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Happy Sundays

Q: So how do you get 70 Cambodians into 6 tuk tuks and a car….? A: Ask them if they want to go to church. That is what happened last Sunday when the church was privileged to be joined by these 70 or so inhabitants from one of the many slums here in Phnom Penh..

Only one tuk tuk but more to follow

Only one tuk tuk but more to follow

P1050140P1050147           ..and it was fun.Not sure how many would want to come the first tuk tuk arrived by itself and was full  in just 3 seconds. It left with 17 passengers…. Another 5 tuk tuks were ordered and the Pastor brought his car as well.

Breakfast before they go into church..!!

Breakfast before they go into church..!!

P1050153As a church we moved into a new, bigger building about a month ago and it was good to see it filling up so soon afterwards.P1050167

Om the way to Sunday School

On the way to Sunday School

The Sunday School was a lot busier than usual and I think organised chaos reigned, but the children had a lot of fun.P1050183 These people probably need a church in their own village but in the meantime it is a lot of fun having them with us on a Sunday morning and some of us continue the fellowship with them in the afternoon…..

Toothbrush and toothpaste donated and given out by a good friend out here Toothbrush and toothpaste donated by a good friend out here.

Homeward bound  Homeward bound

..don't drop the baby..!  Don’t drop the baby….!

Delivery service..and one around the corner. Taxi Tuk Tuk service…and one more around the corner !

 

 

Giving Rice, Shelter And Making Friends

So the village was flooded and help was needed. Well not so much help as basic needs – food and shelter. People did not have food to eat and many certainly didn’t have sufficient shelter….Can you believe that people do not have enough food to eat in this country and in this day and age ?

So for the last few Sundays a few of us have been visiting and giving rice to the hungry and tarpaulins for shelter to those who need them…which are many. The rice is bought from a supplier and put into 2kg bags ( nearly 500 bags have been given out ) .

Rice is weighed into 2 kg bags

Rice is weighed into 2 kg bags

Ten bags into a big bag

Ten bags into a big bag

Rice and tarpaulins are put into a tuk tuk

Rice and tarpaulins are put into a tuk tuk

It is then, like everything here, put into a tuk tuk, along with the tarpaulins for shelter, to be transported to the slum which is about two miles away. When we arrive we then put it all into boats to take it to those who need it. The first boat will give rice to those whose houses are flooded along the way. It probably takes about 10 minutes to get to the end of the flooding where we off load and then distribute the rest of the rice and tarpaulins.

Coming in to dock

Coming in to dock

It is nice to be welcomed but at the same time you realise what a sorry government this country has that would leave its people to starve and offer no help to these lovely people. But anyway that is why we are here….to give something back to those who are unable to help themselves.

The supplies given were nowhere near enough..we just didn’t have the money, but they did make a difference…and we had fun. We all made new friends and will go back again next weekend to give what we can and help where we can. It is becoming part of our weekly routine and something we all look forward to.

We named this lady Eve. She stood under a tree with a few branches and a few more leaves and joked   that this was her home....it was no joke.

We named this lady Eve. She stood under a tree with a few branches and a few more leaves and joked that this was her home….it was no joke.

Eager crowds gather for food and shelter

Eager crowds gather for food and shelter

..and they STILL keep smiling..

..and they STILL keep smiling..

Again it is with great thanks to a generous donation from someone back home on the Isle of Wight that has made most of this possible. They have enabled us to give rice, shelter …..and make a few friends along the way.

Had A Bad Day ?

…yes we all get them. But at the moment there are a few hundred people who live in one of the slums in the south of Phnom Penh who are having a lot of them due to the flooding in their “village”. It still continues to rain and there is no government aid, help or assistance for these people. They rely on the help of NGO’s and churches in their daily plight.

Have a look at the pictures as I think they speak for themselves. I find it hard to comprehend how much they are just accepting of the situation and are still able to smile through it all…

10 kilo's of rice for about £3.50. Cheap but still never enough to go round...

10 kilo’s of rice for about £3.50. Cheap but still never enough to go round…

P1030634The flooding is an opportunity for some to make money with their boat taxis and provide a much needed service to those who are literally stranded.P1030544P1030547P1030548P1030552P1030555P1030556P1030558P1030563P1030565P1030569

Look what I found..

