Rachel is a Geelong girl who was educated at St John’s Lutheran Primary School, Clonard College and is now studying 2nd Year Medicine at Monash University.  Rachel first visited the Kais Orphanage on a school trip (World Challenge) in 2010.
She has returned as a volunteer whenever able as she believes she is able to make a difference to the lives of the orphan kids.
Kais Village is located in the rural Cambodian town of Treng Trayoeung, in the province of Kampong Speu. It is about 86km out of Phnom Penh, about a two and a half hour journey from the capital. 
History of the orphanage and my involvement “Returning home after working with the UN in Somalia, Soung Santepheap (Sunny) was shocked again by the conditions he found in his home village in Kompong Thom Province in Cambodia.
Joined in 2002 by Karen Butler, KaisKids full time program director, initially Kais Kids provided support to needy families and orphanages in Kompong Thom, Kep and Mondolkiri.
Seeking a permanent home in which to provide comprehensive care, the Kais Village Community was founded in an old farmhouse that was refurbished for 20 children and staff. Situated in Treng Trayoeung village on 7 hectares of land, today the thriving community houses over 40 children and comprises a school, a nursery for our youngest children, accommodation for the older children, a large kitchen & dining room and a medical centre.”
It is now a registered charity in the UK with a board of trustees.
I first visited the orphanage on a school trip (World Challenge) in 2010. I returned and volunteered for five months in 2013, teaching English, kindergarten and basic hygiene practices.
Since then I have visited twice for a month in my university holidays.
Today the orphanage is home to over 40 kids, majority of which are under 10. We employ an onsitemanager, a number of nannies, a nurse, a cleaner, a farmer, a cook and a doctor who visits weekly from PP. English classes are run by volunteer’s onsite.
Majority of kids have been abandoned at a young age/birth. Older kids have been removed by social services due to cases such as domestic violence.
Onsite we have the old farmhouse which was the original home to the children. We now have a boys and a girl’s house for the older children, a nursery, kitchen and dining room and medical centre.
We also have a farmhouse and school with an attached guesthouse.
All funded by private/group/school donations, no financial support received from the government. In the past, adoptions occurred (currently closed) and many parents come back and support the orphanage financially.
Need of the orphanage
1. Day-to-day
2. Health
3. Education
Daily needs
* Food: about $35 for 50kg of rice, the orphanage used at least 8-10 per month
* Clothes: provided by donations
* Basic shelter/care
Premature and abandoned babies
* Majority of children abandoned in hospital, often as premature babies
* Majority have some form of disability, mental/physical, diagnosed/undiagnosed
Physical deformities
* Preap: Amniotic band syndrome, born with heavily disfigured face and cleft palate. Lived in hospital for first two years of his life. Has received surgery and will require more in the near future as he grows.
* Pok: “Congenital Ethmoidal Encephalocele” – brain tissue in the nose. Received surgery in Singapore – stayed there for 6 weeks.
Rare cases
* Srey Ya: Has now been diagnosed with Epidermolysis bullosa, rare skin condition where her skin blisters when touched. Was living on the hospital floor with no pain relief, malnourished and no adequately bandaged for first year of life.
Failure to thrive
* Srey Nath: diagnosed with “failure to thrive,” expected to only live a year. Is now 10, can feed herself and recently learnt to walk.
Recurrent infections
* Basic infections resulting from lack of hygiene etc. Impact on children’s development
* Children attend local Khmer classes in the village. Lots of difficulties with quality and quantity of teaching, low wages, bribery
* Older children now receive education in PP to increase their ability to go on to further education. All children regardless of age are assisted in further education training and job seeking.
Financial support ceases once they are employed in ongoing work
* English is taught onsite by volunteers.
Poverty in Cambodia
* Mo: broken back in questionable domestic incident aged 5/6, possibly pushed by father. Abandoned in hospital and trained by nurses to beg
* Alisa: child of blind beggars, abandoned in hospital aged 2. No muscle mass in legs as was carried, cleft palate (impacting speech and eating), uncontrolled asthma
* Regularly asked to be involved in other projects
* Sponsor two schools to provide Khmer education to hundreds of students
* Kampot HIV drop-in centre, support children with HIV
Further information available from http://www.kaiskids.org/site/
Many questions followed Rachel’s presentation showing the level of interest within our Rotary Club and endeavouring to ascertain how we may be able to help the Kais Kids Orphanage in the future.
At the end of Rachel’s presentation Pres. Judy presented a cheque for $200 in aid of the Kais Kids