Making a Difference for Good! in Cambodia
School & Orphanage Support
“Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world” Nelson Mandela
To provide assistance to schools and orphanages in Siem Reap with the aim of increasing attendance, improving the quality of education and helping to create a harmonious environment in which young students can develop, prosper and realise their full potential.
Why is supporting schools important?
Whilst Cambodia boasts relatively high primary school enrolment rates for a developing country, its ‘free’ education system leaves much to be desired and is, in many ways, still suffering from the impact of the Khmer Rouge’s policies over thirty years ago. This is particularly true for rural areas in Cambodia, which suffer the most from a poor educational system.
Severely limited numbers of schools that offer a full curriculum; an abundance of poorly trained and poorly paid teachers; overcrowded classrooms; low levels of financial support to schools from the government and the widespread charging of ‘informal’ school fees are all factors that has lead to poor standards of education in rural areas and alarmingly high grade repetition and drop-out rates amongst students.
Siem Reap is one of the worst affected provinces by this situation, performing lower than the national average on every education indicator and falling near the bottom of the table on many indicators (EMIS/CIPS).
Did you know…
What does MaD do?
MaD provides items such as school uniforms, stationary and books to students who would otherwise not have been able to afford them and could become discouraged from attending school as a result. MaD has also provided students who live long distances from schools with bikes in order to encourage them to keep travelling the distance every day.
We provide support to teachers to help them provide the best education they can to their students. We provide them with school supplies and Khmer teaching aids and resources to help them improve the quality of their lessons. We also provide them with more formal teacher training from our staff and our volunteers.
Installing water pumps and sanitation units
Where needed, MaD installs pumps and improved sanitation units in schools in order to decrease the health risk posed by unclean drinking water and poor sanitation. This also helps to increase student performance and lower absenteeism amongst students. We also carry out repairs and improvements to existing facilities if necessary.
MaD runs Garbage Days in schools that it supports, where its team works with the students for one day to completely tidy up all the rubbish in their school, introduce new waste management systems and educate children about the potential dangers that excessive refuse pose to human health and about the importance of looking after their environment and disposing of waste properly. From then on, schools are encouraged to have weekly Tidy Up days where all litter is collected and adequately disposed of.
Repairs, refurbishments and decorating
MaD’s team carries out repairs to school buildings wherever necessary and also performs refurbishments and decorating work in schools in order to provide staff and students with a school that they can feel proud of and want to keep returning to.
Where possible, MaD plants vegetables and fruits in school grounds that can be used to feed staff and students. We have also partnered with the World Food Program in the past in order to provide school meals to students and staff. This not only contributes to good nutrition amongst students, but also acts as a good incentive for students to come to school each day.
MaD’s volunteers provide English lessons to students so that they can take advantage of the booming tourist industry in Siem Reap.
Medical check ups and health education
Through MaD’s Medical Program we provide regular medical check ups and treatment to teachers and students at schools which we support. We also provide all students and staff with worming tablets every three months in order to ensure that parasites do not affect their education.
Health and hygiene education is a particularly important feature of our School Medical Program. After each school clinic we dedicate around half an hour to educating children about important issues in health and hygiene. We also offer more advanced training to teachers so that they can continue our work when we are not present. Such education can lead to lifelong good hygiene practice amongst students and can contribute to improving practices in the local community as well.
What has MaD achieved in this area?
RICE Orphanage/School: Puok District - 29 students (Jan 2008 – Apr 2008)
WFC Orphanage: Puok District - 34 children (May 2008- Nov 2008)
O’Rum Chek School: Varin District - 140 students (Apr 2008 – Jan 2010)
Mor Mingh School: Bakong District – 150 students (Jan 2009 – present)
2010 – present
Prey Chrouk gets 75 new trees – July 2008
How can I help?
We are currently seeking out professionally trained teachers who would be able to volunteer with us on a long-term basis in order to strengthen this program and help to improve the schools which we work at. If this is you, please get in touch!