Look what I found..

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This is as high as the water got.

This is as high as the water got.

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The water is very deep in places and children have to be so careful.....

The water is very deep in places and children have to be so careful…..

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The water is incredibly dirty and will carry all sorts of diseases and unwelcome inhabitants.

The water is incredibly dirty and will carry all sorts of diseases and unwelcome inhabitants.

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..but they still keep smiling!

..but they still keep smiling!

 

Weathering The Storm

£5.50 can make a tremendous amount of difference to peoples lives. As you can see from the pictures this house needs a bit of maintenance.P1030251  P1030253P1030252

It maybe does not look too bad but the holes let the water in when it rains, and the water goes straight on to the bed that is right next to the wall. With this slum house not having too much space there is nowhere to move the bed that the three occupants all use together.P1030258  P1030257

So using some of the money that has been given anonymously I felt that this was a good use of just over a fiver.In the space of just a few minutes the house was water tight and the occupants happy. Five minutes after leaving it started to rain so the tarpaulin was soon put to use. I just hope that they don’t do what others do who have been given this material to protect their homes…and that is sell it…….Don’t worry I will keep my eye on it.P1030261

Buster Goes To School

When I went home in June of this year I was given some money by some people/organisations to put to good use for those in need in Cambodia…of which there are many. Some of the money has specific requests and other monies donated don’t.P1010634

It has and is an absolute pleasure to be able to put this money to good use and it will take time before it is all spent. The first lot of money that was used has been put towards sending a young lad to school and was donated by the Kidszone of Castlehold Baptist Church. All schooling in Cambodia should be free but for even the poorest there can be fees and payments involved.

Buster is nine years old and has never been to school. He lives opposite to my house.

Home for Buster and his family Busters house..

P1010642His parents make a living by making concrete tiles,pipes and bases etc. They will start work at maybe 5.30 in the morning, sometimes earlier and will wok until maybe 6.00 in the evening or even later.P1010645The work is physical and hard, but they are tough ,yet gentle people. To mix the cement they do not have a mixer but do it all by hand. One big pile of sand,two bags of cement and six buckets of water from the pond nearby-I have watched and counted. Even in the cooler part of the day the temperature is in the 30’s,yet in speaking to them (through a translator) they never moan or begrudge the life they have.They are very content and happy people.

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This morning we went to the school to get him registered and to have a look around. He was able to start that afternoon.

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Buster will go to school five afternoons a week. As he has never been to school before not only can he not read or write,he can barley hold a pen. Hopefully this can be the beginning of a new life for him and the chance to make new friends.P1010625  P1010630P1010632  P1010623

To send Buster to a State school would have cost a lot less but the classes can hold up to 50 children and the standard of education is not as good. At his school there are no more than twenty in a class. The whole cost of a years schooling including books,pens and uniform ,at what is one of the better schools in Phnom Penh is about £150. Thank you again for your donation Kidszone and for giving one young lad a better chance in life. Oh, his name is not really Buster but Nou. Buster just sort of suits him..P1010650

Working Week

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This is my friend Sokunthea. She is 29 years old and her son Rah is just four years old. She collects rubbish for a living, not because she wants to but because she has to along with thousands of others in Phnom Penh. Sokunthea will get up at 7.00 in the morning and work until about 9.00 at night collecting what she can and then selling it on to be re-cycled i.e. plastic bottles, drink cans, cardboard etc. I met her once when I was on my way home from work and it was just beginning to rain, well pour actually, and of course the obvious was in front of me as she had nowhere to go but just sheltered until the rain had stopped-maybe an hour or two later. I bought her a raincoat- it was the least I could do. When she gets home she will then cook a meal for herself and her son. She will stop once during the day for lunch.P1010221P1010219

She has been doing this for the last four years; the first two with her husband before he left her and the last two by herself. Rah has not been well lately and had to spend time in hospital, another added cost they could have done without. As well as looking for rubbish Sokunthea will also search for food to see if there is anything she can find to eat to save having to pay for it.

Home sweet home. No electric,no running water and no toilet..

