Field Visit: SEAPC Children's Home
TFish representative John Kieu visited the Kampong Cham Children's Home in Cambodia on June 4, 2016. He met the orphans in the current home and also saw the new dorms being constructed that we are helping to build.
Traveling Dirt Roads
On Saturday, June 4, 2016 Pastor Sinai and his associate led our team of 10 to the children's home in Kampong Cham. We took Pastor Sinai's car and our van to get there. The home is about 80 kilometers from our headquarters, and the journey took about 90 minutes. We arrived at the destination at approximately 11 AM. The home is located in the rural areas of Kampong Cham province, outside of the city center. Once off the main highway, we had to take a dirt road to the site.
New Homes Under Construction
Pastor Sinai first led us to the site where the new homes are currently being constructed. There are to be 2 separate single-story buildings facing each other, each on one side of the property. One will be a boys dorm and the other a girls dorm. The building currently being constructed will be for the boys.
Construction began about 2 months before our visit date. The walls inside the buildings are made of bricks and the roof and ceiling are supported by metal reinforcements.
Each new building will have 2 restrooms built inside. However depending on need, there may be an extra 4 restrooms to be constructed on the outside, which have not been included in the estimated cost of the buildings.
The two dormitories are built on 1 hectare of land, purchased for $20,000. The purchased land was very inaccessible by vehicle, so a dirt road was built which cost $5,000.
The boys dormitory is expected to be finished and put to use by the end of July. The girls dormitory, which has not started construction, is estimated to be completed in 4 to 5 months. Once the new buildings are completed and the children have moved in, the original facility will be turned into a community center.
The ages of the children range from 4 to 18. Some are orphans, abandoned by the parents. Some are from extremely poor families who simply do not have the means to take care of them. There are currently 39 children living at the home, with boys slightly outnumbering girls. Most of the children have sponsors, but there are several that are still waiting to be sponsored. I met one particular boy who was very small in stature. I was shocked to find out that he is 18 years old. I thought he was 10 or 11 based on his physical make up.
The original children's home is certainly very old and run down in some parts. In particular, the building where the girls sleep is very small and congested. It is a two-story building, with the 2nd floor in beaten up shape. The wooden floorboards on the 2nd floor creaked when I walked on them. The 2nd floor consists of a large porch area and a single room. During the rainy season, water leaks uncontrollably, forcing the girls to have to stay on the 1st floor. The 1st and 2nd floor are accessed by a newly built metal stairwell that is supposedly a marked improvement over the old one.
As for the boys, they are currently living in an adjacent building. The boys dormitory is substantially roomier than the girls. Because it is a single story building, light is able to enter during the day and keeps the room well lit. There is also much better ventilation in this room than the girls' room. This building is newer than the other so it is in much better condition. That building used to be a church sanctuary where the local Christians met on Sundays. Once the boys moved in, church services have since been held in the courtyard under the roof of the girls building.
The home is a Christian one. The children have prayer/devotion time in the morning and at night before bedtime every day. They are taught to read the Bible and worship together. On a few days during each month, the children are even sent out into the community to evangelize and preach the Gospel to the locals. During the day, they go to nearby local Khmer schools where they attain their basic education. There is a full time staff of 6 who care for the children and provide them 3 meals a day.
The children's home in totality was built with the efforts and contributions of various Christian organizations. From the construction and maintenance of the main structures to the decorative artworks, many have come through and made an impact for the children of this community.
We stayed at the children's home for about 2 hours. We interacted with the kids by talking to them, playing with them, and praying for them. We sang worship songs and even taught them cute little dances. All in all it was a fantastic experience. I was so touched to see the lives of these kids having been changed by the dedicated efforts of the staff at the home as well as the many others who have helped. With continuing support, these children's future are brighter than before.
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