Short-term volunteers can also participate in this program, by teaching English, providing medical assistance or by helping with school refurbishments and installing/repairing pumps and sanitation units. If any of these interest you, please apply through our vMaD website.
Donations to our School Support Program are also greatly appreciated. We can only provide as much assistance to schools as our funding allows, and so if you can help us expand this work we would very grateful.
If you are coming to Cambodia and would like to donate some school supplies to our project this is also much appreciated. However, think twice before buying them abroad as they are often much cheaper in Cambodia and so we would be able to buy much more with the same amount of money here!
What your money buys:
$80 – pays for enough uniforms for 10 students
$50 – pays for school bags for 10 students
$10 – pays for 10 English language books
$50 – pays for a decent bicycle which we can donate to a student who has to travel long distances each day to get to school
$30 – will provide enough garbage bins for a school with 6 classrooms (the average size in Cambodia)
$56 – pays for the installation of a fire pit, which can effectively and safely dispose of rubbish at a school where there is no garbage collection
$50 – pays for enough head lice treatment for 100 students
$20 – pays for 120 oral hygiene starter kits (toothbrush and toothpaste)
$67 - pays for 400 Melbandazole tablets, enough to keep 100 students free from intestinal parasites for one year
$280 – pays for a brand new UNICEF water pump to be installed at a school, providing staff and students with access to clean water
$480 – pays for the installation of an ablution block, greatly contributing to improving sanitation standards at a school
$450 – pays for one cubic metre of quality timber, enough to carry out a decent amount of repairs to school buildings
MaD Kids Foster Home
"While we try to teach our children all about life, Our children teach us what life is all about." - Angela Schwindt
To provide 8 unfortunate orphans with a home, a family and a safe haven. To give them the fun and enriching childhood they deserve, and send them out into the world as young adults ready to prosper.
Why is it necessary?
Cambodia has an unusually large amount of orphans even for a developing country - one of the many scars of decades of war & conflict which have plagued this beautiful Country. When children are orphaned sometimes they are cared for by the local community, but all too often they are taken in and used as a form of slave labour, as has been the case with many orphans, who are living in a state of servitude to the local community.
We had initially planned to construct an orphanage in a nearby community. However, after promises of funding were withdrawn, we were forced to abandon the project – and we became the legal guardians of eight kids. (Click here for history behind the creation of the MaD Foster Home)
Did you know:
So what does the MaD Foster Home do?
MaD’s founders are the legal custodians and proud foster parents of the MaD Kids. They are part of the family now – and the MaD team are fully committed to raising these children, and giving them the childhood they deserve. With the assistance of our Orphan Care and Teaching volunteers, the MaD foster home provides the MaD Kids with:
Ongoing Care - we ensure that all children adhere to high standards of personal hygiene, and that they are provided with clothing, a nutritious & varied diet, a safe and comfortable place to sleep and medical care. In addition, each child receives individual care and attention to their physical and emotional needs.
Education - we fund the education of each child at the neighbouring primary school, and provide vocational training in a wide range of skills such as farming, weaving, marketing, IT and business management. All children receive extra English language tuition from our international volunteers, and are encouraged to express themselves through art, music and dance.
Personal development - We aim to take the kids on regular outings, both to help them make up for the lost years in their lives and so they can see more of their beautiful Country. This includes places like the legendary Temple of Angkor Wat and the related museums which teach them about their National history. Swimming is their favourite past time, and they all look forward to the monthly visit to the pool.
The MaD Foster Home is fully supported by the Authorities and the Community. We are now the legal custodians of these children the local community are 100% behind us. In addition, we have written permission from every relevant provincial ministry and are a Cambodian registered NGO. MaD and the Ministry of Child Welfare in Phnom Penh have recently entered in to an agreement of co-operation and support which sees MaD being recognised at National levels for the work we do and especially for the MaD House Foster home.
What has the MaD Foster Home achieved?
We have being caring for 8 children since April 2009. Please read the blog entries below for information on the progress they are making with MaD.
