VVS can take a little bag of rice home, which is the reason the children are allowed to go to school. So, for Soid this food supply is very important. Now, SOID has enough rice to share for 7 months. We paid $4060 for this. (A lot of money!!!)

Visit 2010

Together with Mr. Vanna, we made a list of things Soid needed. There was not enough money to buy it all, but we could buy some! These were the things, beside the rice, that we paid for when we were there, that week:

  • 2 metal cabinets which can be locked to put the new toys and educational materials in.
  • repair of the orphanage fence
  • fruits and snacks for the children of the VVS
  • trip with tuk-tuks and boat-trip, picnic for orphans and some children of VVS
  • secondhand washing machine for the orphanage
  • little table to cook on (orphanage)
  • children's books in English/Khmer to set up a school library
  • dictionnary English/Khmer and Kmer/English for the VVS
  • 3 new magnetic whiteboards for the VVS
  • pizza-evening with the orphans, Han and Vanna's family

Visit 2010

When we saw the school, it was obvious that the buildings had to be renovated and repaired. The materials used for the VVS are not longlasting and there haven't been any repairs since March 2009, when the buildings were taken down from their old location, next to the temple, and rebuilt in the new location. One of the supporting beams of the youngest children's class was broken and had to be urgently replaced. It wasn't raining much in June, but with the coming rainy season in mind, we said the rooves had to be better. The little building (with the 'monkeyclass') still had a roof of leaves. We are pleased to tell you that, at this moment, the school is 'under construction'. The work is proceeding (the roof of the little building is now a tin roof,...) and will be finished in the middle of August. The money SOID needed for this renovation, came from a Dutch charity organisation, St Chatrien. We are very thankful for this generous gift. After 6 days we left Siem Reap happy. We had the feeling that - once again - we had made a difference for these children. You can't help every poor child in the world, but if everybody helps someone who needs to be helped, the world would be more beautiful, don't you think ?

Jaak and Martine Debois-De Keyser, Belgium

Learning the alphabet