Saturday, March 17, 2018

Batteries, Bilges and Bikes

Dear Friends,

We hope all is well with you. We recently went out to the Stung Sen River and the Tonle Sap Lake to make and install pumps that will assist The Lake Clinic, Cambodia. The new pumps are simple and effective and will increase the longevity of the hulls by pumping rain water out of the bilges in the rainy season. We also had new batteries installed at three of the five clinics. The batteries store the power from the solar systems and in turn allow the clinics to have electricity for lighting, medical equipment and fans; believe us in 35 degree weather fans are precious! Thanks to Compassionate Eye Foundation for supporting the infrastructure of this important program that brings healthcare to those living in very poor and isolated areas. Sometimes it is the things that are not necessarily noticed that are in fact important in easing the lives of others.

We also went out to the countryside to deliver more bikes that are supported by K.I.D.S. donors. The students and families were very appreciative. Buying bikes here in Cambodia improves lives in three ways. Since we buy bikes locally our purchase supports the families that sell and fix bicycles. Giving a student a bike allows them to get to school and often they can take one of their siblings, with them, as so many have to travel long distances. The third benefit is for the families themselves, they can use bikes to get to clinics, take their children to and from home and buy food at the local market. Together, this year, thanks to your generosity we provided close to 200 bikes to kids and families. A special thanks to Yoeun (Kim) Thol and Sok Hak who work with us and schools/villages to improve lives and opportunities for education and a big "Thank You" for your continued support.

Until Next time,
Adrianne and Rick

Thursday, March 8, 2018

International Women's Day

Hi Everyone,

Over the years K.I.D.S. has supported many girls and women. Today being​ ​International Women's Day we thought we would share a few of their stories.

Some of you may remember Sopeak, the girl with the hearing disability, who we met many years ago while visiting a poor rural village. Sopeak's mother pushed her forward from a crowd and told her to speak English and to our surprise she spoke very clearly. It turns out that she would ride her bike long distances to study at a small free English program, which had closed down. We were so impressed we offered to help her to continue her studies at a better school. That was 12 years ago. Since that time KIDS has supported Sopeak to study English and university in the city, she was often the top of her class and finished a degree in accounting and English. Coming to the city was very frightening for her however she faced her fears and worked hard and now she teaches English and Khmer at an Australian non-profit program for at risk girls.

Sopeak is now a 25 year old woman with a vision and a good job, she is married to a great man who loves her dearly and they are expecting their first baby. Sopeak has helped her family by having her sisters live with her in the city and now they both have good jobs and finished school; she also helped her parents and they were able to move from their small thatched shack and build a bigger house. Sopeak and her husband managed to buy some land and are growing mangos and other fruits and will one-day move there to be closer to her family. Education changes girl's lives and the lives of their families and Sopeak is a great example of this truth.

Sohing's School 
A few years ago, at one of our favourite restaurants, we got to know Sohing, one of the servers. After many conversations we found out that she worked 6 days a week, 12 hours a day. Sohing comes from a small village which is very poor. We discovered that she paid a teacher to teach English to some of the poorer children in her village and as these kids were often hungry she would also go out once a week on her day off and cook them a nutritious meal.

We went to visit her little school which is under her small, wooden family home. We met 35 kids that were very happy to learn and doing well with their lessons. We asked her if we could help her; that was two years ago. Sohing now lives back in her home/village, works her land, and with K.I.D.S. support keeps her little school going. This amazing woman sacrificed her own meager wages to help these lovely kids. Recently we took them all on an outing, the students adore Sohing and their teacher and have dreams of finding good jobs and bettering their lives.

Stung Treng Women's Development Centre 
This incredible program was started by two inspiring people, Kim Dara Chan and Chantha Nguon, many years ago. The program trains poor, uneducated women in the art of silk weaving. We visited their program 14 years ago and were moved by how these women were able to make a decent living in a caring, respectful and supportive community. One issue for the women was daycare and so a small daycare/kindergarten was initiated. Thanks to K.I.D.S. donors we now provide 40 children with a creative, educational program. The women who teach there are incredibly committed and skilled; in fact, when these kids go on to the government schools they are often number 1 or 2 in their classes. Now these women do not have to live in poverty and their children are happy and healthy just steps away from where they work. The beautiul silk products they make are sold around the world. In addition this year K.I.D.S. has implemented a computer training program where girl's and women can learn computer skills as well.

We admire the strength, commitment and perseverance of these girls and women who have succeeded against incredible odds. They have worked hard to improve their lives, the lives of their children, families and communities. 
Thanks for your support! 

All the best to all of you,
Adrianne and Rick

Thursday, March 1, 2018

The Lake Clinic

Hello Everyone,

Going out on the Tonle Sap Lake in central Cambodia never fails to be both an adventure and a challenge. This time of year it is very hot and humid out there and once the sun sets an onslaught of insects come out in full force to any light source so it is wise to be in bed and in your mosquito net just past sunset at around 6:30 pm. The locals, including children, mostly fish for a living and spend virtually their entire lives afloat either on their homes or boats.

