My Day with Lotus Outreach addressing Cambodia’s Sex Industry and Women’s Rights

On March 14, Alexis and I visited Lotus Outreach’s Non-Formal Education program. Bright and early we met up with Raksmey from Lotus Outreach. First, we attended a sewing training. This training is part of the non-formal education classes providing life skills, basic education, and small business training so that the girls have necessary skills to survive outside of the karaokes, massage parlors, and sex industry. These women are the most vulnerable group because some are illiterate and a large majority never completed higher than an elementary school education.

With Lotus Outreach Sewing Class

With Lotus Outreach Sewing Class

One of the sewing class trainees explained to me that she hopes to open a small business in her hometown someday. Another said she worked in a karaoke bar and found out about the training, so joined to have her own business one day. A third girl said she might not be able to work in a karaoke forever, so she needs more skills to prepare her for another job. I asked her why she worked in a karaoke and she said she could not find other work to support her child. The instructor’s assistant said before she was illiterate, but now she can do calculations, read, and write since she joined the NFE program.

Following the sewing class, we visited a non-formal education class at the housing accommodations of girls that work in a local “karaoke”. These karaokes serve as locations for men to enjoy the company of women with the option to gain more.

The challenge is that the families of these girls demand money and support so the girls not able to make enough money in traditional jobs have to take alternative forms of income generation that is quick and provides large sums – income generating activities such as selling their bodies. They often lack skills to gain more secure and higher wage jobs in places like the garment factories, so Lotus Outreach is providing the training and skills as well as job placement for girls in their NFE programs. Providing a sustainable and feasible alternative to the sex industry – a job that the girls can be proud of. Finally, we ended at another “karaoke” where Lotus Outreach provides Non-Formal Education and vocational training classes in beauty like hair, nails, and makeup for the girls to get out of the sex industry.

The trainer and trainees were busy practicing on each other – creating beautiful nail and hair designs. One of the trainees had barely received any formal education growing up, but now had skills that she could make a living for herself outside of the sex industry.  Soon after, the first customers began to arrive… and we knew it was time to leave. These young women were so inspiring to meet and hear their stories because despite their hardships, they still have hopes and dreams they are working to achieve. These young women live in such harsh conditions, but at the end of day still wake up to attend the basic education classes, to study, and to practice their vocational training to have another life.

with Non-Formal Education Class

with Non-Formal Education Class

After, Alexis and I visited recipients of the Lotus Pedals project. The recipients were 2 young girls who received a bike from the Lotus Pedals program.  Before they had the bikes, these girls would have to walk an hour just to get to school. Now the bikes cut the time in half, and they have more time to study in between school and work. Where do they work? The rubbish heaps nearby to earn extra income for the family. They pick things like plastic bottles and items that can be sold to recycling plants. The average income is $1.25USD per day picking rubbish.

The Louts Pedals project goal is to not only provide bicycles to young girls but to increase awareness about the importance of education for the family as a whole. Lotus Outreach works with families and the schools, before enrolling in the schools Lotus Outreach staff meets with parents to identify needs and challenges for the kids to get to school. Lotus Outreach also helps to decrease the gender gap between girls and boys.

Lotus Pedals recipients with bike

I asked one of the sister recipients what her favorite subject in school was and she said science because she loves the environment. The other said her favorite was social studies and Khmer traditional dancing class.  The father said he hoped for the future of his kids involved getting a good job and to stay in school as long as they could afford it.  I turned to the girls and asked what they wanted to be when they grew up – one said a primary school teacher and the other a doctor.

