Tuesday, March 23, 2010


I first heard about World Vision in 2005 while on holiday in Brisbane. Like most people, I read the literature given to me, and that was about it. No action taken on my part. It wasn't till a month ago when my daughter, Belle, brought up the subject of child sponsorship again. She and her sister, Moon, have been sponsoring children in several countries over the past years.  Good thing they never gave up on me!

This time I was ready to sign up. A month later I became a 'foster' parent to a shy 6-year old boy from a village about 90 minutes' drive from Phnom Penh. On 16 March I left for Cambodia together with 11 other Malaysians who were all excited to see their sponsored children for the first time.

The smiles say it all - my sponsored child, his uncle and his grandma leaving for home with the gifts of school bag, stationery and provisions. He was absolutely thrilled with the toy car Belle gave him. It was his first toy ever. Before this all he had to play with were rubber bands.

Cambodia is on the list of the world's poorest countries. It relies heavily on foreign aid, hence the strong presence of aid organizations such as World Vision. WV has been in the country since 1970, and doing excellent work there based on what I observed on the trip.

The teacher in me couldn't resist asking "How many of you want to be a teacher when you grow up?" WV introduced filtered water in this school so that the children could have clean water to drink.

One of World Vision Cambodia's (WVC)'major projects is to provide water security to the village communities. A joint effort, WV provides the resources, the villagers provide the manpower to install pumps and maintain them. Usually 15 families will share a pump. The villagers are taught to drink only boiled water.

An integral part of WVC's health and sanitation programs is to promote the use of latrines.

Thanks to joint efforts by WVC and the villagers, irrigation canals now bring water to these vegetable beds.

Young people make up more than 50% of the population in Cambodia. WVC provides skills training to help them earn an income. We visited a drawing club and were impressed by some of the art work produced by the students.

The womenfolk are taught silk-weaving. The finished product can fetch US$40 a piece - a princely sum in a country where the average take-home pay for a teacher is US$70 a month.

Women receiving donations of rice and clothes for their families. In the background are members of the village committee.

I was totally mesmerized by this boy in the primary school we visited. He sang his heart out in a song about a man who sold his only buffalo to pay his mother's hospital bill. This little girl here is one of the many beautiful children you see everywhere in the countryside. WV focuses on children in particular because they are the most vulnerable, but hold the most promise for a better future.

Visiting a home in one of the villages. The jars are used for collecting rain water. The water security projects initiated by WVC have brought much-needed water to the fields and homes during the dry season from November to May.

I was honoured to meet this woman. Her family is one of many that have benefitted from WV's community development programs. Today she is a committee member of WVC's Health Equity Fund and main facilitator for her group of 12 households. She helps to promote good habits of hygiene and sanitation among the villagers. 

Now that I've seen for myself the good work done by WVC, I'm making World Vision one of my favourite aid organizations to contribute to. Sponsoring a child costs only RM50 a month. And the money goes such a long way. WV is rated among the top NGOs for transparency and accountability.

If you would like to know more about World Vision or about child sponsorship, drop by at The Curve, Mutiara Damansara from 25-28 March, 10am-10pm. WV Malaysia is having an awareness campaign and I've volunteered to help out. Hope to see you there.


Magician said...

Thanks for sharing about the trip. I am a WV child sponsor too. And I like the idea that the money is used for community building and development, instead of just direct money aid to the child & family.
See you at the curve.

Jennifer said...

Great sharing! Thanks.