It's encouraging to see that progress is being made in Cambodia at both of the project we are supporting. Wat Opot, the community of children with HIV or whose parents have died of AIDs, is working on sustainability - building fish farms, hydroponic gardens, even a small cafe for the locals...they are finding ways to be able to fend for themselves.
And, yet, at the same time, the children keep arriving. While I was there a little girl whose mother had died 7 days prior had arrived. She was alone, the only child of 5 siblings that had HIV. Her mother's family dropped her off there, keeping her brothers and sisters. Wayne, the founder of Wat Opot, is feeding over 75 children now, ranging from age 3 months to 17 years.
At Who Will, the children looked healthy and happy. Their English is improving greatly due to the influence of foreign English volunteers living amongst the kids. However, Who Will is desolate, and the kids have almost nothing. I saw no books, no art supplies, nothing for them to play with or do on the weekends when they are not in school. They need A LOT of support as this is a new community, with very few resources.
It was my great pleasure to spend a good deal of time with Samorn! Samorn is our first university sponsored student - studying nursing in Phnom Penh. As the oldest child of his family of 5 kids (parents have both died), Samorn knows very well that he is the example to the rest of his siblings. But not only that, Samorn is also the example for the whole Wat Opot community as the first one to go to University! Samorn is a natural leader, and knows he must be a role model to over 75 kids now. He is a pleasure to be with.
We just funded Samorn's brother, Samet's, law school education. Samet is a quite guy, a bit more reserved than Samorn, with a strong studying and work ethic.
After being on this trip, I feel really good about what we are doing. Samorn and Samet, the role models, are being funded by Sakka Foundation to go to University. Coming up in Fall of 2010, approximately 4 more children from Wat Opot have the chance to go to University. Sakka wants to help them as well.
Who Will needs a lot of support now, even in just BASIC necessities, clothes, food, water, school supplies, art supplies. The school we are building in conjunction with Cam Kids charity is going to happen, but progress is on "Cambodian time" - so slower than we all would like it. Therefore Sakka is considering how we can help them in the short term to get these kid