Saturday, January 8, 2011

A Place That Dreams Are Made Of....

During last year’s trip to Cambodia, we met Dan and Kath, a great young couple who were staying at the Golden Takeo guesthouse just around the corner from us.  They‘d started out touring and had somehow been bitten by the same bug that seems to get a lot of us, and they’d just stayed.  It’s the kids; they just steal your heart. 
Dan and Kath were volunteering at an orphanage run by a Cambodian man, who turned out to be a lot less honest than anyone could have imagined.  This man took thousands of dollars which had been donated for the purchase of land to build a new orphanage, and he’d squandered it, or used it for himself.  I’ve learned to believe that out of bad comes good, and in this case, out of bad came the stuff that dreams are made of:  Honour Village was born.
  Gordon and I went to Honour Village yesterday, just to check it out.  We went in Tee Tee’s tuk-tuk, and although it was a scenic 18 km ride, and Tee Tee is an expert driver, the road is under construction, with huge chunks of pavement missing, filled in with loose gravel.  It was a wild ride!  A couple of times, that tuk-tuk felt like it was riding on one wheel, and I thought we were done for.  I kept thinking it was a good thing we’d already committed to Savong, because at least the commute was safe.  Next we turned from the ‘paved’ road onto a dirt road, which was even worse than the last.  Passing motos and cars threw up massive clouds of brick-red dust, and I wondered how much longer I could hold my breath and still survive.  The road seemed like it had just been put in and a lot of brand new buildings dotted the landscape, with several still under construction.  As we came upon one complex, I was thinking to myself how tidy and smart it looked, when I realized our tuk-tuk was turning in, and that was when we fell in love.   We’d arrived at Honour Village.
The houses at Honour Village

A swarm of kids ran out to meet us, bowing politely and greeting us with 'Jum reap sour' which is a formal greeting of respect for elders.  They were followed closely by Susan, the founder, who is ‘mother hen’ to the 30+ children living there.   As we approached the first building, two volunteers were sitting cross-legged with another group of children, merrily drawing and colouring away.  Everyone seemed happy.  Tee Tee wandered around greeting everyone, and gave us a brief tour while Susan finished up some tasks, then he settled onto the floor with the kids and joined in the colouring.

Colouring and drawing with the kids

Tee Tee being a kid

We had a great meeting with Susan, who lives on the compound 10 months of the year.  She is a warm, caring lady whose heart and soul are clearly and genuinely dedicated to her brood, easily rhyming off   the names and personality quirks of every child.  She openly expresses her love for them all, and these kids are thriving on it. 

One of the kids hugging 'O.B. Joyful', one of two kittens here.  The other one is 'O.B. Happy'
We talked about the brief history of Honour Village, the current construction in progress and future plans. 

We told Susan why we were in Cambodia, and what we’d done last year.  Dan, who is now on the board of directors for Honour Village, had mentioned that they already have a full complement of volunteers slated in for this year, but when Susan heard that I’d taught embroidery,  and Gordon built furniture, her eyes really lit up.  She has a clear idea of what these kids need, and where she wants to focus.  She’s a lady with a vision, well-organized and obviously gets things done, and we could almost hear the wheels turning.  She desperately needs some shelving and low tables for the ‘little ones’ to eat and play.  Gordon can easily handle that.  And she was absolutely delighted at the prospect of her kids learning embroidery!   We can’t commit to an exact date, but we went away knowing this was a great ‘fit’ for us…..even if the roads were awful. 
And then the most interesting thing happened…. Tee Tee took a different, much better road home….and it all all seemed right after all. 
Some sights along the road....
We had to go around them...they weren't budging.

Kids looking for snakes
A well-balanced load
This was the gravel road part.....and a wandering steer


1 comment:

  1. Dorothy, I am reading every word. Love following your blog!