Visit to Rum Deng Village

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August 11th 2010
Published: August 11th 2010
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I have been sponsoring 7 year old Vuon for the past 2 years or so and after arranging to visit his village months before leaving Australia I have been really looking forward to the trip. I decided to sponsor a child after years of saying that I wanted to but always using the excuse that 'I cant afford it right now' well finally I realised that with that attitude I would never have the money so I just did it. Now two years after signing up and after several letters back and forth (translated from Khmer) I finally got to visit the village and meet Vuon and his family.

Vuon's village is called Rum Deng in the Commune of Tram Sarsar, District Srey Snam, Siem Reap Province (say that 3 times quickly). Plan staff member Tino picked me up from my hotel at 8am and together with the driver we made the 2 hour journey to Rum Deng, which happens to be the furtherest village that Plan work with.

Once off the highway the roads were pretty bad, with a lot of bumping and jumping going on, not to mention the occasional flooded sections. One of the reasons Plan works out in this area is because it is so isolated. Before Plan started work in 2007 there were no schools, medical centre's and few clean wells. Now with the help of sponsorship as well as many other funding sources the communities have several primary schools, one large high school, many wells with pumps and one very important medical centre. The medical centre is staffed only by nurses but in the 10 days of August this year they have delivered 12 babies already! These babies would other wise have been delivered in the villages in unsanitary conditions with a high risk of complications or infection.

After passing through many very poor villages and past countless rice fields we finally arrived in Rum Deng. All the neighborhood children were out to greet us and I recognised Vuon from his photos straight away. As we pulled up to the family hut his mother quickly tucked his shirt in and made him stand up straight.

Vuon's family are rice farmers and have 2 hectares of rice fields which is apparently large for this district. He has two younger brothers, one under 12 months old. The thing that struck me as I entered their hut (with the rest of the neighborhood following) was the complete lack of 'things'. Their hut is built on stilts and is one large wooden planked room with 1 bed and mosquito net, two other mats and some cooking pots and pans. Yes folks thats it! So for all those western kids who complain about not having the latest computer game or shiny new bike I would like for you to think about these children who dont even have a pair of shoes!

So I was invited to sit on the mat and served a fresh coconut (yum) whilst everyone gathered round. I had brought books, pens and balloons for the kids so I handed out the balloons and then Tino explained that we would ask the children to play some games in order to establish who got to have a notebook and pen. Really there was plenty for everyone but it was nice to make a game of it, interact with the children and have a good laugh.

After all the children had participated in some kind of game and received their notebook and pen Tino showed the whole group the folder I had made with pictures of Australia and a few bits and pieces. He explained that I was from Australia and demonstrated how a Kangaroo hops around, it was pretty funny. When he told them my name was Lisa, they were happy it was an easy name to remember and it turns out they have the name Lisa in khmer as well. In fact one of the little girls in the village was named Lisa, so there you go my boring name came in handy for something!

As the end of the visit neared I gave the family a gift of toothbrushes, toothpaste, shampoo etc and then had to say my goodbyes. It was a fabulous day and I definitely hope to visit again in the years to come in order to see the differences and improvements that Plan are constantly making.

On the way home we visited a couple of Plan schools and the medical centre. The high school is 15km from Vuon's village so any teenagers who wish to go to school make the 1hr journey on bicycle every day. That makes the 20 minute walk I did and complained about as a kid seem ridiculous!

Overall it was a fantastic opportunity to see where the sponsorship dollars are going. I know some people have the view that sponsorship funds get caught up in admin fees and never reach the community. Now I have seen what Plan is doing I can say that I wholeheartedly believe in the process and know however small, it is making a difference to the health and education of these villagers.

Sign up for child sponsorship now at

Additional photos below
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11th August 2010

aawww Lisa, that almost made me cry. The photos are beautiful...he is gorgeous. I'm so glad that you got to meet him and his family. Meeting you will be something he will remember for the rest of his life :-) xx
11th August 2010

Lisa... Fantasic ..... You are an inspiratation Lisa Maree Burge, when I grow up I want to be just like you. Miss you heaps Love Rel oooxxx
11th August 2010

Thanks for the comments
Hi guys, thanks everyone for your comments its fantastic to get feedback and know someone is reading, lol! Can I ask that you put your name on the comments tho because I have a few here that I don't know who they are from???? Thanks again, love Lisa xx
12th August 2010
Ok, I made it home safely and on time but it was a close call. Karma/ God/ Mother Earth above looked after me and I met a Chinese/ american family who did me a huge favour and got me onto a train in time to catch my flight. I am thrilled that your visit to the village was such a highlight, It sounds like you had a day that will stay with you forever. I am still jealous of you being in Cambodia. Just reading your blog brings it all back to me. Things like meanings of words- eg srey means girl. It is raining here but I am enjoying being warm and cosy inside. I had vegemite on multigrain toast for breakfast and i put the toilet paper down the bowl today- thrilling! All of our stuff from Chang mai is here so I will take it down to Lorelle next week. I WONDER WHERE YOU ARE TODAY. i HOPE THAT YOU ARE FINDING LOTS OF FUN TRAVEL BUDDIES. (Sorry, just looked up to see caps on you know how shit i am at these things). What is the American girl like? I will write a travel blog about China maybe tomorrow. China was such hard work. I really thought visiting the bigger cities would be a piece of cake but in general they have very little english skills. I had to get the staff at the Gh to write down instructions in chinese just to get from place to place. I don't think il be going back there alone any time soon. ok, sorry i keep writing about me. I know you won't have time to write me personally so il just keep up with you over FB but it would be great to skype sometime. Let me know if you wanna make a time so i can tell you all the crazy cina stories. take care and havefun. xxx
16th September 2010

Mia to Lisa
Hi Little Lisa, this blog was great to read, although i am a little behind i know, i promise to catch up one day soon!! It sounds interesting and gratifying and all that but most importantly, it makes me want to join you in the good work you do to impact upon other people's lives. i think this is a great thing you are doing for Vuon, but also for your peers who need some first hand info on what they have the power to achieve. Go on you girl, love ya, Mia xxx

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