The Lake Clinic Cambodia (TLC) was founded 10 years ago by Jon Morgan. The struggles of severe poverty is compounded by life on the water and prior to the founding of TLC there was a total lack of access to health care. Each week two TLC teams, comprised of a doctor, nurse, midwife, pharmacist, and registrar rotate through the four clinics on the lake and one on the Stung Sen River (that K.I.D.S. built 6 years ago). On our trips out to the lake we have witnessed the incredible difference that these medical teams make in easing the suffering of children and families. Without a doubt TLC and their amazing and dedicated teams save lives.

Jon was grateful when we told him that this year K.I.D.S. was able to help TLC by providing funding for two of the three midwives who work for TLC.

The environment on the lake is not only hard on people it is demanding on the infrastructure of TLC. This trip the solar powered battery banks, of two of the clinics, that provide electricity for lighting, computers and fans to keep patients and staff comfortable needed replacing. We also redesigned and replaced the pumping systems on the clinics with simple local technology to help keep water out of the hulls. Thank you Compassionate Eye Foundation for funding the batteries and pumps.

We recently went out to the lake and spent a couple of days doing repairs and improvements on the floating clinics. Adrianne and I and the TLC boat pilot spent our time replacing plugs and switches, repainting doors, installing wire to stop birds from coming into the clinics and building and installing the pumps.

K.I.D.S. also provided school supplies and some repairs to the little floating school that is next door to the clinic. Last year K.I.D.S was able to keep this little school afloat by buying new bamboo to put under the school. This small simple one room school provides the children an opportunity for education and respite from the daily struggles of fishing and a subsistence living on the lake.

We are literally in awe of the residents of the lake who live and work in these conditions indefinitely and the teams from TLC who travel long distances out there weekly to make their lives healthier.

Thank you to all K.I.D.S. supporters and donors, your assistance here keeps kids healthy and makes a difference beyond measure.

Till Next Time,
Rick and Adrianne

Sunday, February 25, 2018

Kids, Kindergartens and Kitchens

Dear Friends,

Sometimes it is the things we don't really notice that can make life uncomfortable for others. Here in Cambodia we visit many schools for various reasons: to put in clean drinking water systems, bring bikes, build classrooms and give school supplies. The teachers and principals don't ask for much and are grateful for any support K.I.D.S. can provide. Recently we were visiting a couple of schools we have supported in the past. While there, we visited the three kindergarten classrooms and noticed that the rooms had rough concrete floors and the children were sitting on plastic sheets as to not to get their uniforms dirty. As we know little ones love to play on the floor and in a country like Cambodia most people often sit on the floor to play, learn, eat and visit. The principals mentioned that they would really like to tile the floors so it was cleaner for the children and so we had the three classrooms tiled and voila everyone was much happier, cleaner and more comfortable. We also tiled one office, where the teachers work and store supplies as they were battling dust and discomfort as well. Thanks very much to the Compassionate Eye Foundation and K.I.D.S. donors for helping make this happen!

Imagine feeding 600 kids a day with a few pots, pans and working on the cement floor...well that is what Feeding Dreams Cambodia does every school day. This great program provides free English lessons to over 600 students and a free meal program. Most of the kids live in slum areas in the city and could never afford to learn English and in a tourist place like Siem Reap English will help get them a job one day. Thanks to K.I.D.S. donors we were able to build a new kitchen; needless to say that the kitchen staff were thrilled and can now work in a clean and well equipped space and continue to churn out nutritious meals...for some kids it will be their only real meal of the day. Together over the years K.I.D.S. has provided this great school with bathrooms, clean drinking water, computers for their free computer training program and support for their outreach program. Hats off to Kerry Huntly and the incredible Cambodian staff who work tirelessly to improve the futures of children and youth.

On behalf of hundreds of kids who are healthier and happier thanks to you, we send our appreciation!
All the best until next time,
Adrianne and Rick

Friday, February 16, 2018

A Home of Their Owin

Dear Friends,

We hope all is well with you and yours. As many of you know K.I.D.S. has been supporting a home for girls for the past 9 years. The home is just that "A Home", a place where girls who have been abandoned, abused, neglected or orphaned can live together, support each other and thrive. This is all made possible thanks to You Vath, who we met many years ago when she was running a street children's shelter. You Vath tragically lost her whole family during the genocide in Cambodia, including her husband and 2 children; rather than fold to defeat she decided to help other children and to adopt an abandoned child 25 years ago. You Vath opened her home and her heart to these and many more children and thanks to K.I.D.S. donors we have been able to support them in living healthy and happier lives.

Not only has You Vath supported girls, she also supports boys who have no where to go and over the years K.I.D.S has also assisted these great boys. Many of them are now going to university, working or going to training school.

