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  1. #1
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    Volunteering at a Phnom Penh Orphanage

    Im March 2008, I spent a month travelling around Cambodia. I spent a week volunteering in an Orphanage in Phnom Penh called, the 'Centre for Children's Happiness.'

    The Centre for Children's Happiness (CCH) was started in October 2002. It provides a home and education to 140 children. The children are either orphans or belong to parents who cannot take care of them due to illness or disability. Most of the children previously worked as garbage pickers at the Steung Mean Chey landfill in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. I also had a chance to visit the Steung Mean Chey landfill, to see where most of the children came from. It was an experience I'll never forget. Part of my journal that I wrote in after I visited the site:

    The first thing I noticed as we got near the site, was all the garbage trucks, and then the smell. The smell was putrid, and my driver stopped near the dump site to see if we were at the right place. I will never forget being attacked by swarms of flies, as I was sitting by myself next to the 100 acre dump site. Nearly 2,000 people - 600 children, live and work at the dumpsite. I could see shacks in the distance where the people live - literally on top of the garbage.

    Kids, and adults pick garbage to exchange for money. They make a little over a dollar a day.. This is as poor as Cambodia can get.

    Ms. Osanai MIEKO, JHP President, is a founder of CCH, along with Mr. Mech Sokha, the current CCH Director. Ms. Mieko is also God Mother of Mech Sokha, and is a grandmother of Hope and Compassion to all CCH children. She has supported Sokha in the past to receive good quality English training and to sponsor him to study about Rural Social Leadership in the Philippines and to receive a degree in construction engineering in Phnom Penh.

    Sokha is himself an orphan. He was the sole survivor in his family of the Khmer Rouge genocide of 1975 to 197. I had a chance encounter meeting with him one day as I was leaving the orphanage. He is a very busy man, so it was really great to put the name to the face - and meet the inspiration.

    The guesthouse that I stayed in told me about this specific orphanage. One of the guys that works there offered to take me and a friend to the Centre by tuk tuk. He said that we would stop at a market to pick up some food items and school supplies that we wanted to bring for the children.

    The traffic and views on the way were pretty eye opening.
    Funny thing about Cambodia is you will see an old scummy building, next to a brand new highrise. Here is one of the older run down buildings.




    The traffic was pretty insane for the most part. Notice only the first person on the bike is wearing a helmet.


    I took a video from the back of the tuk tuk. Not the best quality..wind sounds along. You can get an idea of the traffic.




    The kids were so glad to see us when we arrived. They were very talented, and decided to give us a show of Khmer style dance. I couldn't believe how talented they were.







    At the end, all of the children got on stage, and sung cute songs.
    Here they all are. I was trying not to cry.





    I made a video of quite a few of the dances if anyone is interested in seeing them.

    The Coconut Khmer Dance was one of my favorites. They use real coconuts.



    Here is the gun dance where the boys make guns out of bamboo.
    This is really good. The girls and the boys dance together.




    After the dance, we went out side where they have a small area to play in. There is a swing there, with a volleyball net. They really wanted to pose for the camera.

    The girls


    That's me in the back in the green. Someone chopped my head off.
    The lady on the left of me, is like the Gran of the group. She takes care of them so well. While I was there, they were getting a head lice check.


    The guy on the left is rung. He was our tuk tuk driver. He was a really nice guy to take us here, and show us the place. My friend Jon in the green. The little boy in red is the youngest child at the orphanage.



    Jon decided to get them to play soccer (football). It was fun to watch. I took a video of the event.


  2. #2
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    I know what you mean.

    Your lovely story reminded me in a small way of the local school in my wifes village, in Issarn.When you pay a visit, or help the school in some way, the children are falling over themselves to put on a show for you.
    Thanks for the memory.

  3. #3
    nid aur yw popeth melyn
    britmaveric's Avatar
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    Good on you mate!! Dunno thought about checking the orphanage out, but pretty depressing, so I gave it a pass.

