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Wim en Gertie's report.

Posted: 8 februari 2011

Lachend meisje Sittard, Netherlands In January 2011 we paid a four-day visit to SOID's school and orphanage in Siem Reap. We think the visit was very successful and we would like to tell you more about what we achieved while we were there. We had a fair amount of donor money to spend and this was certainly very helpful.

On the first day of our visit, we had an extensive discussion with Mr.Vanna Sok, the director of SOID. He was clearly pleased to see us again. The school (130 children) and the orphanage (8 children) are doing fine. During the renovation of 2010, the school has been refurbished and the use of all available space has been optimised. The play-ground and the class-rooms are kept tidy, and the children are happy and disciplined

Prior to our visit we had sent Vanna an agenda and a list of actions to prepare for the meeting. This he had done so we could work efficiently within a limited time to sort out a number of things, including the following:

- For a while now, SOID’s board (of which we are members) has been considering the possibility of setting up sewing lessons for a number of the children of Veal Village School (VVS). Buying sewing machines in Siem Reap is not simple, but Vanna had received an offer of two good second hand machines from Phnom Penh, the capital. We decided to buy them and before we left they were delivered to SOID. An experienced sewing-woman will teach sewing lessons to SOID’s computer teacher (Ms Chandou) who will then teach the children (initially 6 girls). Meanwhile, sewing materials have also been bought.

- The original monthly food package that SOID gives to the families of the children of VVS has been reduced over time and now only rice is given. Just before we left for Cambodia, we received a special donation from a Dutch donor that has enabled us to temporarily increase the size of the food package. We discussed the best way of doing this with Vanna and we decided to include a kilogram of sugar and a kilogram of salt in the package as of January 2011. This will cost an extra 160 Euros per month. When the money from the donation has run out, we will see if and how we can continue with the sugar and the salt.

- The children that attend VVS are all from poor families, but there are various levels of poverty. The poorest children (about 10-12 in total) who do not receive breakfast at home will be given breakfast daily before school starts. In order to minimise tensions with other children, the breakfast will be served discreetly in the office/sewing room at VVS. The cost of providing breakfast is about 100 Euros per month.

- Since the autumn of 2010, a number of children at both the school and the orphanage have received computer lessons. We are convinced that this will be beneficial for those children who end up working in the tourist industry. Out of the 4 available laptops, 2 worked properly, 1 with limitations and 1 was out of order and beyond repair, so we decided to buy a new laptop in a computer shop in Siem Reap. We also bought a printer/copier for printing forms and sheets for use in the class-rooms, plus a DVD player and a monitor to play DVD’s for teaching English. And we bought an anti-mosquito lamp for the orphanage.

- In the school’s play-ground there are a few swings. However, these break down frequently (the chains break). In a play-ground with many small children, a swing should not be missing and so together with Vanna we went to a workshop just outside Siem Reap to buy a strong construction with three swings

- In the western world, the daily consumption of fruit is not unusual because it is considered healthy. The children that attend VVS don’t even eat fruit once a month, even though they would like it. During our visit, we handed out loads of fruit and snacks to the children who attended all morning and afternoon classes at the school.

- For the children of the orphanage we cooked lunch: pasta with home-made sauce, fried chicken, fruit and Belgian chocolate. Eating together was great fun and the children loved it. Thea Thay who is still growing, managed to eat four helpings of pasta!!

- On the day before we left Siem Reap, we took an ice-cream man to a poor section of Veal Village where the people don’t have much at all. All the children got an ice-cream (there were lots of them….) and quite a few of their mothers were not averse to having an ice-cream either. All of us had great fun.

- Thay Thea, the 17 year/ old boy from the orphanage, will be trained by a professional barber to become a barber himself. The training will take some 3 months and it will take place in the first half of 2011. After his training, Thay Thea will teach other children at VVS and perform hair cutting there too. He will also continue to attend school. It is expected that at the age of say 20, he can set up his own barbershop and start living on his own.

We hope to have given you a fair idea of the things we have spent time and money on during our visit to SOID. We have been able to arrange a number of other things as well, but we will not bother you with that. We are pleased to have been in Siem Reap and to have had an opportunity to do this.

Wim and Gertie

Children under a tree in the playground

Children under a tree at the playground

The new computer class

The new computer class

The chefs Wim and Gertie

The chefs Wim and Gertie

Eating pasta

And this is the result, a tasty pasta

Gertie and happy children

Gertie and happy children

Nice fruit

Nice fruit ...

Sewing class

The new sewing class

Icecream man

Icecream man at Veal Village

Visiting Veal Village (1)

Visiting Veal Village (1)

Visiting Veal Village (2)

Visiting Veal Village (2)

Visiting Veal Village (3)

Visiting Veal Village (3)

Visiting Veal Village (4)

Visiting Veal Village (4)

Visiting Veal Village (5)

Visiting Veal Village (5)