Case on Scholarships for Students – Breaking the Cycle of Poverty w/ CCEF

On March 21, Alexis and I visited Cambodian Children’s Education Fund scholarship recipients’ schools, and we had dinner with a recipient family of CCEF’s scholarship program. A quick note before I share about the site visit… since the Khmer Rouge, education in Cambodia is basically starting at square 1. The Khmer Rouge killed/wiped out anyone who was educated in order to destroy the social class system/rich vs. poor – they murdered an estimated 1/3 of the population. The country is now in a state of re-building its education system, educated citizens, and even re-teaching and preserving its cultural heritage (all of the former documents were destroyed by the Khmer Rouge party). The importance of education in a country where every highly educated citizen was murdered or fled the country is EXTREMELY vital and organizations are now working to ensure that children are able to COMPLETE their education since a large number of the population cannot afford for the kids to finish schooling much less afford books and uniforms. The children normally have to stop going to school in order to start working some at the age of 10 to provide additional income for the family. On to the site visit…

The first stop was New York International School in Siem Reap, Cambodia where 12 students are being sponsored by CCEF. Alexis and I were able to observe a class with some of the sponsored students and then meet with the staff and principal.  The school has grades kindergarten through 12th grade.  We asked what the difference is between the public and private schools and the staff explained: security, holding students accountable (for example when they are absent the school calls the parents), and number of students per teacher and class. The students were getting more 1-on-1 support and courses in both English and Khmer (the local language). Later in the day, we visited Sunrise Children’s Village where CCEF sponsors 10 students. This is an orphanage that takes not only children without parents but also children whose families who cannot afford to take care of them or provide education – “economic orphans”.

That night we had dinner with Somalin, the first scholarship recipient, and her family.  Somalin, received a full scholarship since she was 3 to attend private school, and now has amazing English skills. Her dad often stopped to ask her how to say a word. Her dad said that she is determined to do well, doing more homework than is required and studying more than necessary every night.  Somalin’s father is a tuktuk driver – a common form of transportation in Cambodia which barely provides sufficient income for an entire family. Because of her education, her father now learned English too, and they both teach the whole family at home. Her dad also stays up late to help her with homework and says sometimes he has to keep the dictionary out to be able to complete it with her when it is very difficult.

Somalin’s education has installed the importance of education in their family. She was the first to receive formal schooling, formal English, and math training. It was incredible and inspiring to meet the children who can afford to go to school now, receive an education, and contribute to breaking the cycle of poverty.

Alexis and I at dinner with Somalin and her family

We detonated a landmine: a tour of HALO Trust in Cambodia

As featured on GlobalGiving’s Blog:

landmine clearance in cambodia: a tour of the halo trust’s work

Posted by Alexis Nadin on April 4th, 2012

Gearing up for the field

This is a guest post by Jacqueline Lee, an InTheField Traveler with GlobalGiving with support by Alexis Nadin GlobalGiving Program Associate. Jacqueline is currently making her way across Southeast Asia. Jacqueline has lived all around the U.S., Central America, backpacked along Australia’s eastern coast while volunteering for the National Park Service, western Europe, and traveled around the world. You can also follow her via Twitter.

Today, across the world, governments, organizations, and individuals are commemorating International Mine Awareness Day. It is an important opportunity for victims of landmines to speak out, and for all of us to build awareness about the effects of landmines long after conflicts have ended. Here at GlobalGiving, we are proud to work with numerous organizations that are clearing minefields around the world, including The HALO Trust, an organization working to clear landmines in 13 countries around the world.

There are still hundreds of thousands of landmines in Cambodia; not only were they laid by the Khmer Rouge, a brutal regime that ruled Cambodia in the late 1970s, but also the Vietnamese army, in its efforts to contain Khmer Rouge forces, and later, the new Cambodian army. Since 1979, there have been more than 63,000 landmine casualties in the country.

My Visit to The HALO Trust

“Lifesticks”

Recently, my colleague, Alexis Nadin, and I had the chance to receive a real-life tour of a minefield being cleared by The HALO Trust’s field team in Cambodia. We visited a minefield that is part of the infamous K5, a large swath of densely-mined land stretching across 21 northern border districts in Cambodia.