Gigi’s MaD Kids Blog – September 2009
Trying new foods – May 2009
MaD Kids Foster Home up and running! – April 2009
How can I help?
We are always in need of volunteers to help us look after the MaD Kids, take them on outings, teach them arts, crafts and other skills, organise games and activities and give them lots of love and TLC. If you’d like to join us as a volunteer, you can do so on the vMaD Orphan Care and Teaching Program.
If you are visiting Cambodia with a half empty suitcase, please do get in contact as there may be useful items you can bring from home that are difficult for us to find in Cambodia. However, PLEASE be sure to contact us first, as many items such as old children’s clothes are simply not needed!
Alternatively, you can make a donation – it isn’t cheap to look after eight children, and any pledges of support will go a long way! We do not currently offer any opportunities to formally sponsor the MaD Kids, but we would be grateful to receive any pledges of long term financial support.
“A house is a home when it shelters the body and comforts the soul” – Phillip Moffitt
To provide tailored assistance to rural families who are in need of support to create a hygienic, safe and sustainable living environment.
Why does habitat matter?
Not having a roof over your head is, alongside inadequate food and water, one of the most basic elements of most working definitions of absolute poverty. Without a hygienic and safe place to live, people are more susceptible to serious health problems, and their quality of life is severely reduced as they are exposed to the harshness of the elements with no place for retreat.
By helping families to create a safe and hygienic place to call home we will help to reduce health problems, minimise the threat posed by extreme weather, greatly improve their standards of living and increase their capacities to develop in other areas.
Did you know...
What does MaD do?
Habitat construction is targeted primarily at the poorest families of the communities that we work with, especially those who have suffered greatly from death or disease, as there is little hope that such families could ever build decent houses on their own without external financial assistance.
MaD constructs safe, strong and durable houses for such families. MaD’s houses have concrete or stone foundations and are built with strong, quality timber, with corrugated iron or thatched roofs and timber or palm thatched walls. We also provide support to households with their gardens and any other surrounding areas. We give them assistance in planting vegetables, fruit and trees and training them in how to create ideal environments in which they can grow successfully.
Habitat repairs and refurbishments
MaD assists families with poor quality houses with repairs and refurbishments that they otherwise could have afforded. Our first priorities are providing assistance to families whose homes have deteriorated to such an extent that they now pose a health and safety hazard to the family. Typically, such support takes the form of repairing and refurbishing roofs, walls, floors and stairs.
As with habitat construction, we also provide assistance to other households with their surrounding living environments, such as allotments, chicken coops and other animal pens.
Housing advice and organisation
We provide advice on the organisation of small-holdings in order to minimise the risk that they can pose to human health. Simple advice and assistance on things such as keeping livestock away from where people sleep, moving manure to a compost heap and relocating pig pens away from water sources can make a huge difference in improving standards of living and reducing the proliferation of preventable diseases.
What has MaD achieved in this area:
2010- present (updated every month):
Case Studies & Reports:
How can I help?
Habitat work is primarily funded through volunteer placement fees from our Rural Community Development Volunteer Program. Volunteers pay a donation to the project that they will be w0rking on as part of their placement fee and then work alongside the local community to get the job done. The local community help with labour and materials - and it always proves to be a fun few weeks for everyone. If you are interested in volunteering with the RCD program, please visit out vMaD website.
If you are unable to visit Cambodia in order to work on this project but still want to make a difference, consider making a donation to MaD. Building a home from scratch is the single most expensive investment that MaD can make in the communities that we work with, and we are unable to provide many without financial assistance!
What your money buys:
$2,000 – pays for a new house for a family
$100 – pays for a thatch roof
$200 – pays for a corrugated iron roof
$450 – pays for one cubic metre of quality timber, enough to carry out a decent amount of repairs to houses
Community English Classes
"If you find yourself saying 'But I can't speak English...', try adding the word '...yet” - Jane Revell & Susan Norman
To provide an opportunity for children in rural communities to learn, develop and practice their English skills.
Why does English matter?
