Our family is very proud of our niece, Eve. She graduated with a Masters of Education from Quinnipiac college last May. Since she did not have a teaching job lined up, she and a friend decided to travel. But, instead of just joy traveling, they made a difference. They worked at an AIDS orphanage in Cambodia. Below is her tale, in her own words, from four emails. I’ve left the misspellings, but remember that she only had 15 minutes or so on a PC to get these written and sent.
Here is her first email, in mid-January, 2008:
I am so sorry it took me so long to write. I am in heaven and would love to reside in Cambodia. Ok since I have been here tons has gone on. I came to Phnom Penh thinking I was going to spend 3 days. I am now on my third week. I am heavly involved in two orphanages. I have rasied close to one hundread dollars for one orphange. I went out with my Cambodia friends and bought 60 lbs of rice and dried fish. Its enough food for 2 months. It was amazing to bring it over and see how greatful all the children were. I have been teaching in both orphanages as well. The orphanage with all HIV/AIDS children has VERY little resources and support so the kids speak little English. I am finding it incrediable that I am still able to teach and they are picking up on many things. I have gone a couple times with a Cambodian friend who helps translate. Tommow I am bringing about 10 kids to my guest house to show traditional dancng to raise money. I have never felt so happy and in place in my life. I have become attached to every single child and I don't know if I can leave. I really have found my nitch. The kids here are unlike any kids I have ever come in contact with. I have also become close with the street kids who gfo around selling books. I teach mini lessons to them in the evening. The kids LOVE to learn. I feel like a part of the community. I am currently staying for free at my guest house because I am working there. The free accomadations means living like the Cambodians. A hose is used to shower. I have a little colony of bed bugs sleeping with me and Amanda and I share a wooden plank as a bed.
Yesterday I went with two Cambodian friends I work with to this island where all the local families go. I am seeing things tourists never see. I am just in love with EVERYTHING! I know this sounds crazy but i am contemplating extending my visa. The guy in charge of the orphanage said he would do it for me since I am volunteering there. He really wants me to stay and teach. Everything is wonderful. I miss you all and love to everyone!!! I will write again when I have a minute! XXX
ps sorry i did not proof read...i know gramma my spelling is awful!
Here is her second email a week later, asking close relatives for help.
I know I just wrote an update but I just met with the director and asked about field trips. The director was thrilled and said the kids barely ever make it out of the orphanage. I have raised enough money to buy a good amount of food, clothes and some activities. My next move is to take the kids on field trips. I would like to go once a week to a different place. I am volunteering at two orphanages, in all 53 kids. The field trips cost money. This is where you come in.
Just 6 months ago 25 children were sharing one packet of ramen noodles per meal; one bite per child. The children have come a long way and are now properally fed, medicated and clothed/
Now that I am here, I want to try to raise some funds from outside sources so these children can experience activities and trips outside the orphanage , If any of you are interested in donating or want more information please forward this e-mail to whomever. Any money donated will go directly to the trips and activities I have arranged.. I want to leave here knowing that others, like yourself, understand the struggles of this life and are prepared to help in any way possible. I have also been offered a teaching job. I am going tonight to co-teach with the manager of the orphanage. I am looking in to buying some teaching materials from this school to donate to the orphanage since the children with HIV/AIDS do not get proper schooling. Thanks so much for your support. If you are interested I will tell you how to wire money in to my account. Now I am here I am able to directly deal with the money I raise and spend it how I believe it should be spent! Love u all!
Then, a week later, she and her friend expanded the list of people they asked for help.
For those of you who do not know, I am currently in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. I stumbled across an orphanage a month ago and immediately fell in love. The orphanage was in a lot of trouble when I arrived. The children were barely surviving. I, along with a couple other people, are doing everything and anything to stabalize this orphanage. I wrote a little story about a very special man who devotes his entire life to the children. If you have already donated this will allow you to see where the money has gone. Your money has helped change the lives of 21 beautiful children. For those who would like to donate this story will inform you of the costs to keep the orphanage running. Thank you so much from all of our hearts! Pictures are soon to come!