You Vath has helped hundreds of kids and many of them call her Mak Tom (Big Mother). It is truly moving when we meet some of the girls we knew, many years ago, when they drop by and visit with their own children.

You Vath has and continues to be an inspiration to us...her courage, compassion and dedication has changed so many young peoples lives and given them a chance for better futures. You Vath, her wonderful daughter Samnang, and all the great kids we have been fortunate enough to meet over the years have also improved our lives immensely.

Thank you for supporting these incredible people.

All the very best to all of you,
Adrianne and Rick 

Sunday, February 4, 2018


Dear Friends,

We are writing this from the town of Sauraha in southern Nepal, the lowland area near the border with India. It has been about five years since we have done projects in a country other than Cambodia. Nepal has been on our list of places for a future project for some time. This past summer we came upon news reports of flooding in this area, there was lots of damage to personal property and lives lost. Our research led us to a Canadian charity called Women's Education and Literacy Nepal (WELNepal) founded and run by David Walton from Toronto.

WELNepal has taught over 6,000 women, of all ages. to read and write, currently there are 560 women in the literacy program. They also sponsor many bright young women to complete high school, bachelor degrees and master's programs. In addition they support income generation programs such as: candle, incense, soap making, sewing programs and organic farming.

WELNepal supplies small libraries to the literacy class graduates, their children and other villagers to improve their readings skills. The libraries are comprised of story books relevant to the area as well as books on health issues, farming practices, human rights and other knowledge based topics.

Over the course of our stay we went out with David and Raj and Harimaya, the local coordinators for WELNepal, they took us out to visit their literacy classes and some income generation projects. We were inspired to watch the women, who six months ago could not read or write their own names, stand up and read to us and write on the white board proudly and with confidence.

K.I.D.S. has funded another library for one of the communities in this area. Poor eyesight is also an issue for many of the women so K.I.D.S. has also supplied 250 pairs of reading glasses that will be distributed as needed.

Sauraha is a poor rural farming area and like Cambodia a diverse skillset helps poor families survive, reduce their overhead and stretch their farming income. With this in mind K.I.D.S. is purchasing sewing machines and implementing another sewing training program for 28 women. Upon completion of their training they will be able to repair or sew new clothing for their children and families as well as make school uniforms for their children. K.I.D.S. will grant the sewing machines to the women after the program. We are sure with their resourcefulness that there will be income generation opportunities for these hard working women when they acquire their new sewing skills.

We also visited and distributed books, pens, pencils and backpacks for a group of 52 school children from a very poor ethnic minority called the Chepang, often characterized as the poorest of Nepals poor.

The work that K.I.D.S. does would be impossible to do without close and dedicated partnerships. Our experience here in Sauraha and Nepal has been amazing and very moving. Many thanks to David, Raj and Harimaya. We admire their compassion and commitment to improve the lives of women, children and families.

Once again we want to extend our most heartfelt thank you to K.I.D.S. donors who continue to partner with us to make change where it matters most; at a grassroots level, in people's homes, hearts and minds. Your contributions, without a doubt, continue to improve lives and change futures.

We head back to Cambodia in a couple of days and we leave behind new friends here in Nepal.

Dherai Dehrai Dhanyabad
(Thank You Very Very Much in Nepal)
Till next time
Rick and Adrianne

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

No Place Like Home

Dear Friends,

One of the main areas of focus for K.I.D.S. is education. Often attending and physically being in school is the easy part for students compared to the struggles that they face outside the school environment. We have written about difficulties with transportation, access to drinking water and nutrition as being major barriers children are forced to navigate in their quest for education, and how K.I.D.S. assists in helping students overcome these issues.

Lack of proper housing and toilets conspires to throw health issues into the mix further complicating a student's ability to access education.

We can only imagine how difficult it would be living in a house where the roof and walls leak rain and wind, some children cannot find a place to sleep large enough to escape drips in the thatched roofs. Often a complete lack of a toilet facility at home forces children to spend a lot of time searching for privacy in wooded areas as well ponds or rivers to bathe in.

This trip K.I.D.S. donors, Sarah Gilks, creator and founder, of the Healthy Role Models program and the women who participate in the program have partnered with K.I.D.S. to build 3 new houses, renovate 2 and provide 18 more families from our education sponsorship program with toilets within a few steps of their homes. A big thank you to Sarah and HRM for supporting 10 of these bathrooms and 2 of these houses.

The homes are very modest with windows and a door for ventilation and security and a basic brick outhouse with a small water reservoir, a squat toilet and a drain in the tile floor so they can bathe in privacy. We were also happy to be able to provide work for local villagers.

For these children and families obtaining the resources to build a basic house or a toilet is almost impossible.

Needless to say the families of the kids in our Smart Kids sponsorship prorgram were extremely thankful. We will let the photos speak for themselves.

Thanks again for continuing to improve lives!
All the very best to all of you,
Rick and Adrianne