English is increasingly recognized as a universal language. It is essential to be able to speak English when interacting with people of different ethnicities, even if they are not English themselves.
This is especially important for people who live in locations outside of the West whose economies are heavily dependent on tourism. Siem Reap provides a prime example of the benefits of being able to speak English in such locations. English is a useful tool to any of those who want to later get a job, especially in the Siem Reap area. As one of the most popular tourist destinations in Asia, with millions of visitors each year, the employment opportunities for those locals who are able to speak English are much greater then those who have never learned. A Cambodian who can effectively communicate with people from western cultures are far more capable of taking advantage of the opportunities that a booming tourist industry can bring.
However, English classes are still not a compulsory part of the formal curriculum in Cambodia and so many Cambodians are never offered the chance to learn English. This is particularly problematic for children in rural areas, who often have no contact with Westerners and therefore have no other opportunities to learn English outside of school. With no English skills, it becomes very difficult for such children to take advantage of the lucrative employment opportunities offered by the tourist hub of Siem Reap.
What does MaD do?
Six days a week MaD provides an hour of English education for any children from the local community who want to learn. We have a basic English classroom at the back of the MaD House where we provide a place for free and structured education and the chance to enhance the lives of those who wish and are willing to give it a try.
We teach the basics of English communication, so they can not only talk to us but can practice with each other and any other English speakers that they come across. If they enjoy their classes they often bring their friends along with them to learn so they have more people to practice with outside of the classroom. Students are also taught how to read and write in English, giving them well-rounded and comprehensive English language skills.
We take time with each of the individual children and try to make the class meet all of their needs and different levels. Those who are new learn the alphabet and their names, and other essential basics.Those who have been coming for extended periods of time can continue on expanding their vocabulary and can help teach the struggling or new students what they have learned.When a child can teach another what he or she has learned so far, it provides the opportunity for them to review and relearn and gives them a chance to shine.
Positive interaction with kids of the community
We provide a place for children to come and often have their first interaction with westerners. We set a positive example and a fun environment for them to expand their views and learn from our volunteers.We not only focus on new vocabulary and grammar skills during English classes, but we try to givethem understanding and a fun, unique time by incorporating games and other techniques to keep them actively involved in each of the classes.
What has MaD achieved with this program?
At our school at the MaD House in the Bakong Commune we have a regular class of around 15 students, ranging from aged 8 to 18, and this number is growing as the children tell their friends about the class and encourage them to attend. The levels vary, with some only just getting to grips with the alphabet and others capable of holding a basic conversation. However, they are all making great progress and so far have aced all the tests we have given them! Please read the blogs below for further information:
How can I help?
MaD is always looking for new volunteers who work well with children and are eager to teach them what they know, and learn from them in return. If this sounds like you, the vMaD English program may be the right fit for you.
M.A.D. Medical Assistance Direct
“He who has health, has hope. And he who has hope, has everything” Arabian Proverb
To provide a basic healthcare services to schools, orphanages and village communities in rural areas of Siem Reap Province, focusing on health education, basic treatment & referrals, and the tackling of intestinal worms.
Why does primary healthcare matter?
Good quality healthcare access in rural areas of Siem Reap Province is extremely limited. With healthcare facilities geographically focused along paved roads and population centres, the informal fees charged for access to healthcare, and the low incomes of people in rural areas, they are often deprived of access to decent healthcare facilities. Knowledge and awareness of issues related to health and hygiene amongst Cambodia’s rural population are also low, and play a key role in holding back developments in the health of rural communities. Without access to decent healthcare services, rural Cambodians are suffering, especially children.
Did you know…
What does MaD do?
Utilising a custom built Tuk Tuk as a mobile health clinic, we set up clinics at local schools, orphanages and villages in order to provide communities with access to basic healthcare services. The focus of our medical program is predominantly on school children; however our village clinics enable us to expand our reach to the elderly, infants and the middle aged, as well as to any children that may not be attending school for whatever reason. Our clinics are run on an ongoing cycle in order to ensure that each location receives regular check ups. In addition, we also run a 24 hour walk-in clinic for the local community at the MaD House. The medical team consists of a permanent Khmer medical project manager, who is supported and given ongoing medical training through a constant influx of medical volunteers.
