05 December 2009

Cambodia - please give generously

We at Visa Services Canada support a charity in Cambodia, and we want to share this charity with you in the hope you will help.

Every year VSC gives a few tonnes of rice to the LIFE AND HOPE ASSOCIATION. The rice is purchased locally in Cambodia, so the money goes to rice farmers and local producers, as well as the food going to needy locals.

The LIFE AND HOPE ASSOCIATION in Siem Reap (the home of Angkor Wat) Cambodia is a non-profit, non-governmental and non-political organization, established in 2005 by the Young Monks of Wat Damnak, Young Khmer Youths and generous friends. These people saw the urgent needs of orphans, vulnerable children, poor children, street Children, (also called Rubbish Children and beggar children) etc, who are living miserable lives. LHA is dedicated and committed to alleviate the poverty and ignorance of Cambodians and to encourage their equal treatment in Cambodian society by providing physical and moral support.

LHA works with several active villages in and surrounding the Siem Reap and Bakong District, with aim to alleviate poverty/difficulty of poor families, especially Cambodian Children by supporting them with basic needs such as foods, clothing, school supplies, health services, education, accommodation etc.

To see their organization and works, please visit their website here:
Life and Hope
Wat Damnak/LHA

LHA is run by the Venerable Hoeurn Somnieng. Somnieng (pronounced "som-nyang") is a 31 year old senior Buddhist monk who has become something of a celebrity. You can see him and the work of LHA on YouTube.com

If you are visiting Angkor Wat, and staying in Siem Reap, why not visit our monk, Somnieng, and have him show you what they do for the vulnerable and poor. LHA is located in Wat Damnak in Salakomreuk Commune, Siem Reap/Angkor. Practically, this means they are just the other side of the river from old town (the tourist centre) of Siem Reap. In fact, Somnieng is probably only a 15 minute walk away from your hotel. You can call Somnieng at Tel: (855)92 929 962, or email him at somnieng2002@yahoo.com

All of the money you give goes to the works of the charity. We at VSC have seen with our own eyes that the money is spent directly on the works and food, and not on the charity itself.

A tonne of rice, grown and bought locally in Siem Reap, costs about $250. This is distributed by the monks to needy families and vulnerable children. Without the provision of the basic food, many would starve, and none would go to school.

LHA divided food support groups into two kinds:
1: Very poor children and disabled people, which costs $5 per month per person, and provides 17kg of rice, 2 bottles of soy sauce and 2 tins of canned fish.
2: Special very poor children who could not go to school at all without LHA support, which costs $18 per month. This includes 35–50kg of rice, 10 bottles of soy sauce, 10 tins of canned fish, 1kg of oil, 1kg of salt, and other items.

Maybe giving food or rice isn't your style of giving. Perhaps you think charity would be better directed to education or housing. LHA has a number of projects to suit every taste in giving.

$1000 buys a wooden-house, 4.5m x 5.30m, for unfortunate families. The family and the monks build the house in 2-3 days.

Send a child or adult to school. Education is the road out of poverty.
Childhood Education:
$40 a year (primary school children)
$75 a year (grade 7 – 9)
Adult Education:
$125 a year (grade 9 – 12)
$425 a year (University)

Having the tools to go to school is important, and this cost $9 per year per child. It includes a school uniform, school bag, school-books, two pens, pencil, erasers, sharpener, pencil-case, drawing paper, colour pencils, ruler, and other items.

Sewing is an extremely important aspect of the Cambodian economy, both formal and informal. Learning to sew can mean a person can secure a regular job, and will have a skill other than rice farming. LHA runs a training centre, and can always use sponsors, or even the money for a new sewing machine.

We at VSC urge you to give generously to LHA. They are really working hard to improve the lives of so many needy people who often live on less than $2. per day.

Ven. Hoeurn Somnieng, Executive Director
Life and Hope Association
Wat Damnak 0211 (Buddhist Temple)
Wat Damnak Village, Salakomreuk Commune
Siem Reap, Angkor Province, Cambodia