Update from Annie Wilson
The last few months have been so exciting both here and in my homeland of New Zealand.
My son Joshua and his partner Renee had a baby boy so I'm now 'Yay' -Khmer for grandma. His name is Griffin. Here are a few photos for you to enjoy his wee little face as much as I do. He is healthy and being home in New Zealand for his arrival was a blessing I can never explain.
I had a wonderful time with my daughters and son in law too who are doing great and still happily supporting me here and loving life.
As you know I have been making decisions and organising funds around some community initiatives. Houses in the rural province and the building of a well for an elderly couple in need of water at the village in the province of Kampong Cham.
For those new to the idea I proposed a 50/50 project to build a house. i.e. 50 people contributing $50 which is enough to get a house built up here. The first one we are building is for a widow I have relationship with through our organisation. Once we get started I'm sure we can make a few houses happen. There is so much need here and I have a passion to see people in homes not tin sheds or shelters.
The second project is 30/30. 30 people giving $30 which will be enough to build a well in a rural village for the elderly grandparents of two of our orphans.
Many people have responded and we are underway with the first house. It is half completed...see photos! I'm so overwhelmed that we can all give a little bit and see this happen for a woman who would I'm sure without us have never had a home to live in and be able to give her family security in this poverty stricken village.
In my heart I knew we could do something remarkable together. Thank you for your trust and most of all your generosity in your financial partnership of this project.
I know a few of you talked about supporting a house build. Please let me know if you would like to go ahead. I will make it happen here and have already identified the families.
Sometimes we have to look beyond the circumstances at what looks difficult but trust the still small voice that whispers "why not...you're here...you can make it happen..." Once seen how can we ignore? Standing on the land out at the province looking at this lady walking into her tin shed in the heat of the day I just knew we could build her a house together.
With the Water Well we can't start till all the money is in so if this is still on your to do list I'm hoping we can start at the end of June.
I have been Mum to a few of our students at their weddings now. (4 already) 3 this year...you would remember last year the girl who had an unplanned pregnancy and her family disowned her? She has been a great Mum to her little boy who is thriving and recently through your support we had the wedding enabling her to marry the father. As a result her estranged family have now accepted her back and she was recently reunited with her parents and siblings...if I was here in Cambodia just to have helped in their lives it has all been worth it.
The wedding celebrations go on and on for 2-3 days! The average age for marriage here for a girl is 22 and a boy is 25… so the parties are quite fun...oh my goodness trying to keep up with them on the dance floor is outrageous!
There's a big gap in the ages of people in this country. Half the population is younger than 15 years old and a huge lack of over 50 year olds because of the Khmer Rouge regime systematically killing at least 2-3 million people. Absolute horror. A dark history. Human life was completely disregarded and repression and massacre prevailed on a massive scale during those years. It was an attempt to transform Cambodia into a rural classless society. Public schools, pagodas, mosques, churches, universities, shops and government buildings were shut or turned into prisons, stables, re-education camps and granaries.
It is believed to have been the most brutal rule in the history of the world. The country and its people are still recovering and that's why it's so important we together are here making a difference. One of the students said to me yesterday they missed me while I was away because I always "pick up her heart"- why I'm here...why you are all a part of this journey with me...we are picking up the hearts of the individuals and the heart of this country...
Thank you for your help to keep me here.
The Buddhist New Year is celebrated in April and is called Khmer New Year. It was celebrated while I was at home in New Zealand but they certainly all seemed to have had a good time visiting their homelands and have come back refreshed and ready for study again. 95% of the population here are Buddhist. It's the official religion of Cambodia.
It's a harsh fact about Cambodia that more than two and a half million people here live on less than $1.20 a day. And for that they have to work extremely hard just to cover their basic needs before they get to the point where they can start making a surplus of any kind.
Our individual giving plays such an important role here. Many NGOs are helping in various ways but you can see why having a home is so difficult and for those without family support it’s almost impossible. I just want to in some way reduce the unnecessary suffering of just the few that I can.
Last week I visited a cafe near where I live. They have a pool there that's quite deep and while I was there a young girl about 6 had sunk to the bottom and nobody had noticed. Suddenly I saw her and jumped in fully clothed and managed to rescue her. She took a while to come round but thank God I was there. Most Cambodians can't swim so she was blessed that day there was a barang there...I got a free coffee and elevated to local hero status lol!
So that's where things are at at the moment up here. I'm saving up to buy a car and that will make visiting the provinces easier and will keep me a bit safer out and about. The students are doing great. Football takes up a lot of time when they are not studying. Mentoring this age group definitely has its share of challenges but seeing the budding architects, doctors, agronomists, mechanics, hairdressers and engineers pass exams makes it all worth the effort! Rebuilding the Children of Cambodia….
Thank you to everyone who helped me get home to my family and meet my grandson. Thanks for the treats, accommodation, coffees, laughs, hugs and encouraging words. I am so blessed to have such amazing people in my life. Rich in so many ways.
Together we are doing something so cool here. Wish you could all see with your own eyes. It's tough but so worth it.
Many many thanks to all of you who are financially supporting these projects, the students and me here at Awareness Cambodia.
And for the ones asking for details would you consider partnering with me to help change this little piece of the world? You could either give a donation on this web site or into either of the accounts listed below depending where you live.
If you want to give to a particular project just put in on the reference and I’ll allocate it there.
New Zealand - account is ANZ: 06 0383 0717104 00 A B Wilson
We can do this together.