  4. #4
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    good effort, and nice thread.

  5. #5
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    Well done PB, nice thread.

  6. #6
    Cacoethes scribendi
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    Nice thread phucketbound and some lovely pictures of the kids. I volunteer at a local school, every now and then. It's not an orphanage, but very rewarding just the same.

    I will try and put some pictures up of the next fundraising day.
    Last edited by Loombucket; 19-01-2009 at 04:33 AM. Reason: Now I'm forgetting stuff.

  7. #7
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    Thanks guys. I wanted to showcase the kids, and the actual center. If anyone is interested in visiting the center or sponsoring a child, then you can have a look at the center's website.

    CCH Homepage

    I also took pictures at the Steung Menchey dump site, that I'll try and post.

    Note*(I also realized that the quality that was originally fine when I downloaded my video, is gone on photobucket. If you double click at the top title, you will have an option of viewing it in high quality (bottom right). The video is much clearer to view in that way.)

  8. #8
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    thats a great post buddy when you give your time you get so much more back
    my 4 year son will hopefully never suffer like some of those kids have it makes me sick to think that around the world so many children could be liveing like that i try and do my little bit via Kiva.org
    regards and best wishes to you

  9. #9
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    Steung Mencheay Landfill

    Hi;
    I go out twice a week with friends from Boggie and Bacalls to give food to the needy people that work at the dump. There are only about 450 familes, ( 800 people or so) that live near or on the dump that work there. Many more work in the shops along the road to the dump where items are gone thru. There is no recycling plant in Cambodia and all items are then trucked to Vietnam.

    It is indeed drepressing but no more so than places in Afirca. What amazes me is each time we go out we are greeted with smiles from all.

    Cambodia is going thru changes and you should have placed a photograph of other more beautiful buildings than the one you choose. Althought there is poverty and things are not all rosy at least the goverment has a control over things unlike other places nearby

    Zenfolio | Richard Reitman Photography | Steung Meanchay Landfill
    Last edited by Phuketrichard; 21-01-2009 at 08:30 AM.
    "I hate to advocate drugs, alcohol or insanity, but they've always worked for me" HST

    View my pics

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    Thanks, expatudon. I know just what you mean. I wonder how the government can let families live like they are. There is so much corruption going on. Thanks for that Kiva website. Really awesome idea there.

    PhuketRichard,

    I really loved your pictures of the children, and the dump. Good for you for going to help out. It is wonderful to see the workthat Boggie and Bacalls is doing. I'd like to volunteer with them next time I'm in the area.

    There are many nice buildings in Phnom Penh. The french architecture is apparent, as is the huge boom of businesses with their skyscrapers.

    Unfortunately, it is the people with the money that are gaining, and the poor people that are not. Thanks for the comment. I'll do a thread soon on some of the nicer buildings of Cambodia.

  11. #11
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    I aqree that the rich get the $$ but that's the way it is world wide not just Cambodia. Much of the current construction has slowed way down due to the finacial downturn. Many of the large buildings and even whole cites ( Cambo City on the ourskirts) have nerely stoped as has the New Stock Market

    When u walk around Phnom Penh its great to see that the French left something beside the bakeries :-)

  12. #12
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    ^That surprises me that the construction has stopped. The place was just booming when I was there. Hammering every place I turned.

    Do you work at Boggie and Bacalls? How often do they go to the site? I visited a school that was next to the dump. The school had Thai and foreign teachers, and schooled the kids from the dump. Have you been?

  13. #13
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    nothing to do with Boggies now but we are setting up out own foundation that will be truly tranparent.

    We were going out twice a week and yes have been to the school many times.

    The korean economy has slowed more than the American and many buidling sites were Korean funded. They are still working but only enough so they dont look like they have stoped. At this reat the NEW cambo city willbe finihes baout the saame time that we colonize the moon.

    WE are now looking into going out to the proviences that are really poor and helping out

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