What an inspiring, humbling, and touching time we had at KKEV – Kinderhilfe Kambodscha – in Phnom Penh.
After 2.5 years during which travel to Cambodia was not possible, for reasons we all know, my husband, Benjamin, Laura (2 of our 5 children) and I, finally travelled to the orphanage to see the children and the staff. What a joy – the curiosity, sense of belonging, the spirit of community - the laughter of the children was simply contagious!
The staff did an amazing job during the past two years by adapting to online learning for all the kids in the orphanage – who usually attend public school classes. Now that life in Cambodia is almost back to normal, KKEV also restarted the street children support program which enables children from very poor family backgrounds to get extra school support with the objective to succeed beyond primary school.
At the KKEV village, we had a session with the older students who wanted to hear about our "lessons for life” and how to prepare for the future. These students have some dreams bigger than others – from being a mechanic, fixing air-conditioners, to being an accountant or medical doctor - they all understand very well that these dreams require hard work. Students who have been part of the KKEV orphanage for more than 7 years also clearly underlined that KKEV is their home – their special family – and this is what my family and I want to secure for them.
We also had a working session with the entire staff and we asked them to discuss 2 questions in small break-out groups: 1) what do you love about your role at KKEV? and 2) what could make KKEV an even better place to work for? There is no question that the love for children and the wish to see them grow up safely, healthy and with a good education makes them get up in the morning. They want to make sure that the children have a real home even if they do not have parents or do not have the parents who care. They want the kids to become independent learners who are able to live independent lives – who can have a real profession and make their living. The staff shared many ideas for further improvements: from maintenance of existing infrastructure, to expanding the fish or vegetable farming project and many more ideas directed to allow high school students to access broader educational pathways for their future. The driver of the village who takes the younger kids to school every day in a truck stood up to suggest whether it was possible to "secure funding to allow children to attend university as a pathway beyond vocational training?”. The entire staff supported this idea, and this was the moment when we felt deep care for this initiative, and our responsibility for supporting KKEV.
I cannot capture all our impressions and emotions in this note, but perhaps this contagious sense of happiness and dedication to secure funding for KKEV can best be described through the photos we took.
Thanks to the local staff to create this environment for the children, and to our donors who generously secure funding. We now, more than ever need additional help to capture the financial means to not only maintain but also grow KKEV!