On our way out to the field, Alexis and I were surprised by the number of yellow sticks we passed on the sides of the road. Stanislav Damjanovic, HALO’s Deputy Programme Manager in Cambodia, explained that each stick represents a destroyed landmine. I deemed them “life sticks,” what could have been tombstones are now indicators of lives that have been spared.

Cambodian Deminer

By the time we arrived at the site, HALO’s field team had already found 6 landmines that day. As we walked towards the makeshift field office, the local field officer signaled for us to wait for a blast. We were taken aback by the loud BOOM of a landmine being exploded by HALO’s expert field team in the distance. It was at that moment that Alexis and I looked at one another, thinking about what we had gotten ourselves into.

Alexis and I geared up, having received in-depth security and safety briefings, and then were off to experience a day in the life of a de-miner. We followed HALO’s staff as they navigated the field, weaving between yellow sticks, and being careful not to cross any red sticks, which signaled uncleared land.

Destroying a landmine…

Well-trained deminers, hired from local communities, were carefully scanning grids with specially-designed metal detectors. And as the afternoon sun beat down on us in our Kevlar vests and massive helmets, we began to truly appreciate the dedication and resilience of HALO’s team.

Stanislav asked Alexis and I if we would like to destroy one of the mines – so we had the opportunity of a lifetime to press the button that would prevent a future tragedy.  It was an intense thirty seconds waiting for the explosion… then BOOM, a loud jolt went off that shook even my camera while I was filming. This was a small mine – I could not imagine standing next to it when it accidentally goes off or even when coming across a larger tank mine.

Later in the day, we traveled to one of the many fields that The HALO Trust has not been able to clear due to funding limitations. We stood in the backyard of a small family home and looked out into a minefield. It was here that the true implications of HALO’s work sunk in. Although The HALO Trust has cleared over 17,350 acres and destroyed more than 245,700 landmines, the risk is still high in rural Cambodia.

Standing in the backyard of a family home looking out into a minefield…

Children still play and walk to school on paths that wind through uncleared minefields. Parents and grandparents still take daily risks, farming on land that has never been cleared.

Our day with HALO was incredible. The work they are doing on the ground in Cambodia is crucial to the continued development of the country. Having witnessed for myself the harmful impact of minefields first hand, I would like to invite you to help clear another landmine in Cambodia this Mine Awareness Day.Consider making a donation to HALO Trust’s project in Cambodia.

Check out GlobalGiving’s other mine clearance projects:

A Floating Village Adventure: Installing Solar Energy with Yejj

Sleeping in a hammock, staying in a floating village, solar electricity, floating pig farms, straw roofs, bucket showers, and squat toilets… this was my adventure with Yejj in Phat Sanday Cambodia.

What is Yejj? Yejj is providing an alternative energy source to floating villages that don’t have access to electricity or running water – in this case solar electricity. Yejj Solar’s goal is “to break the negative poverty cycle created by lack of access to modern energy services”.

Bright and early March 8 I departed with Daniel from Yejj to a floating village in Phat Sanday.  We met with Yejj staff Sovannara and Live&Learn Staff Daneath to install solar lighting to 10 families who have neither access to electricity nor running water.  We also would be training 2 entrepreneurs to begin selling the solar packs to these villages.
Here was my experience…

Why set up entrepreneurs?

By setting up local entrepreneurs, Yejj is creating a sustainable model for offering alternative energy in a work to earn system encouraging community investment… moving away from the aid dependency model where items are only given. With Yejj’s model, they hope to that starting at a subsidized price, eventually the solar packs will rise up to an unsubsidized market price increasing the villages’ livelihoods to have electricity but also economically.

To read more about the impact go to: GlobalGiving Site Visit Report

A change-agent in TB and HIV treatment for impoverished communities… a visit with Global Health Committee

Feb 29, 2012: I met with Dr. Sok Thim, co-founder and Executive Director, and Ung Prahors, Deputy Director, of Cambodian Health Committee in order to learn more about and visit the Khmer Soviet Friendship Hospital providing health care for impoverished communities affected by Tuburculosis and HIV for free, and visit the Maddox Chivan Children’s Center, a social and educational care center for children infected or affected by HIV/AIDs.

