Visiting an orphanage in Asia seems like a simple thing. And it is, apparently too simple. Upon arriving in Cambodia, I have read many warnings about NOT visiting orphanages. In the last few years, some orphanages have been using the children as tourist attractions in order to make money. I of course was saddened by this, but knew there are also many legit orphanages, and hoped we would come across an opportunity to help one of those.
When we took our tuktuk to Angkor Wat, we talked a lot with our driver. He spoke excellent English, and even had his own website for his tuktuk. He kept talking about his children, so I asked him about them and it turned out that he lived and worked at an orphanage. The same one he himself was raised at. I jumped at the opportunity. The boys and I have had lots of free time lately, since Jarrett has been working at the hotel most of the day. I thought we could really get in some quality time with the children during the day. I asked our driver if we could visit and he said of course!
We made plans to go the next day. He picked the boys and I up, and we headed out of town to the orphanage. I asked him what the children need-clothes, toys, books, food, etc.? And he said, only rice. I said I would like to buy a bag, so he took me to a shop and we bought a 50 lb bag. I thought this was a great way to contribute, but when I went to buy the bag (after my driver talked at length with the seller in Khmer), I thought the price seemed a little high.
I have been asking around since this day, but cannot get a straight answer on how much a bag of rice costs here. I have since found out that there is a scam with rice and orphanages. I hope it is not true in this case. Apparently this is the oldest scam in the book, I even found it later in my Siem Reap tour guide book! It is called the “tuk tuk rice scam”. Oh my. Anyways, I guess tuk tuk drivers will have the rice guy over charge you and then the tuktuk driver gets the extra money, or in some cases they return the bag of rice for cash. Hopefully, it was not the case, and it was just more expensive than I thought. Even though it does not matter because we had such an awesome time with the children!
They showed us their rooms, and their school. The boys played basketball with them and on the playground. They seemed really happy, happier than most children we have seen here in Cambodia, so that was wonderful. They gave me flowers non-stop and pictures they drew, they were so precious. Here is some photos of our time with them!
Peyton writing his and Trek’s name on the bag of rice we bought for the children, they said they will email us when they open the bag:)
the rice seller, carrying our bag to the tuktuk
arriving at the orphanage
one of the workers (and our tuktuk driver) showing us the pot of rice from the children’s breakfast
this photo is kind of dark, but there is a water pump in the middle of the kitchen right behind this man. That is where the children take showers. They wear sarongs when they bathe.
the girl’s room and their bunk beds
our driver started a mushroom farm for the children to learn and to help feed them
the kids were so proud! and I was impressed
the boy’s room
Peyton and Conner playing basketball with the boys
Peyton and Conner did not want to leave! they had so much fun playing ball
the cute school house
their garden and their little clothes hanging on the lines
they showed me around their school and how they can sing the ABC’s
The two girls in the front were by my side the entire time, I had serious thoughts about keeping them. They were so sweet, and helpful to the other children.
Peyton showing them where we were from, they had never even seen the tiny speck of Hawaii on their world map
one of the many pictures they drew for us
the girls had a little shop where they sold these purses they made:) I picked out this teal and brown one.
The boys had the most fun of anyone I am sure, they have been asking to go back and play with the children, especially basketball:) It was a really special day.