When I reached out my hand to touch the puppy's head, it barked at me and retreated to his mother's side. At least the pup has a mother, unlike some of the kids at the orphanage. Many of the kids at the centres are not orphans but are from very poor families. Their parents can't even afford to travel to the orphanage to see their kids, so family reunions are rare and always end up tearfully.
This trip was also rather special because I had a brief meeting with Leak, a 16-year old boy whom CH and I had sponsored to study at a school in the city. From the photo below, you can see that he is a handsome teen with a smiling face. When I returned to Singapore, we started communicating with each other. Now he calls me 'mum' and we talk about what he did during the day etc. It's funny how I end up with an extra 'son'!
I arrived at Savong Orphan Centre just after lunch to find the kids having afternoon nap.
The first thing that caught my eye was the beautifully paved outdoor area.
When we were there two months ago, the area outside the classrooms was dusty and dirty. SL and I contributed some funds for Savong to purchase tiles for paving the area. It's good to see the job done.
The kids were awoken from their nap and some sat on the floor, looking so sleepy. However, when the cookies were brought out, they came to life again!
The kids are a disciplined lot. Even though they enjoyed the cookies tremendously, nobody jostled or asked for extras.
They were happy with what was given and sat eating quietly.
Here the kids wear used clothes brought by donors from all over the world. I spotted a little girl wearing my niece's t-shirt. This good-looking boy looks rather stylish in a floral shirt!
Savong set up the orphanage to support the Thnoi Trong village children who have suffered the plight of abandonment, desperation, disease and starvation. Thnoi Trong Village is one of the poorest areas in Siem Reap.
Savong is like a father to the kids at the orphanage. Here, he is comforting a young boy who ran to him in tears.
During my visit, two teachers from a Singapore girls school were there on a visit. Here you see the kids peering out as the visitors toured the back garden.
The camaraderie amongst the kids is strong. I saw an older girl comforting a crying child and then struggle to carry her. I took over and carried the crying girl instead.
Savong brought me to another orphanage which he had recently helped the Austrian NGO set up.
It is larger, with better facilities.
It has a pond in the yard. I wonder if it serves as a swimming pool for the kids too.
The kids were happy to meet me and bombarded me with questions like, "What's your name?", "How old are you?" etc... phrases they have learned in English classes.
They love to practise their language skills and you'll never feel bored when you're amongst these boisterous kids.