Mr. Lee Sary, Tuk Tuk driver by night, superhero by day. He starts his morning at 5 am. Mr.Sary drives his Tuk Tuk to NOC (New Orphanage Center). He is greeted by two women, volunteers, who devote everyday and night to the orphanage. Mr. Sary, Mom and Nanny dress, feed, bathe, and medicate 21 children before they are off to school. At 6:30, Mr. Sary must take multiple trips in his Tuk Tuk to transport the children to school, where they attend school. Meanwhile Mom and Nanny prepare rice ($20, 55 kilos, for 3 days) necessary for the day. 21 blouses, trousers, and underwear must be washed in preparation for the next day. The three devoted souls are hard at work while the children are off learning. 11:00 rolls around and the children need to be picked up from school. A tank of gas($30/month) and an hour of transportation time later the children return to NOC. From 11 to 5pm travelers passing through are encouraged to stop by to play with the children. 5pm comes and the children sit down for dinner. Rice, dried fish ($), and sometimes vegetables($5/day) are served. The children, all infected with HIV/AIDS, must then receive their medication. The time, 7pm, Mr. Lee Sary must say goodbye. He is off to work for the night to earn money to support his family and the orphanage.In the little free time Mr.Sary has the electricity, ($30/month) water bill ($45/month)and rent ($160/month) are paid. Three dedicated strong individuals keep these children alive receiving no monetary compensation.
This is just one day in a set of many. Depending on the donations for the week, this story may vary but the volunteers remain the one constant. They see the light from within the children's eyes, soak in their laughs and absorb their vibrant spirits, this is their payment. Mr. Sary has many responsibilities and can sometimes feel overwhelmed. Rent, electricity and water are vital for the success of NOC and donations and the kindness of others provides that stability; one less concern for Mr. Sary. If you would like to help keep this organization going please contact me through email and I will inform you how.
The two raised almost $1,000 over about a month. Here is what they were able to accomplish.
First off, we would like to thank you for donating you time/money to this needy cause. Many things have happened thanks to your kindness and generosity. Your money has been used to support the orphanage for the last 7 weeks. Thankfully, there is help on the way; grants are being applied for and a new formation of staff and principles is being put together to save this orphanage. Listed below are just some of the things we have done.
The Essentials: For the last seven weeks, we have been providing food and healthy drinking water for the children, paying the electric, rent and other various utilities that make the orphanage run. While the government provides basic health care for the children all extra complications that come along with HIV are not covered. Your money has been also used to buy the medication that is considered a luxury for them on a normal basis.
Mekong River Field Trip: All 21 children were able to go out for the day on a boat tour of the Mekong River to Mekong Beach for a wonderful day with some new beach toys.
New Clothes: The children each received 2 brand new outfits including hair ties, jackets, socks, underwear, pants and dresses.
New Watches: The children are able to have their own watches, something that may seem small, but it has made a significant difference.
Washing Machine: A brand new washing machine was bought and installed with enough washing powder to last for a few months. This will free up a lot of time for the volunteer nanny and cook to do other things.
New Toys: Coloring materials, dolls, cars, electronic cars ect.
Artwork: The children, many of whom are excellent artists, were able to decorate the first level with Chinese New Years dragons. Paper and supplies were all through your donations.
Sewing Machine: A brand new sewing machine was bought for both the nannies and older children to learn to repair their torn items and to create new ones. Another way to self sustain the orphanage. In addition to this, multiple yards of fabric were bought to get the projects started.
Appreciation Gifts to Volunteers: As an appreciation to those who work the hardest at NOC but are purely volunteers, necklaces were bought to show the women that good deeds don't go unnoticed.
Pizza/Amusement Park Field Trip: All 21 children went out for pizza on the Riverside and then to the amusement park where they were able to ride roller coasters, Ferris wheels and jump in a bouncy castle for hours.
Tee Shirts: With the help of your money, we were able to design and produce 130 tee shirts with the children's artwork on them. Selling for 5 dollars, 100% of the proceeds have gone to the children.
And now, Eve's coming back to the US to look for a teaching job. She spent almost 3 months in Cambodia, raised about $1,000, and changed people’s lives.
All of us often forget how lucky we are to live the lifestyles we live. Wouldn’t it be great if everyone could use their blessings and make the kind of impact that Eve and her friend did?