Follow our 2016 field trip in Cambodia!!

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Saturday 13 February 2016- Arrival to Khmer land

After over 24 hours of flying, we arrive at our final destination, Siem Reap, gate to the magnificent temples of Angkor and starting point of CAF field trip 2016! The travelling crew here in Cambodia is composed of 7 members, including CAF volunteers, sponsors and, this year also a professional photographer and video-maker, Alienor De Sas.

Sunday 14 February 2016- Siem Reap

We spend Sunday recovering from the jet-lag and organizing the logistics, as well as visiting some temples.

Monday 15 February 2016- Meeting CABDICO

On Monday we leave at 8am, ready to get to the field! The main focus of our trip in Siem Reap is working with our local partner CABDICO on launching the CAF Family Micro-Business programme (FMB) in Cambodia.We start with a workshop at CABDICO premises in the morning to review overall project methodology and initial applications, and brainstorming around possible programme improvements.

Monday is also a great introduction to our partners’ own programmes and an occasion to see them in action. In the afternoon, our partners from CABDICO invite us to accompany their work on home rehabilitation of handicapped children. We visit two children, both in a wheel chair and with speech and mobility problems. Thanks to the training by CABDICO’s staff- regularly tutoring them at home, they have been able to make great progress in controlling the movements of their hands and even with the writing.

 

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One of the children, aged 14, can even attend the normal school thanks to the support of CABDICO’s staff and his own strong determination.

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Finally, we also have the chance to see the access for disabled children that CABDICO has built in a nearby school.

 

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Tuesday 16 February- Family Micro-business in Cambodia becoming concrete…

Early morning start… time for a detailed review of the initial 3 micro-business projects presented by CABDICO: loads of questions and debate. Our CAF member Istvan enjoys creating a chart of potential revenues and costs for each project to clearly illustrate the viability of the proposed businesses: TV repair activity, pig and cow rearing… CABDICO seems excited about Family Micro Business, it is a great exchange for all of us!

In the afternoon, all our planning becomes very concrete… off to meet Mr. Sim Son Art and his family. He has thought his business through. We are convinced: this will become the first FMB project with our Cambodian partner, CABDICO!

Our first 2016 Family Micro-business project with CABDICO

Our first 2016 Family Micro-business project with CABDICO

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Wednesday 17 February 2016-M

On our Day 3 of work in Siem Reap, we met Mr. Rithy at the CABDICO office. He is the chair of a local Self Help Group (SHG) – Siem Reap Transport Service for People with disabilities. CABDICO helps creating SHGs like this to allow disabled people around Siem Reap to cooperate and help each other. Mr. Rithy is a very resourceful man and does a great job in presenting the cases of three SHG members, looking at initiating a “TUK-TUK”activity, tapping in to the busy Siem Reap tourism industry in order to better support their families and ensure the continuous education of their children.

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In the afternoon we met the 3 future TUK-TUK drivers at the house of Mr. Cheaung Chin, one of the applicants. The three men have all lost their right leg during the Cambodian civil war, stepping on a land-mine, and are currently complementing their incomes as moto-taxi drivers, with occasional construction work, very dangerous with their handicap, and clearly underpaid. They explained to us how becoming a TUK-TUK driver would allow them to significantly improve their monthly income and ensure their children’s education. Their motivation is high, their business model solid … CAF decides to try and raise the funds that could make their business plans come true!

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We also visit again Mr Sim Son Art and family to bring the good news that we will be able to support his training in repairing TVs and other electronic appliances.

Thursday 18 February 2016… On the road again

It is time to leave Siem Reap. Two members of the group return to Phnom Penh, while the rest of the team heads to Battambang, the second largest city of Cambodia and surrounded by a beautiful countryside.

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Friday 19 February 2016- a day of beautiful encounters…

Theresa and Miriam visit our local partner in Phnom Penh, “Le Restaurant des Enfants” (LRDE) for the first time. This is also the first time they meet the children they sponsor, Siha and Sreynoch.

The rest of the group makes some wonderful encounters while travelling in tuc-tuc in the area around Battambang.

