What’s that, a Japanese flag flying from the wall. Yes indeed it is. What’s this Cambodian and Japanese writing on the school sign. Yes indeed it is. Huh???
Basically this orphanage is sponsored by the non-profit making School Aid Japan. So teachers are Japanese, helpers are Japanese, and hence the football academy is Japanese. Ah Ha it all becomes clear now.
Like a kids school disco. Girls all against one wall and boys against the other.
But this time it is the two schools split some invisible dividing line. Clearly a culture shock for both sides, and I think actually the very first time these kids had seen such a mixed bag from Singapore and clearly first time our guys had see Cambodian orphans.
Another thing that amazed me was how lovely this place was. Clean, well built, plumbed, no electric but on a generator. Smiley happy faces all round. I really expecting the village life I am used to when we visit to build houses in the villages, usually around the same time out of the city centre – about 2-3 hours away. But no, this place is beautiful. Look at it. That bloody floor is shinier than my condo.
So in this orphanage there are 80 kids – yep 80. So the photo above is just a sampling. A lot of the other kids were still at school, the older ones. So we were able the younger ones. Lovely kids they really were.
The funny thing here was the introductions. Spoken in Japanese, translated then to English, translated then to Cambodian. Amazing.
Three things on the itinerary here today at the orphanage;
- Preparing the food for the luncheon – which were 2 minutes in to and kids were cutting themselves with peelers, smoke was getting in their eyes, then all crying because of peeling the onions – I was like “what is everyone crying, we’re supposed to be happy here!”,
- The we were to be off to the fields – see more below,
- Then to have lunch with the kids and staff.
I wonder what we are going to have.
Clearly this is a lot of chicken meat pieces and a HUGE bowl of chopped garlic.
But what’s in the covered bowl, the size of a small car, with wet towels wrapped around the crack.
Ah Ha it’s steamed rice! Crazy, look at that rice – mind you we’re cooking for about 100+ people here today.
OK so peeling and chopping onions, potatoes and carrots. So that lot plus chicken, plus garlic with steamed rice – hmmmm still not sure what Cambodian delight this will be. I am still guessing.
Ollie gets stuck in. Let me just say this was open fire cooking using wood. The smoke was intense. Then add to that cutting 10’s and 10’s of onions, yep tears started a flowing. But boy you should have tried the rice, wow just that on its own was so tasty. Steamed to perfection and a little smoky from the fire. Delicious.
OK my turn to get in there and stir the chicken up a bit. But why am I using a shovel?
I have to say is that THE biggest spatula you have every seen or what!
I just wanted to share now some of the plaques on the walls of the entrance hall. I really liked these. Beautiful words, truly beautiful and also exactly aligned to why we do what we do to support the people of Cambodia to make them more sustainable. I loved these hence taking the time to type them up for you to read too, also they were in Cambodian, Japanese and English – yes these orphan kids are learning all three languages – what a start to life for them.
I think I mentioned it earlier when at the floating village. But it’s a sad thing to have to say that if neglected by their parents and made an orphan they potentially (if the lucky few) get located to an orphanage to gain education, health, food, accommodation and of course friendship. Very sad but also, wonderful to see the change in their outlooks.
Operation Policy of “Children’s House of Dreams”;
We run this house only to make 80 children happy.
We will make utmost efforts on the following;
- Help them learn good lifestyle habits,
- Help them learn good personality,
- Help them chase their dreams and learn to become self-reliant.
- Keep promises, and do not lie,
- Do not tell complaints or talk about someone behind his/her back,
- Greet people cheerfully with smiles,
- Understand your friend’s joy and sorrow,
- Work hard until you achieve your goal once you decide it is worth doing.
- This is the “Children’s House of Dreams,
- We shall never give up our dreams,
- We will become happy with other people around us in the future,
- We will chase our dreams and make our dreams come true in the future.
Off to the fields – “Hi Ho, Hi Ho, it’s off to ……………………….”
Literally picks in hand to the fields behind the orphanage. Weeding to commence of the lemon grass plants and some other plant I actually have no idea what it was. Cutting the weeds away between the rows to leave the plants clean and clear to grow.
SO hot here by the way. As you can see not a cloud in the sky, not a breath of a breeze and 35 degrees. WOW, that is hot hot hot.
The kids loved this.
That’s a lot of weed kids.
Little did you know you’d be playing football on a pitch very similar the next day ha ha!
Where’s the goals??
OK come on you know me by now. I have to take some moody ones, and go all B&W, or Sepia, or antique. I always find it shows the kids off so much better, minus the colour.
See our kids in the background weeding away above, gradually the orphans got involved too and mixed and mingled with our kids. Was a lovely thing to watch.
See, all the kids mingling with each other, working away to a common goal. Weed the bloody field.
And no way with all that red on could I covert this lovely little girl to B&W.
Go on Ollie get stuck in. He’s loving this he really is. Sweating like a pig, but also building up some hunger with some manual labour.
Again messing with the kids. They tend not to smile first time you try to take a picture, so you have to be a little whacky to get the smile. Then you can’t stop them. Great to see the smiles.
Here we all are. Parents, teachers, the football academy, the orphanage team to two sets of kids that could be one really. Lose the uniforms, they are all 10 year old kids, who like to play, like to laugh, like to dream as you’d see above. World over they are the same, some just have a better start and better outlook – back to the mission statement above let’s hope these guys get a good boost!