The day started with an introduction and background of Cambodian Health Committee and how it has developed into the now, Global Health Committee, in response to an expansion and replication of the successful local model of treatment and care. Dr. Sok Thim, co-founder, shared his inspiring story about surviving the  horrors of Khmer Rouge regime and the life-path that brought him to his experience and expertise in medical care via HIV treatment for impoverished communities (beginning in Cambodia-Thailand refugee camps with USAID). Through his experiences and developed expertise as well as Dr. Anne Goldfeld’s work as Senior Investigator at the Immune Disease Institute of Children’s Hospital Boston and a member of the Infectious Disease Division at Brigham & Women’s Hospital in Boston, together they created CHC. Even against all obstacles (such as refusal to mold program design and mission in order to fit bureaucratic demands) they persevered, and 10 years later earned the recognition they most deserved from local and international community. CHC’s model was so effective that its research has been published in the National Science Journal as well as is being replicated for Cambodia’s Ministry of Health. CHC has been asked to work with government hospitals and staff and is now focusing on improve quality of medical care through staff training.

In waiting play room with kids and families

I was able to meet several of the children who were being treated by Cambodian Health Committee, as well as their families. One woman was there because one child had HIV and the others did not – so the CHC made sure her and her baby were taken care of as well in order to accomodate for their long trek to get treatment for her child.  This waiting room was specifically a play room for kids waiting for treatment and care – full of toys, books, and tv!

CHC provided transportation for her to get to school and to the hospital. This was a major hope for Cambodian Health Committee to get more vehicles to safely transport their patients to receive treatment on a regular basis.


Gifts from the U.S.

We went up to the main CHC hospital office, and I was able to see the CAMELIA headquarters – a published research collaboration between US, French, and Cambodian clinicians and scientists. The office was an open space used for meetings and tracking HIV and TB cases all over the country on a giant, pin-board, wall map – with color coding to signify different types of medicine-immune cases. I learned that they also have field staff and social workers that go into the communities and work with patients once they can be returned to their homes. CHC believes that the best way to heal is under the least stressors and in their homes (as long as it is safe to go home for families) – as opposed to the traditional belief that patients should stay 100% in the hospital under observation.

with Cambodian Health Committee Staff and government staff

The staff I met explained that because of CHC they were able to provide care and treatment that they would not have been able to with the government program and budget. Cambodian Health Committee was able to fill the gaps and work synchronisticaly with the Cambodian Ministry of Health, supporting each other’s research, treatment, and care for their patients. Another staff member said that because of CHC support, they were able to revamp and improve facilities which were previously very old.

At the end, we visited the Maddox Chivan Children’s Center which provides active educational, medical and nutritional support for over 300 children from 179 families and provides lunch for approximately 130 children each day (source:Global Health Committee).

Kids playing soccer

Nap time

This was so cute, during the tour we came across nap time, it was adorable to see them all peacefully resting after a long day of school and play!

The MCCC playground and artwork done by Friends International beneficiaries! (Click here to read my post about FriendsInternational)

with Maddox Chivan Children’s Center kids

It was so wonderful and joyous – as soon as the kids heard the word picture, they came running and piling on top of each other to be in it. By the end of taking this shot we all were falling over and laughing so hard. The whole time the kids were coming up to me to say “Hello! What is your name?!”


with MCCC Staff and Kids – please note the angry birds picture in the middle. Kids love Angry Birds here!

It was a delightful and incredible day spent with the kids at MCCC as well as with the committed and driven staff at the hospital and Cambodian Health Committee office. On a personal note, it was difficult to witness people suffering through HIV and TB, but after seeing the care and research behind their treatment, and despite the patients’ difficulties, their strength and ability to smile and laugh still – was inspirational and soul-moving.

