Your heritage determines the course of your life. And if that was in Cambodia, it does not look good for most. Whoever visits Siem Reap can not fail to notice that many children at the temples and in the city center try to benefit of the many tourists who want to see Ankor Wat. They sell postcards, bracelets and many other handmade items. This is how they try to boost the family income a little.
Do they not have to go to school? Of course their place is at school. But for many Cambodian children going to school is a dream. A dream that for most of them will never be fulfilled. In theory, the education is free, but in practice every pupil has to pay school fees: for copies, building maintenance, extra support for teachers. Although there has been some improvement in recent times, teachers' wages are still below par. Students also need to wear a uniform and buy their own school supplies. This is unaffordable for many of the poor families. An unskilled cleaner or maid today earns about $ 40 a month, working 7 days a week, from dusk till dawn. A construction worker who performs heavy work on building or roads can earn a little more, but often has very irregular work and therefore an uncertain income. You also need to know that in Cambodia a kg of rice would costs about $ 0.65, and this is the main ingredient of most of their food, then it is also clear that there is no money left to send their children to school.
The Veal Village school of SOID cares for 150 children from the nearby Veal village, a very poor slum between Siem Reap and the Ankor Wat temples. Education is free. The school is only a few km away from the temple complex. Tourism provides 90% of the available jobs, and for a large part of these jobs the English language is required. For the best jobs you even require a very good knowledge of the English language. That is why the Veal Village School spends most of their time on educating the English language.
SOID wants to give poor children of the Veal Village a chance to escape poverty. We hope that they will get a job in the many restaurants and hotels in Siem Reap due to the skills they learn in the Veal Village school (English, reading and writing, maths, working with a computer ...). In this way they will be able to build a more humane life for themselves and their families.
Thanks to the SOID eduction/training fund, we are funding highschool for talented students who had their start in the Veal Village School. The intention is that they can fulfill their dream of being a teacher, nurse or else. This way they can help their people and their country a bit further later on.
You can read more about this : Education Fund
The SOID board consists of 7 members:
In 2002 we visited Siem Reap for the first time to see the famous temples of Angkor Wat. They turned out to be very special and impressive. What also left an unforgettable impression on us is the terrible poverty and the miserable living conditions of a large part of the population. We saw people mutilated by land mines, beggars, children who were malnourished and poorly dressed and many other sad things. It was heartbreaking, certainly in comparison with the wealthy western tourists around.
We then went back to the Netherlands, Gertie decided to return to Sim Reap, not as a tourist, but to do something about the misery as a volunteer. A few years later we came through the Netherlands in contact with a Dutchman living in Siem Reap. Initially we were going to work with him at an orphanage in Phnom Penh, but that did not happen. Instead, when he visited Siem Reap in January 2008, he brought us in contact with Mr. Sok Vanna, the director of SOID.
We then educated English lessons at the SOID's school and provided financial support. From that moment on, we went back every year to do something for SOID. We have seen how SOID has developed and how the number of people helping SOID with financial support has increased. We want to make effort to preserve SOID for the interest of a large number of children in Cambodia. Besides the annual visits to SOID in Siem Reap, we keep ourselves busy in the Netherlands with contacting sponsors and we also try to interest new sponsors for SOID.
Jaak and Martine met the SOID organization in 2008. They had traveled to Cambodia this time to visit Ankor Wat. After a previous trip to Thailand, Laos and Myanmar, their love for South East Asia had only grown. Jaak works at UnifiedPost, an IT company. Martine is a teacher in a village school in Belgium. They were able to determine that they could make children very happy with toys that the Belgian children no longer played with, they also took a lot of toys with them on this trip. In addition to these toys, they had also held a collection of school supplies at their Belgian school. They wanted to give these school resources to a school that really needed it. Through a Dutch hotel owner they came into contact with Sok Vanna the director of the Veal Village School. And one thing led to another. Both Jaak & Martine lost their hearts to the project and the children when they saw the school. Mr Vanna was confident about it. Since then their involvement has increased and to this day they are doing everything they can to raise enough money to keep the project running. Jaak and Martine married in 1983 and do not have children themselves. Meanwhile these children take a big place in their hearts and they feel like foster parents to many Cambodian children.
My name is Kristien Verheyden. I live in Haacht and work in Leuven, Belgium. I came into contact with SOID through Jaak and Martine. Their enthusiasm is more than infectious. In the meantime I have been to Siem Reap twice. March 2012 and March 2013. That was twice an unforgettable experience. Not only because of the beautiful temples but also because of the children of SOID. Smiling faces, children who are grateful to go to school, a very enthusiastic director ... You actually have to travel to Cambodia to experience how that feels. After I helped a bit here and there on a flea market or a presentation in Belgium, I am now also a board member. Hopefully I can help to make SOID a success.
In June 2009 I was lucky enough to travel around South East Asia for some time. I immediately got to see the harsh reality of poverty and corruption. When I was in Siem Reap, I met a remarkable man, Mr. Sock Vanna. Vanna was once a monk, but he stopped doing so in order to respond to a much more important vocation. He founded SOID (Supporting the Orphan and Indigent People of Cambodia for Development). After my meeting with Vanna and the children, I left my comfortable group of tourists and started as a volunteer at SOID teaching English and working with the orphans. This experience changed me forever - you can say it made me adifferent person. I went back to Canada to think and raise money. I then decided to return to Cambodia and make it my home. I work with various aid organizations (NGOs) and also work as a teacher at an international school. On occasion I work with Mr. Vanna and I do my best to keep people who support him up to date with the progress that is being made. We have all discovered that what is so little for us can change the life of a child here in Cambodia forever. With a little help, time, energy, ideas and donations WE can provide HOPE to these forgotten children. I think it is a real honor to be part of the board of SOID and an opportunity to do something back by giving my love and support to the children and the dedicated staff of SOID. I have received a great amount of love and life lessons and I enjoy every moment of my life in Cambodia.
My name is Lisa and I feel honored to be a member of this great board. I am a teacher from the United Kingdom. There I educated 5- to 8-year-olds for 3 years, and then for a long time to 5 to 11-year-olds in an international school in Dubai. It is my passion to teach young children and I love working with children from all over the world, children from different cultures who live in very different circumstances than our western children. I met SOID in November 2013 and worked there as a volunteer for 6 weeks. Since the very beginning I knew that this would become a place that I would like to continue to support and visit. I was really impressed with what was done, despite the limited sponsorship. During these 6 weeks I mainly guided the teachers. I returned to SOID in April 2014 for 2 months. The intention was to finish what I had started at the end of 2013, in particular the adjustment of the didactic process mainly in the English lessons. I managed to raise money through friends, family and a few local schools and companies in the United Kingdom. With this I bought educational material such as a new digital program with which English could be applied, on the level of the 3 classes. In addition, I also bought books and games. SOID now has a very special place in my heart and I am really looking forward to return to the children and teachers who I call "friends"!
Mr. Vanna (1975) is a Cambodian and director of SOID who decided in 2006 to do something for the poorest people around Siem Reap. Like every Cambodian, he had been a monk for a while. During this period of reflection he had a very good teacher. This monk pointed out to him that you only become really happy when you do something for others. And he remembered that for sure. He decided to discard his plans to become a businessman and instead he would take care of the children of the "Veal Village". After all, figures showed that this was the poorest neighborhood in Siem Reap. Mr Vanna also has his own family. Together with his wife he raises his 3 sons.