We stop at a muslim fishermen’s village. A grandfather invite us to come to his house to meet her daughter and grand-daughter. And soon after the little house is filled with children…

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Later on, on our way to a temple, we meet Piseth. He was carrying some wood back home on his bycicle. He speaks English, and we find out that he had to stop attending his evening English courses 3 months ago. Two CAF volunteers decide to take Piseth and his mother to register the child for two years of English courses.

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Saturday 20th February 2016… Back to Phom Penh

While Theresa and Miriam take their flight back to Brussels, the rest of the group makes the trip from Battambang to Phnom Penh, stopping at the Vietnamese floating villange of Kompong Luong.

Sunday 21st and Monday 22nd February 2016… Chillling out and preparing our work in Phnom Penh

We spend Sunday and Monday (a Budhist holiday in Cambodia) relaxing in Phnom Penh and preparing for our meetings with Le Restaurant des Enfants and CABDICO. We also take the opportunity to do some shopping in the market in anticipation of a sale to be organised in Brussels for the benefit of CAF’s projects.

Tuesday 23rd February 2016- Meeting our partners in Phnom Penh

We visit Le Restaurant des Enfants (LRDE) in the morning. The purpose of the visit is to discuss with our partners and, more importantly, to meet the children that are being sponsored through CAF and monitor their development over the last six months. We meet two girls, Votey and Reaksmey. Reaksmey received from CAF volunteers a letter from her sponsor in Switzerland, Claudia. We also meet Sorita and Sokkhim, two girls that are following a cooking course with the support of CAF and doing a great job in helping out in the Restaurant.

We also meet CABDICO in the afternoon to finalise our discussion on the projects under the Family Micro-Business programme of CAF.

Finally, another unforgettable experience. Sorita and Sokkhim have met 3 months ago some children that work in the street collecting bottles, cartons and food and who live in the open with their families within the walls of a pagoda (Wat). They take us to meet those children and families.

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Wednesday 24th February- Le Restaurant des Enfants

We come back to the Restaurant (LRDE) to discuss with LRDE staff about their plans for the children of the families living in the pagoda and to do the monitoring of the other children sponsored through CAF. We meet some of the children we met in the street the evening before in the Restaurant. They are painting and playing and wearing clean clothes. They seem to be really enjoying to be there.

Srey Pech, a member of the staff monitoring CAF sponsorships, explains to us that they are trying to attract the children living in the pagoda to the Restaurant. They do so by giving them every day some food for their families (e.g. 1 kg of rice). These children are also receiving 1 hour lessons with the hope that they can catch up and gain more confidence and in one year join the public school. CAF volunteers agree to seek sponsors for 10 of those children.

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We also meet Chan and Theary, a boy and a girl sponsored through CAF, when they return from school. It is very difficult to see Theary smile. She has a difficult family situation. We asked other children in the Restaurant to take care of her and make her “smile”. We hope for the better for her.

It is the last day of our trip to Cambodia for most of the members of our team. Only I stay for another day. The rest of the group is on its way to India to visit our projects there!!!

Thursday 24th February- Goodbye Cambodia… See you next year!

It is not easy to leave this country of everlasting smiles. But the time has come for me to come back.

I had the occasion to visit once more Le Restaurant des Enfants. I still had to meet Sina, the child sponsored by a good frien of mine, Leonie. Srey Pech read the letter that Leonie had written for him and show him her picture.

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I also had the opportunity to discuss with the President, Mr. Chhiv and Sreymom about their plans for the children of the families living in the pagoda. We gave them the good news: a donation of CAF of 350€ to cover the cost of taking care of these children while CAF finds the 10 sponsors still required.

I see some of the children of the pagoda, now clean after a good shower and receiving clean clothes. It is such a contrast of environment: seeing them begging and collecting bottles in the street, taking the left-overs of other people’s food and sleeping on cartons last Tuesday, and now meeting them in a place where they have a shower, play, have a hot meal, and take courses. Sreymom tells me that two girls were asking how much would it take for the daily 1-hour basic course to start. This is certainly a good sign!

I hope to be able to see these children joining school when we return next year.

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Choum reap Lear Kampuchea!