Some future goals for GHC that Dr. Sok and Prahors shared with me included (1) replication globally, (2) a 10-year program in human resource development medical training specifically for poor-family and communities care and support (this is to change the atmosphere with medical care in these communities to focus on staff attitude to create quality service), and (3) more vehicles to safely transport patients who have little to no way to go and receive care and treatment at the hospital.

A little side note – yes this is Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt with Global Health Committee head staff (including Dr. Anne Goldfeld). Angelina and Brad are supporters and funders of GHC programs as well as helped create the Maddox Chivan Children’s Center (named after their adopted son, Maddox, who is from Cambodia) and the upcoming Zara Children’s Center in Ethiopia (named after their adopted daughter Zara from Ethiopia). To learn more about Angelina’s participation click here.

To learn more about Global Health Committee: Click here.

Jacqueline
GlobalGiving InTheField Traveler | Texas

Jacqueline is an InTheField Traveler with GlobalGiving and is now making her way across Southeast Asia. Jacqueline has lived all around the U.S., Central America, backpacked along Australia’s eastern coast while volunteering for the National Park Service, western Europe, and traveled around the world. You can also follow her via Twitter.

For more information about GlobalGiving, click here

My Weekend in Kratie and Day with Cambodian Rural Development Team

Traveling by land, exploring the outskirts of Phnom Penh, 7 hours later I arrive in Kratie Province.  Last weekend, I explored a northern province of Cambodia and visited Cambodian Rural Development Team’s GlobalGiving Project to Provide renewable energy to 15 families in a rural village on Koh Pdao Island separated not only by income but also by rivers from society and the main markets.

Finally, Monday arrived and I was able to visit Cambodian Rural Development Team’s project…

My day began meeting Mr. Bin Dim, the project manager, in Sambor province and off we were to board a ferry to Koh Pdao Island. The villages that we were off to visit are on an island and the main source of income included the selling of animals and agriculture. When we arrived, the area was hot and dry. Cows and water buffalo roamed free and the pace of life was definitely a lot slower than just across the river. We arrived at the first beneficiary family’s home. It consisted of a widow and her 6 family members. 

One of the daughters welcomed us into their home, immediately recognizing and so happy to see Bin. Bin showed me the outside biodigester that they installed on behalf of the funding raised via GlobalGiving. This was one of 15 families that received them.  Then the daughter and Bin proceeded to show me how it worked and she explained how she used it.  I then asked her what she used before this gas resource – and she said batteries. Before, the family had to take the batteries into town across the river to pay to recharge them constantly. Also the family used wood to cook so had to go chop trees in the forest, using valuable time they could be spending on farming and helping out in community.  Cooking with wood also created a lot of smoke making the place dirty, she said. I also immediately thought that it probably was not good for their health either. Finally I asked her how the gas has benefited her family, and she replied that now when she needs to boil water or cook dinner all she needs to do is turn on the gas light the pilot and put the water or food on. It is so easy and now they have time to focus on work [income generating activities].

We went on to visit many other families all with the same explanations of how much the gas system has made things easier. I asked where they get the manure though if they don’t raise cattle or pigs, and they responded that they are able to collect extra from neighbors.  These communities I found out are extremely communal. They even decide what each family will grow or make based on the needs of the village during community meetings.  This is how CRDT works within the communities – speaking with the village leaders and villagers identifying needs and obstacles to their ability to focus on activities that will support income and raise the standard of living.

One other need CRDT recognized was for sanitation –due to no running water and electricity, organizations along with CRDT such as Oxfam have stepped in to provide fishing ponds, toilets, hygiene and health awareness campaigns and trainings, animal husbandry trainings, incinerators to get rid of “rubbish”, environmental education programs, and now looking into irrigation. Also, CRDT has started an ecotourism project that brings tourists to spend a few days within the village working and living alongside families in homestays. This is to promote income for the villages as well as cultural learning for both sides.

