Sunday, May 31, 2009

Orphans & Disabled Arts Association

I was getting antsy for some volunteer work and heard about a café called The Singing Tree that doubled as a pseudo community center. The owner’s name was Michael and he created this oasis based on his time in Byron Bay, Australia. It was a wonderful outdoor café and soon I met some people seeking volunteers for a local orphanage.

Orphans & Disabled Arts Association (ODA) was a grassroots NGO founded by Leng Touch in 2003. He was an orphan himself because of the Khmer Rouge and decided to commit his life to helping other orphans. Him and his wife ran a residential orphanage of about 15 kids. This just meant that they lived with the children. Another uniqueness about this orphanage was that even though the children technically were adoptable it rarely ever happened and they were more like a big family.

Leng was an accomplished artist and valued education for the children above all else. He even taught them different types of Art and the children were amazing artists. One of the many issues they faced was that the sole income of the orphanage was the paintings Leng sold to the tourists. It took about $13US/day to feel everyone. On top of food he had to then budget the money for other basic necessities like coal for cooking, diesel for the generator (there was no electricity out there), and other things. This was definitely the grassroots NGO I were looking for to help.

I began by renting bicycles to ride the 15Km out to the orphanage everyday. Unfortunately for me the only time to go there was the hottest part of the day. In spite of this, every time I rode to the orphanage all the kids were so happy that they greeted me with the traditional prayer and bow. As I started to get organized I began meeting other people and planned an art exhibition for the children’s paintings.

There was a lot to do in two weeks, but I was determined to make it a success. I concentrated on the documentation and computer stuff. Also, Michael at the Singing Tree Café had agreed to have the Art Exhibition and make it a permanent one.

Here are the websites I created for ODA:



No comments:

Post a Comment