Our shared passion and love for working with children and hunger to create a more comfortable environment for those dealt a less than favorable hand has directed our journey to CPOC. Founded by Ny Kim and Ed Schroll in 2012, CPOC aims to help poor and orphaned children and teach them English to ready them for the evolving economy here in Cambodia; most importantly provide a home for the children.
Mr. Kim is a true inspiration. He was born disabled, and left an orphan at a young age, leaving him in a wheelchair for his entire life. However, before he could afford a wheelchair, Mr. Kim had to walk to school on his hands. The dirt roads combined with the four months of nonstop rain Southeast Asia experiences, left him extremely muddy and broken hearted. His teacher would not allow him in the class and he would have to attempt to learn English outside, through the bars in the windows of his classroom.
Mr. Kim's strength to push forward and overcome obstacles helped fuel his decision to open an orphanage. Thus the birth of CPOC in 2012. Since then a lot has improved, however the living conditions here are far from the point they need to be to encourage a proper learning and living environment.
The kids all come from troubled backgrounds with parents who have problems with alcohol and gambling or are abusive and mentally unstable. In other situations the parents simply do not want the children and they are left alone on the streets. Lastly, there are children whose parents to not have the means to provide proper food, education, or shelter and thus seek out CPOC. All of the children have found their home here through one way or another. Each child beams with light, laughter, and a hope for a better tomorrow and we are excited to help ignite their flames.
The children sleep in two small rooms, one for the boys and one for the girls. They sleep on thin mattresses that hardly separate them from the concrete floor. The children bathe out of a bucket of well water in the small bathroom next to the squat toilet. The same water they used to drink before volunteers began contributing two dollars a day. When volunteers aren't there providing a small daily donation, Mr. Kim has a hard time providing food and sometimes they are stuck eating only rice and soy sauce, or chili sauce if they are lucky.
Before we arrived, we exchanged emails with the founder, director, and teacher of CPOC, Mr. Kim, in regards to anything the children might need (we had no idea when we got here how much they really did need). Mr. Kim was humble and only gave us a short list of notebooks, pens, pencils, dry erase markers and erasers, bandages, and paracetamol. We purchased these items among with a few other items for the children when we arrived.
We have been living at CPOC now for a week and a half and see the unfortunate lack of funding. We give CPOC five dollars a day for letting us stay here, as well as to help chip in for food, but that doesn't cover much. The children spend 10 dollars a day, total to feed themselves and the volunteers. Each meal consists of white rice and a soup. All meals are made by the young children! They are so self-reliant, helpful, and amazing! We often buy them snacks, sugar cane, or little surprises when they come to the market with us but they have next to nothing. They each have a few outfits but that is about it. Mr. Kim must pay for Internet and rent monthly, as well as pay for students tuitions, buy clean drinking water, teaching/ classroom materials, soap, hygiene products and so much more. He also has two teachers that help to teach English and computer classes, which he tries to pay when he can... But often when he can't even make rent, he can't pay the teachers.
Also, recently Mr. Kim, besides breaking his arm, has been very stressed out because his main source of funding, a church in the U.S., is moving onto a new cause to diversify their donations. Jessica, myself, and a few of the other volunteers are attempting to raise as much money as possible to ease the times for Mr. Kim and also help him put more money aside for the new building he is saving to build. We also want to try to buy some constructive games, toys, and a soccer ball to help ease the kids into connecting with new foreigners.
So, we thought we would reach out to all of you just to tell you that this wonderful place exists, and if you've been thinking about making a donation to a good cause, we are here and can tell you that this is a great one. Even if it's only $5 or $10 - that makes such a huge difference here. All of your funding will go directly to providing for the kids that live at CPOC as well as the low-income students that take classes here. You can read more about the children, the organization, as well as current projects, etc. on CPOC's website: www.cpocfoundation.com
Although finding the time to blog has been challenging we encourage you to follow this experience and be with us in spirit through Jessica's blog, (www.28daysofanything.blogspot.com).
Thank you to everyone who chooses to support us and the children at CPOC! Namaste.
- Michelle Thompson
- Kailyn Petocchi
- ROBERTA DOYLE
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