Published: April 9th 2007April 9th 2007
NZ World Vision Dam
this damn was built with funds from NZ World Vision sponsors. The local kids came out to see us - what a great photo! I felt like Judy Bailey :)
Andrew: I've been sponsoring Barang Hang, 12 years old, for the past 3 years through the World Vision organisation. I've had his photo on my fridge throughout this time and updated it each year when a new one arrived and we had shared basic correspondence throughout the years (xmas card, Khymer year new card), so the chance to met him in person and visit his community was a pretty exciting time.
Since we first started organising our trip around South East Asia, planning to met up with Barang had always been on the agenda. I had spoken with a friend (Stumpie) who had meet up with his sponsored child and he said it was one of the best days on his trip - this was the same feeling for us. World Vision organise the whole day and have a program of activities and sights to see - we got picked up in the morning from our backpackers in the World Vision ute and were off to Samrong Tong province, one and a half hours west of Phnom Penh. Mrs Choun Soyorn was the staff member who looked after us for the day.
When we arrived at the Samrong
The whole family
Andrew, Jen, Mum, Dad, Barang and his brother - with their new gifts - school stationary and colouring pencils and of course a NZ Tip Top ball!
Tong World Vision office we met each of the staff who work there and we were given a small presentation by Choun about what the organisation does, each of the staff members roles and what they are doing to achieve their world vision goals.
World Vision target the poorer communities within Cambodia of which a number of villages in the Samrong Tong proviance have been identified.
It was really good to see how well organised and formalised their planning and reporting was - they had to show how they were achieving their goals and later in the day we got to see first hand the work they had done (building wells, educating villages on health & sanitation).
World Vision focus on a number of different areas within the community, such as
clean water (building water wells and rain water storage);
food (educating the community on farming techniques and providing resources to get started - we visited a fishing farm that they had started);
health - providing health clinics and health education - which included education on family planning - we discussed the current scenario they face of trying to teach couples that having a family with 7 kids
might not be the best idea. In the past having more kids meant the parents would more likely be looked after in their old age (no Super funds here) and of course a higher rate of child mortality
So… enough of the theory - on to the practical stuff….
First we visited a water well that had been built at a local village (a place containing about 6 houses) - see photo. Prior to the well being built they had to walk a number of km’s to get their water - often from a lake where the water is dirty.
During the entire day, as we were driving around, I noticed a number of these water wells throughout the province.
Next, we visited a fish farm run by a family for the village. World Vision help set up the farm and provide the first fish - the fish are sold at the market for the villages to earn money and some fish are kept for the village.
Just before lunch we headed back to the headquarters, where Barang, his mum, dad and brother were waiting. It was a pretty funny feeling meeting him for the first time
Water well with some locals and our World Vision guides.
- and of course he didn’t speak any English and I didn’t speak any Cambodian (except for the tourist ‘hello’ and ‘thank you’) - so our the World Vision interrupter was put to good use. Barang, as you would expect, was a typical 12 year old boy - wondering why so much of a fuss was being made about him - and pretty shy - so after a couple of minutes I realized this - and mum took over the lead role for talking. Mum was great. She absolutely loved us and couldn’t stop holding Jens hand and stroking her arm - Cambodians, like most Asian countries, think that white coloured skin is more attractive than dark - she said Jen was beautiful about 10 times!
We all headed out for lunch at a local restaurant -the kids said that the food was better than they have at weddings! The meal and drinks for 9 of us (which was very nice) cost USD$30.
Thinking of how to break the ice after lunch i.e. not having formal conversation through an interrupter, I pulled out a Cambodian style hackie-sack, and we all started playing. After, I also showed them my
Fish pond - feeding time
Local feeding the fish with bugs from a dirt mound. The cost of developing the fish pond and buying the first fish was provided by World Vision - aswell as education about good fish farming techniques
camera, which I had learnt from traveling that kids love to see their faces on the camera and are awestruck by the video function.
Before it was time for them to go I handed over the presents I had bought them - careful not to target Barang, we bought school stationary and toys that could be shared throughout his entire family (3 boys, 3 girls) - they absolutely loved the items. Its funny that afew stationary items and colouring in pens can bring such a big smile to children - it certainly shows the difference in life styles. So, after some final photos, Barang and his family were off on the motorbike back to their village.
Jen and I were shown round another couple of places, including a dam - the funds for which were entirely provided by NZ sponsors - all the kids in the area are sponsored by NZers. Here all the local kids ran out to met us and started jumping off the dam wall into the river. This was a scene when I felt like Judy Bailey on one of her World Vision TV ads…. Jen and I were walking down a dirt road,
the children said this lunch was better than the food they get at weddings
the village elder on one side of us and the World Vision staff on the other, with a group of about 20 children running, smiling and jumping behind us….a pretty good time.
One of the things that this day reminded me was that my sponsorship and contribution of funds ($36 a month) is not to one boy and his family - the children are just the face of the village - the funds are used to benefit the entire community and everyone that lives within it.
After our final farewells and thanks to the staff, we were dropped back at our backpackers about 7pm - what an amazing day!
I have always said that the $36 which is withdrawn automatically from my account every month for World Vision is the best 'expense' I have during the month - I see my other transactions, food, clothes, beer, savings - and am always more than happy to see that $36 go out - this trip just proved it.
During my time in Phnom Penh I talked with a number of people about NGO's, the work they perform, the efficiency and effectiveness debate - I have no doubt that
Playing local hackie-sack
the Cambodian hackie-sack is a mix between a shuttle-cock and a plastic spring! most importantly it works great!
World Vision puts their money in the right place.
I met one Kiwi in Phnom Penh, who after spending time in Cambodia, seeing what this country has done through and meeting the people, is going to sponsor a child on his return to NZ. For those who are interested check out the web site: www.worldvision.co.nz
Some people are skeptical about the allocation of funds and the amount of expenses with NGO's - don't' be about World Vision - check out the figures on the website below- and they are independently audited by PricewaterhouseCoopers! - for those of you who know - I have worked for PwC over the past 4 years! www.worldvision.co.nz/aboutwvnz/where_your_money_goes.asp
There are more photos below