I met with Mr. Sokha, Founder of CCH who made PIFP's visit fit to the kid's busy schedule. The next day I had a chance to visit Steung Mean Chey landfill outside of Phnom Penh This was also an experience I will never forget.
There are no documentaries or pictures that can truly convey what it was like to be there. The odor, sounds of trucks coming and dumping trash...the sound of kids laughing despite all that was going on around them. In the few years of humanitarian labor I have been involved in, I have NEVER seen ANYTHING like this, to think that there are places around the world that are worst than Steung Mean Chey is hard to believe. For the first time in a while, I felt such an immense sense of frustration knowing that we were able to ONLY rescue one child
The visit was not long, as hard as it was to walk around the dump site for an hour; it was harder to understand how these little souls can stand to grow up in such an uninhabitable place. In moments like these, it is difficult to grasp the concept of making a difference "just" one soul at a time. Remaining focused had to be a priority, also seeing and feeling the outpouring of love from the CCH children, reminded me that one little soul at a time does work!
The frustration went away within the next few days, as I followed the children from CCH during their activities. Saturday after school was one of the many memorable moments as the CCH children were informed that a "visitor" (PIFP) from America was taking ALL 150 children out to dinner and the fair. Yes, 150 kids were ecstatic to know that the outing would also include ice cream! (a luxury for these kids). The ENERGY that 150 kids can generate from feeling blessed and truly happy can honestly "move mountains"
Another one of those moments was the very next day when I followed them on their "road trip" as they visited a nearby village to do an educational play for other children. Here is where I met Vuthy Nou a fellow humanitarian who had been teaching children in a small community because there were no schools nearby and children were not getting an education. Among these children was a very special 14 year old disabled boy named Piseth, who was not only literally dragging his feet on a make shift wheelchair, but who had also lost his father and sister to AIDS and his mother was also dying of AIDS. With only his grandmother to care for him, his life is full of challenges.
The children from CCH brought a sack of rice to give to Piseth and his family after their play. While visiting at his precarious house we had the chance to speak to him. He was very shy and did not want us to see his mother as she was very ill. When we asked him if he needed anything other than the rice he couldn't think of anything else he would need. That is when we realized that a more suitable wheelchair would really help improve his life! After talking to Vuthy and other visitors we drove him to a nearby institution that Vuthy had seen a few times when driving by and knew that we could purchase a new wheelchair for approximately $50
Much to our surprise, when we arrived at the rehabilitation center, we found out that Piseth qualified to receive a FREE wheelchair! This would teach us all the power of action and just getting involved, no money was needed to change the life of this14 year old. Seeing Piseth in his new wheelchair helped reinforce the fact that lack of money should never be a reason for lack of action. Since the wheelchair was free, PIFP donated $150 to start a small library for the kids in the village where Piseth lives
Finally, let me introduce you to the little soul we were able to help during our visit to CCH. Her name is Channy, she is a 4 year old whose dream is to be a teacher, and her favorite foods are fresh vegetables and fruits. She was rescued last July from garbage picking at the dump. When I found out that there was no one to pay for her to continue her stay at CCH I knew that PIFP had to step in and help her, so we did. PIFP committed to pay $700 per year until she turns 18 years old in order for Channy to have the life that she deserves.
To think that it only takes $1.91 per day to change Channy's life, only reinforces the fact that lack of money should never be a reason for lack of action.
Thank you for taking the time to read how Pay It Forward Project is making a difference ONE little soul at a time