Home sweet home. No electric,no running water and no toilet..

P1010228      P1010230 She will earn about one and a quarter dollars a day ( .65p ), that is less than £5.00 a week and that will have to pay for food for the two of them, her rent and any other costs that may come up ( hospital fees etc ). Oh, and a working week is seven days long. There is no day of rest for many in this poverty stricken country.P1010233

Every Little Helps…..The Waitrose Way

With the money that was donated by Waitrose $100 was put towards sponsoring two children at a local school. Both children are already attending but their families are having difficulty supporting them due to their own finances being tight. Again it is an absolute pleasure to be able to help them and thank you again to Waitrose for making this possible.

The two children will be given some money each Monday and will collect it from our offices. The amount that they will both get will mean that they do not have to get this money from their parents and this will be sufficient to get them through school for another year. They will be given 5,000 reil a week, that is $1.25, which is about .70p a week…Now this may seem quite pitiful to those of us outside Cambodia but it makes a BIG difference to many who live and work here. It is not only the money that benefits them it is also knowing that others do care and want to help them.

Keo Sokvan Petra

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Keo Sokvan is 13 years old and is the youngest of four children. Her oldest sister is 29. Her father was a moto taxi driver until three years ago when he had an accident on his bike through no fault of his own.He had to have a metal pin implanted in his leg to help make it better. This should have been removed but they have been unable to pay for the operation so the rod is still in his leg and gives him much discomfort. Since then he has not been able to work and the only form of income they get is from his wife selling vegetables. She was able to get a loan of $50 from another NGO to help her with her business of which she pays back $2.5 a week. When Keo Sokvan grows up she wants to be a teacher.

Keo Sokvan's parents

Keo Sokvan’s parents

Her fathers scar from his moto accident

Her fathers scar from his moto accident

Elec Sundea

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Elec is 12 years old and attends the same school. He is the oldest of five children and his father works as a construction worker. One month ago there was a small gas explosion at their house in which his mother and two sisters were hurt. His mother needed hospital treatment as she suffered slight burns and the family had to sell their moto to raise the $250 needed to pay for her treatment. She now also works as a construction worker (many woman do out here) where the work is hard and physical but the payment poor. When Elec grows up he also wants to be a teacher.

Elecs mother

Elecs mother

Thank You Waitrose !

Before I came out to Cambodia to work I was working for Waitrose on the Isle of Wight. I have kept in touch with many of my former colleagues and Waitrose have been good enough to donate  £500 ($800) to put towards causes that I work with. Here is what I have put the money towards:

Plants for School

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This donation was greatly appreciated by the school staff and pupils alike. It may not seem such a big deal to buy a few plants but in a country where most things are expensive to most people they really make a difference to the school. The schools themselves do not have money for such luxuries and have to arrange their own “Gift Days” to raise funds.Such money raised would be spent on other necessary items so it was good to give the money and watch it blossom and bloom…

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 The school itself is just one of a number that our organisation work with-each one having different needs. The children here are between the ages of five and thirteen and are all from typical average Cambodian families.

Money for school paint

$400

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This was another luxury that the school could not afford. It may not seem too exiting again but it was desperately needed as most of the buildings had not been painted since 1996 when they were built. It had been planned to use some of the money from the “Gift Day” but as we were able to give the donation it meant that the “Gift Day” money could be used for other things such as hopefully getting the toilets fixed.

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The painting itself was done mostly by the children who were pleased to get out of the classroom and help.

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Money for powdered milk

$100

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It is an absolute pleasure to be able to help this lady and her family. The mother is HIV positive and gave birth to her youngest daughter five months ago. She does not want to breast fed her for fear of passing on the illness so she feeds her powdered milk instead. The only problem with that is that it costs just over $10 for one tin which will last just over one week. The problem is where to get the $10 from. The father left a long time ago and the only form of income she gets is when she goes out collecting rubbish and selling the cans, plastic bottles,cardboard etc that she can find. When she chooses to do this her other daughter is left at home to look after the baby-she is just seven years old and has to miss school to be the babysitter.

