Dutch-NetherlandsEnglish (United Kingdom)

Ollie Smallwood, from England

Leaving our hostel in the centre of Phnom Penh we climb inside our compact tuk tuk cabin attached to the back of Kiwi's motorbike; bottle of water in one hand and surgeon-style mask in the other we set off on our 45 minute commute.
The morning rush hour in Phnom Penh is congested and chaotic (a metaphor for life in Cambodia's capital city): The 4x4 Lexus sit at the top of the food chain bullying the other vehicles in much the same way as their passengers, shielded behind dark glass, rule the country. Barely roadworthy, trucks used to transport building materials stir up a concoction of black fumes and dust, to be inhaled by the majority. Motorbikes provide family transport: two or three kids sandwiched between parents. Tuk-Tuks and bicycles weave in all directions. With no traffic lights, and few junctions or roundabouts to order the flow of vehicles, progress relies on opportunism and trust.
Kiwi nervelessly steers our path to the other side of the city and onto the dusty highway, masks and sun shades firmly in place to protect our eyes and lungs. A mixture of concrete buildings and huts exist along the side of the road amongst a sea of rubbish. The inhabitants often smile and wave as we pass by.
We turn onto a farm track. The last part of our journey is a roller-coaster, jumping out of potholes and swerving to avoid falling off the subsiding road. We pass huts on stilts, skinny cows and farm yards where children jump and scream upon sighting us. The stream along the side of the road is almost bone dry and vegetation is sparse across the fields.
Finally we arrive at our destination: the oasis that is Samrong Farm. By the gates, a group of 10-year-old children compete in the ferocious arena of marbles. We're greeted by the shouts of 'cha, cha!' from several other kids gathering round. As we clamber out of our vehicle the sun is already hot and the oasis is as dry as the fields surrounding it. In such conditions you would imagine life to be hard, but you wouldn't know it to see the warm smiles and hear the laughter of the inhabitants at Samrong Orphanage.
Compared to children in the Western World they have little and yet they give so much in generosity of spirit and enthusiasm for every day. Despite the journey it is a pleasure to arrive at work in the morning.
The gong chimes for the beginning of class and more students appear from their dormitories for the morning lesson. As they gather in the classroom there is an air of mischief, some playful teasing and laughing. But, upon arrival of the teacher, I can't help but notice their obedient nature and a willingness to learn. Throughout the lesson there is an enthusiastic participation accompanied by more laughter. There is camaraderie amongst the children built upon a brilliant sense of humour and a community spirit. The students range from 6 to 20 with the older kids assuming motherly and big brotherly roles.
The fact that Samrong Orphanage works so well is testament to the efforts of a few special people. Mr Sjef Philipsen is the inspirational founder of the project. His infectious enthusiasm rubs off on those running the project on a day to day basis, volunteer teachers and the children themselves. And, equally importantly, his desire to get the project completed is crucial to the raising of funds in Holland and the rapid progress on site. Most recent additions to the project in 2009 are a new classroom and a giant greenhouse - the first of it's kind in Cambodia which will allow the orphanage to grow it's own produce all year round despite the country's extreme climate.

Ondersteuning vanuit Nederland:
Stichting WWCF
Pascalweg 49
3076 JL Rotterdam
Tel: +31(0)10-4199188
E-mail: info@wwcf.nl

NL17 INGB 0004 655 035
RSIN: 813164151

Download hier het Jaarverslag van 2017