About the Biodigesters:

Who gets these biodigesters?  A lottery system was put into place to determine who in the villages received the first batch of biodigesters. One widow exclaimed after being chosen that she was “very lucky.”

How do they work? Biodigesters take manure and turn it into natural gas that can be used for cooking and electricity.

Why is this important? Families can spend less time destroying the local forest, and injuring their health inhaling smoke while cooking. Children can study at night due to electric lights from the gas system; the source of energy comes right from their own animals that they raise and use for food, income, and transportation.  The day and productivity no longer ends when the sun goes down and they have run out of batteries or candles. Time spent waiting for food to cook over wood fires is now spent doing other productive activities.

At the end, Bin Dim and I sat down to have a home cooked lunch of fried fish, banana chips, rice, and noodles with egg and vegetables. An older woman and husband in one of the homestay locations hosted us. They both had many questions for me such as where I come from, what life is like there, if people in US move out at 18 and are independent generally in adulthood… then who decides what your career is and decision making when get married? You decide for yourself I replied. And they were pleasantly surprised. Many other questions went on including how old are was I, and if I knew anyone in Georgia. They did not know Texas  – but Georgia they knew because they had heard of Cambodian families moving there. Finally, they wanted to know about the 9/11 disaster, terrorism, why USA was attacked, and then finally wanted to show me all of the gifts they received from their many international visitors – gifts from Australia and even… Idaho!

Before I left the husband stopped me to say – thank you. Thank you for supporting CRDT so that they can help the villages.

Breaking the cycle of poverty and preserving Cambodian arts -My day with Kasumisou Foundation

My day began bright and early with Juana – from Peru she is the local staff for the Family Support Program, Kasumisou Foundation. On 20 February 2012, over a breakfast of fruit, we discussed  a brief overview of her work and the day’s itinerary. I would be visiting several families benefitting from Kasumisou’s FSP program (those affected by HIV) and then visiting the Apsara Arts Prgoram where youth and orphans can learn traditional Cambodian dance, drawing, and music while not in school and during summers (instead of being on the streets).

The first family lived in a Buddhist Temple Pagoda that looked like this….

After the PolPot regime (Khmer Rouge) Buddhist temples began to welcome Cambodians without homes re-settling back into the city after being scattered among different provinces looking for their lost loved ones and for places to live. (Please Google the atrocities of the Khmer Rouge if you are not familiar.. I was able to visit the “Killing Fields” and the Tuol Sleng Museum, and will share photos in a later posting).

The first family consisted of a young boy, Pirron, affected by HIV and his grandmother who took care of him after his mother passed away due to the virus.  I asked her what her life was like before she was taken in by the Kasumisou foundation – she had been a beggar. Homeless and penniless she took in her grandson after his mother passed and was desperate because he was dying. At a local church they were introduced to Juana and  the Kasumisou foundation, and they were given a small stipend to pay for rent, for food, and education for the young boy. The conditions were she had to stop begging. When I met this family I would have NEVER imagine what they had gone through. She was proud of her grandson’s studies, smiling, and welcoming. I asked what hope she had for her grandson in the future, and she said for him to finish his studies and become a professional. He responded he hoped the same and loved working with electronics and electricity. His favorite subject was math. She now has a home, electricity (no running water yet), and with therapy the boy has lived to the age of 15. She now sells snacks and candy to the local community.

With Pirron, his grandmother, and FSP staff at their home

Now meet these two young girls who not only lost their mother due to HIV but have been constantly affected by it, and were adopted by their mother’s friend. One wanted to be a doctor “to help (listing everyone in her adopted family, the Kasumisou staff, and sponsorship family who is paying for her education) for free of charge” and the younger one followed with wanting to be a nurse “to help all of Cambodia”. One loved to read and the other draw. Her favorite thing to draw was.. Angry Birds! I was astonished and had to see her drawings- they were amazing. I told them how kids in the US also loved Angry Birds! At the end of the visit she gave me her prized angry bird and tom and jerry drawings. They practiced their english with me and showed me some of the dance and song they learned at the Apsara Arts program. These were two sweet and educated young girls with hopes and dreams. I asked Juana what was the likelihood of them receiving education to become doctors.. and she said the hope of Cambodia is for youth to graduate 6th grade, if possible 9th (14 years old). If they are very talented and have the funding then 12th. It is very difficult to attain vocational or university training here. That did not stop these girls from reaching for the stars.