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By helping her out this way(we buy the powdered milk and give it to her ourselves as a lot of people here gamble,so she does not have the temptation to try and double her money) she now knows that she does not have to work and can stay at home with her family where she should be. It also means that her baby is getting the full amount of nutrients every day as before she would try and make the powdered milk last longer by using less each day. Our organisation also donate on a ad hoc basis so it can be provided for at least 15 weeks by which time the baby should be on solids and no longer need the powdered milk.DSCN2603

 Money for the sewing ladies

$100

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Part of our work involves us going to a small village project about an hour and a half drive into the countryside from Phnom Penh. This project includes a ladies sewing group where they make bags. The bags they had been making were very traditional and there wasn’t much variety and the whole project needed a bit of a boost. We have been able to give them new encouragement and have given them some new designs to make and have been trying to find new outlets in which to sell the bags. At present we sell them in a number of cafes in Phnom Penh and I will be bringing some home with me to sell when I come back in June for a five week break.

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 The $100 donation was a much needed boost to the funds. It enabled us to buy one new design and the necessary material and to help employ one new lady. There are now six ladies making the bags although it is still a bit hit and miss as to when they turn up to work as they are not too good at disciplining themselves sometimes. The more bags they sell the more money they make-the more money they make the more ladies we can employ.

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Money to sponsor some children at school

$100

This money will go towards helping one or two children go to school. Although all children should attend many don’t, either because their parents can’t afford to send them(they need to pay a fee for the tuition,books and uniform),or because they are out working to support their families.

I have asked the local school to find some children that need support and we will pay for them to be able to attend school. When this happens I will let you know!

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A New Loo

Sometimes it is easy to overlook the most obvious things. I had visited this family many times before I realised that they didn’t have a toilet.DSCN2056

They have lived in this house for over 20 years and their only means of convenience was the nearby bushes. As a Non Governmental Organisation (NGO) we were able to pay for a new toilet for them. With so many needs out here you have to look at the little things that can make a difference and not what you cannot do.The family consists of mother and father,three sons and two daughters. One daughter and one son have left home and the youngest daughter(who has just dropped out of school) and their two other sons still live at home. These two young men are both mentally disabled and need special care and attention-which they are only really able to get from their mother.The father is a recovering alcoholic and unwell and unable to workDSCN2605    DSCN2606

Now it certainly doesn’t look great but if you had not had a toilet in your house for over 20 years then I don’t think that you would mind too much about the outside appearance.  The house itself is built on stilts as it is near to the river which floods during the rainy season. When the last big floods happened in 2011 the house was flooded up to the first floor meaning all their possessions on the ground floor were under water for a number of weeks.DSCN2055

Their main source of income was when the father was able to ride his bike as a taxi around Phnom Penh. This had a puncture which we got fixed for him but soon after he got ill again and was unable to work.

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The Worst So Far

In my short time here in Cambodia I have seen a few things that I would not have seen in back home in England. Working in the slums here certainly opens your eyes as to how many people live and cope with life. The other day I visited the worst slum that I have seen so far. So what makes the worst slum? Surely when you have nothing, then you have nothing. It is not the small narrow roads or paths or the fact that this particular slum is very.. compact-there are a lot of people living in a small space. It is not the fact that it is maybe a bit more out of the way than most of the slums that we work with. It is the fact that it is in a graveyard. It is a Chinese graveyard and bodies were still being buried here until a few years ago.DSCN2534

Those living here are mostly Vietnamese and are somewhat marginalised by a lot of Cambodians.DSCN2535 When we visited the other day they said that many of them have lived here for 10 years at least and for the first two years they could not adapt to living in such a place as they were frightened by the spirits that lived there as well…They also spoke about how they just wanted to work, and earn some money and improve their lives (they couldn’t get much worse).DSCN2526DSCN2528

You come away from such places wondering what hope there is for these people-you really cannot see things changing for them but they just do not give up,they are amazingly optimistic and always pleased to see you. They will give you a seat and get you a drink and maybe something to eat. These people have such resolve when you think that many of us in the west would have just given up years ago-because we couldn’t cope..DSCN2534DSCN2532DSCN2533DSCN2530

I don’t know what the answer is to helping these people as they cannot help themselves and many others in this city will not help them. God only knows…DSCN2525