Friday, 19 October 2012

In Phnom Penh

Unfortunately as readers will be aware our camera gear was all stolen so we' ll do our best to paint a picture with our prose.

We are currently in Phnom Penh, out networking with two wonderful groups doing some amazing work.  COLT,  who are working with Orphaned Children in urban Phnom Penh and CHOICE doing an equally great job with the poorest of the poor on the rural fringes of Phnom Penh.  Long term blog followers may remember that both these great organizations had been visited before.

We have also spent time at the Russian Market, so named as the market Russian ex-pats visited back in time when they were the quasi colonial power in the '80s. This market (or Phsar in Khmer) is a little different to the main market (Phsar Thmey) in Phnom Penh, full of food stuffs & tourist t-shirts but has some exquisite crafts & art work from local Cambodian artisans as well as the more ubiquitous food stuffs, t-shirts & bootlegged movies & software.


COLT work with orphans from Phnom Penh, unfortunately many orphanages in Cambodia have an unsavory reputation and are simply there as a money making concern,  complete with "rent-an-orphan", where unsuspecting barang (Khmer word for western foreigners) are milked for donations.  One of the great things about being on the ground is being able to do some due diligence on organisations and we are happy to say from everything we've seen, both these organisations are the real deal.

Photo of poster on the back of the door at the toilet of our guesthouse (taken with phone camera)

COLT have a large solar install underway, so I was keen to see that. The money raised for the project was from generous donors, mostly from Holland. Part of that is having electric scooters (or moto's as they're called locally) that can be charged from the solar system. When the install is complete it will provide them with an energy self sufficiency  that will be empowering and provide free power to the school and orphanage. We gave them a donation of $100 toward the Hand in Hand project.


It's hard to find the superlatives that describe the wonderful work these guys do.  They provide essential needs for five villages one hour from Phnom Penh. If you can picture the poorest & dispossessed who live under pieces of tin and old tarpaulins, no fresh water. These are the people they help with the simplest of necessities.  Choice provide fresh water every day, food drops once a week and clothing once a month. We purchased some rice, tinned fish for 200 people and gave them a small donation of $50.


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