Holding Smile’s Angry Birds Drawings

The final few families ingrained in me the strength of the human spirit. Sampao had been ostracized by her family when her husband died since she had HIV and was separated from her children. She was on her deathbed when Kasumso took her in and instead of accompanying her to die with dignity.. Juana was able to “accompany her to life”. When she never expected to live she now accompanies Juana home-visiting other families affected sharing experience and support. The next family was a mother and son both affected – all you could see was their joy and strength. The mother was able to work since she received therapy and he was a very naturally gifted artist – self taught drawing and painting with beautiful elaborate pictures of whatever he could get his hands on.  The final family’s mother had been blinded by the disease and was supporting her 2 young boys. Kasumisou provided her the opportunity to not have to turn to brothels to make money, but supporting her children through school and allowing her to focus on them.

Sharing fruit with mother and son during home-visit

How does it work? Kasumisou is no longer expanding but maintaining the current families. They support 110 orphans, 70 Family Support Prgoram families with 180 children,  4 in university and 3 in vocational school, and 9 orphans iving at the Apsara Arts Progaram. They provide food support, small stipend for rent/electricity/water, education, therapy whether it be for TB or HIV, and homevisit care- a holistic all-econompassing type of support to  break the cycle of poverty and provide opportunities for these youth otherwise without. The kids stay in the program for as long as they need. With hopes of focusing more on education for their children, their donor-focused funding is trying to find a way to become more sustainable.

The final leg of my site visit involved attending clases at the Apsara Arts Association.. a program for training youth whether oprpahned, poor or rich in traditional Cambodian culture. Kasumisou funds a summer program to allow their beneficiary children to spend their summers not in school learning Cambodian arts and not spend it in the streets. Kasumisou also donated the current training center.


Teaching Assistants performing (right is female dance and left is the male dance)


Please observe the 2nd child… the cutest 3 year old you have ever met

And I even was able to participate… I was dragged on stage even though I repeatedly oh-koon’d (thanked ) and declined but to no avail up I went…and then was guided with clear English 1,2,3’s throughout the entire dance…

Me attempting Cambodian Dance

It was wonderful to experience how those involved did not differentiate by age, race, or religion (some beneficiaries were Buddhist, some Christian, some “attended all temples to receive support and live long lives”) – it was about providing lives with dignity and breaking the cycles of poverty for future Cambodan generations. Although it is frustrating to see the common trend of constant dependency on dwindling donor support.. my hopes are that organizations find self-sustainability. Hopefully, these children will have the opportunity to attain all of their hopes and dreams… and even finish university.

About the staff I met: Juana’s background was in HIV family support in the US and for over a decade here. Sithen’s background is in accounting and business management supporting Kasumisou’s efforts with the Apsara Arts. Slim staff – but skilled, experienced, and dedicated. Sithen even went on to say if he ever has to take another job for some reason he would always be a supporter of and donate to Kasumisou.

To find out more about about Kasumisou Foundation click here. For more information on the Apsara Arts Association click here. The Apsara Arts Association hosts Traditional Cambodian performances on Saturday evenings.

 

Jacqueline
GlobalGiving InTheField Traveler | Texas

Jacqueline is an InTheField Traveler with GlobalGiving and is now making her way across Southeast Asia. Jacqueline has lived all around the U.S., Central America, backpacked along Australia’s eastern coast while volunteering for the National Park Service, western Europe, and traveled around the world. You can also follow her via Twitter.

For more information about GlobalGiving, click here