At each clinic we offer the following services:
Treatment & referrals
MaD provides treatment to all those who we have the capacity to treat. When we encounter more serious cases or when we suspect patients to be suffering from serious diseases such as malaria, pneumonia, dengue, TB or cancer we refer them to the hospital in town and, when necessary, organise and pay for transport to take them there. This system helps to relieve the strain on limited healthcare services by acting as a screening service, preventing people who do not need the service from wasting their and the hospital’s time and money by using it, and prompting those who do need advanced medical treatment to seek assistance sooner.
The types of treatments that our project offers include:
Whenever and wherever possible, we try to dedicate at least the last half an hour of each clinic we do (morning and afternoon) on health education. This is a particularly important aspect of our school clinics. We provide education on a broad range of issues, primarily those identified by the ‘Health Sector Strategic Plan 2003-2007’: bed-net use; good hygiene and sanitation; nutrition and healthy diets; alcohol, drugs and tobacco; sexually transmitted infections; HIV/AIDS; eye care; safe drinking water and food safety; national immunization programmes and Vitamin A, iron, folate and iodine supplementation.
We also offer health education/advice on a patient-by-patient basis, especially if it is clear that the advice given to one patient would benefit the lives of numerous people, as would be the case with mothers, heads of households and teachers.
Tackling Intestinal Worms:
We provide worming tablets to all those at each clinic every three months. Intestinal worms are common place in rural Cambodia and are extremely detrimental to health & growth. De-worming is a cost effective and relatively simple method of helping make Cambodian people healthier.
What has MaD achieved in this area?
Our village clinic service started in August 2008 and since then we have built up our project so that we now set up clinics in 12 different villages on a regular basis, servicing around 30 villages in total.
Our school clinic service commenced in January 2009 and we are currently providing 12 schools and 5 orphanages in and around Siem Reap with regular medical check ups. The number of students at each school ranges from 60 to over 600.
From January 2009 – January 2010 we distributed 9000 worming tablets at our clinics.
Case Studies & Reports
M.A.D changing lives in Bakong District – Report from US medical volunteer – September 2009
‘Nurse, nurse! Come quick’ - Report from Australian medical volunteer – August 2008
How can I help?
If you are a professional in medicine or nursing (including paramedics) then you can volunteer on this project, through the vMaD Medical & Nursing Program.
If you work for or have contacts in a medical or pharmaceutical company, we urgently require medicines and medical supplies. Alternatively, if you are visiting Siem Reap, Cambodia and have a half empty suitcase, if you could purchase some supplies and bring them with you it would be hugely appreciated.Contact us for more information and a list of medical items that we need.
Alternatively, you can make a donation - this is our most expensive project because of all the medical equipment and supplies involved and we urgently need financial support.
What your money buys...
Below is an indication of what your money buys. Exact prices vary, as do needs and priorities, so we try to avoid promising that donations will be spent on specific products.Whilst the unit prices listed below may seem relatively cheap, bear in mind that we generally treat over a thousand patients each month!
$15 – pays for us to transport a severely ill patient to hospital in Siem Reap Town.
$25 – pays for a bottle of Opsite which can effectively treat around 50 wounds that have already, or could easily become, infected.
$42 – pays for a box of sterile bandage dressing, enough to dress approximately 200 wounds and prevent them from becoming infected.
$60 – pays for 1000 multivitamin tablets that can treat patients with nutritional problems and help speed up their recovery from wounds and ailments.
$68 – pays for 400 Melbandazole tablets, enough to keep 100 patients free from intestinal parasites for a year.
$100 – pays for 1000 oral rehydration sachets, which can often prove to be lifesavers for patients suffering from diarrhoea.
$250 – pays for a Cambodia medical nurse to work on the project for 1 month.