Sunday, August 29, 2010
The Lighthouse Orphanage
This orphanage is based in Phnom Penh and cares for 108 abandoned children between the ages of 3 and 18. Like most others, it does not receive any form of funding from official bodies, and currently the only support comes from donation by locals and tourists.
Girls Bathroom-they handwash and hang out their own clothes
The donations of money and food is barely enough to keep the orphanage running. Education plays an important role in their lives and all the kids have english and computer lessons in two basic classrooms on the property. They also attend a local school which is free, but they need to buy school uniforms, books, pencils etc.
We knew the orphanage needed rice, the base of every Cambodian meal, so on our first visit we stopped by the rice shop to buy 3 huge 50kg bags.
We arrived at lunchtime and after seeing their lunch menu, (plain rice and watery 'soup' with a few greens swimming around) on the next visit we went to the local markets first and brought big bags of meat, fish and veges, much to their joy.
Mr Lee, the director, gave us a tour of the grounds, classrooms and kids rooms. The first thing that struck me was the fact that many of the kids were sleeping (3 to a bed) on filthy disintegrating foam or no mattress at all-just a thin plastic mat on hard timber. Forget sheets.
After a chat with Mr Lee about the other much needed items, we agreed that the funds were best spent on new mattresses. So the next day, off we went with our trusty Tuk tuk driver, and after wild goose chases, rivers of sweat and price bartering we succeeded. The kids were ecstatic.
On our first visit we presented the children with the colourful wall hanging created by the kids at the Peregian Kindergarten, as well as the coloured pencils from the kindy families. We explained to a sea of brown smiling faces how the Aussie kids across the ocean cared about them and wanted to give them something special.
We had fun hanging out and playing, reading stories we brought with us and talking with the children, gaining insights to their lives, worlds apart from our children at home.
Below, Map reads me a story.
They drew some beautiful colour pictures with sweet little messages for us to take home to the kindy kids at Peregian to say thanks. Needless to say, our hearts were brimming (let alone our eyes)
One of the resident dogs had recently birthed a huge litter of cute puppies, who receive lots of hugs and nurturing from the kids.