I wanted to show this one. This is how we got to the orphanage. Look how long that road of nothing but red dirt is. I didn’t get a shot and I am kicking myself for not doing so. But when the kids finished school (where we end up playing football) they road on bicycles up this road in the most pristine white uniforms I have ever seen. How they kept them so white with all the dust I shall never know.
Me, I walked out here and my feet looked like I had been treading grapes they were that black.
Not a lot around here is there. Again when we all boarded the air-conditioned coach to drive to the football, all the kids, about 100+ of them jumped on bicycles and rode off down the road to the school pitch.
I love this. This is in the dining room at the orphanage.
It lists all the students, their age, grade, name of their foster parent and their future dream aspiration.
When we had lunch we sat with two boys named on the left here. We made of game of it when I asked what they wanted to be, by pointing at girls not boys when asking which was them. Bless they thought it was hilarious. Must try some of my old jokes on them next time, my Singapore audience for those is waining thin! Ha Ha!
The rooms. Pretty basic mates on bunks, mosquito net, a blanket for a pillow, one fan for the whole room (which I noticed was not even plugged in), and that’s it. Oh yes and pillows laid about for about 20 in this room alone. But again compare this to what I showed you at floating village, this gets my vote!
I had a little chat with some of the kids about what they thought of this. You can see the attitude was changing the longer they stayed at the orphanage. Really pensive faces of consideration here I think you’ll agree – and absolutely the answers that came back were that of 4x 10 year olds really thinking about how the orphans live here. Good work guys! Mission accomplished, even if just for a short while!
See that cloud there. Yes that is a cloud, not a smudge on the camera lens.
Yeap a great sign that now was time to run around like idiots playing football and basketball with all that cloud cover to shield the sun and 35 degree heat.
Yes sarcasm. Man it was hot hot hot. And yes the guys all played football and basketball. BUT what was so so good about this, was watching sport bring people together. I get the linkage of the football academy with the school. It was like glue.
So funny here, can’t really who it. But Mr Josh is what 6’5″, maybe more. Towering above all on the basketball court. But all the kids came on and had a go, from 10 to 18. Superb fun to watch. Yes I admit it I was under a tree in the shade with some water. Yes yes I assumed the role of official photographer and water collector.
The to lunch. You know I mentioned before re what was it we were to eat?
It was Japanese Curry and rice, just like Miz makes ha ha. I smelled it as soon as I walked in to the lunch room. We all got mixed up so we could encourage interaction with the children tow way. That worked really well, and was really good fun.
I found out that the guy sat at my table, had a foster parent in Japan who owns a restaurant chain that make the curry so he continually sends over the curry mix from Japan for the orphanage to use. Amazing!
Then off to the school for the afternoon fun of football for two or so hours. Still 35 degrees and not a cloud in the sky let me add.
We were playing at the high school where the kids go to school – remember the bike ride. This is one of the classrooms. Yeap pretty grim isn’t it. No electricity, fans, air con, clam boards only, not a PC in sight. Almost Victorian in appearance. Has to be some more we can do support these guys right!
This was hysterical. Taka-san the football coach decides to have a “warm-up” session. Yeah right, back to the 35 degrees statement. Anyways they split the local guys in to NINE teams there were so many of them and our guys in to two teams.
First up, pass ball to person in front of you and run to back of the queue, repeat process and eventually you should cross the field. Get it? In principal pretty simple. MAYHEM ensued when he blew the whistle as one ball got thrown and then 200 kids all just ran across the field screaming and laughing, it was absolutely hysterical. You sort of can see that below yes.
OK let’s try a heading exercise instead. Similar concept. Similar outcome. Ha Ha Ha!!!!!
OK forgive me, it’s that time again!
Oh to know what the thought bubble is. What are these girls thinking I wonder. Could be anything!
Our guys then had football games against each of the nine team across the pitch.
Ah the pitch let me explain. Nice short grass as it is mowed by cows. What is output from cows that have just eaten a load of grass? Yeap this pitch was like a minefield of cow pats. Toilets were “questionable”. Broken roofing tiles on the half way line. Pits of deep muddy water in front of one goal mouth. It ain’t Wembley thought me, but we’ll give it our best shot.
Yes give it our best shot as in. The parents and teachers had to play 3 games of 11 aside against young ones, mid ages ones and old ones. This was hysterical too, just such great fun. I ended up barefoot as trainers had rubbed my feet raw. So trying to play, 35 degree heat, burning, sweat pouring in eyes, blisters on feet and yes having to do amazing slalom with the ball to miss all the cow shit. Ha Ha! What an experience, one never to be forgotten.
Again the kids made it, they were a joy to play football with at all ages. Great fun for all.
Ollie then had to make a short speech to thank everyone for such a great time with them. And yes it went Ollie’s English to Japanese to Cambodian. That’s a first for you Ollie.
And here is why again we did it. Even if it made one days difference to these kids lives that was worth the trip. Did we succeed Eton House? Take a look at these faces of ALL, and tell me different. Great job to all involved.
Amazing organisation by Josh, Bec, Mark and of course Emi. Kids you were outstanding ambassadors. Just so proud of what you all did, and please 500% I am there next year, even with Ollie not being at the school as it’s his final year, count us in, we’ll come for sure!