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Cambodia Tomorrow Newsletter -- September 2006


Cambodia Tomorrow Newsletter -- September 2006

Helping Cambodia's Children Achieve a Brighter Future

In This Issue

Cham Chao Closes

Sponsors Sheila and Gary Pompan Visit Kompong Speu

University Project News

What's New at Kompong Speu

Board News

Sponsors Needed for 2 Older Boys

Dear Friends:

We hope that you all had a wonderful summer with family and friends. Now, it's back to school and back to work. We hope that you will read our newsletter with updates on the Kompong Speu English School Project, the University Project and the closure of Cham Chao orphanage. We are also looking for new sponsors for two very special boys in the English School.

Thank you for keeping the children of Cambodia in your hearts and best wishes to you and your family,

Scott Nichols, President

Cambodia Tomorrow

Board of Directors

Jane Cramer, Melanie Curtright, Elizabeth Gullam, Kathleen Hart- Zavoli, Catherine MacNeal, Michelle Moon, Sheila Pompan, Kathy Rafferty, and John Stavig

CAMBODIA TOMORROW||1515 Madrona Drive||Seattle||Washington||98122


Cham Chao Closes

On June 30, 2006, Chim Naly closed the Women and Children's Vocational Center (known to many of you as Cham Chao orphanage). Cambodia Tomorrow had been supporting the children living there for a number of years with medical care, basic needs and Future Hope preschool. We thank everyone for their generous contributions to make this support possible.

The six wonderful children living at the orphanage when it closed are in new homes. Two of the children were adopted by their respective nannies. The remaining four children are now living at the Palm Tree Foundation (seen here with CamTom and PTF staff). Our thanks to PTF and Friends of Cambodian Children for their generosity in accepting the children. Ken, Cambodia Tomorrow's manager in Cambodia, is making sure that the children are adjusting well to their new home.

Cambodia Tomorrow established a transition plan that further assisted the children. During July and August both the English and Khmer preschool teachers continued to conduct classes for all of the preschool children at PTF.

Cambodia Tomorrow asked Dr. Moniboth to continue his weekly visits for two months to the four children for Cham Chao to transition medical care. Two of the children have developmental delays and the other two have special medical needs. Dr. Moniboth helped the staff with medication dispensing, hygiene training for the two children with delays and monitoring of the medical conditions of the other two children.

Thank you again to everyone who supported the Cham Chao children and Future Hope School. Though the doors have closed, our little preschool had a significant positive impact on the lives of the children living at and around the orphanage.

Sponsors Sheila and Gary Pompan Visit Kompong Speu

My husband and I had been planning weeks, months for this trip. Our office was filled with gifts and letters from sponsors, and supplies that we thought they could use. The night before we had our hotel put together individual lunch bags for each child, which included a sandwich, cut into fours, one apple, one banana, water and a muffin.

The following morning we began our journey to Kompong Speu. When our car turned into KS orphanage, we were graciously met by orphanage director Pol Sok Ly. We didn't expect such a warm and friendly welcome. She looked directly into my eyes, thanked us for coming and gave me a hug! Warm, sincere and genuine; that describes the Khmer people. The anticipation of seeing Pheary, the child I'm sponsoring, was beyond any feeling that I've experienced. One by one and in clusters, wide eyes and bright smiles, looks of uncertainty and curiosity greeted us. And then, there she was, holding one of the smaller children with two other little ones at her side. She looked at me-I gasped-I think I may have frightened her a bit, I spoke her name and she shyly smiled with the little one still in her arms and then the little one smiled also.

I hardly remember how I got inside, I think Mrs. Pol escorted me inside and continued to thank us for coming and bringing the items. I wanted to connect with my sponsored child, yet I could see she was a little reserved. I decided that the best way to warm up to her was to have her help me distribute the elastic necklaces with a flower charm on each one to all of the girls. It was a good way to begin to connect to one another. We still needed some getting to know you time, so I decided to give them a sample of American tap dance. (I am a retired professional dancer, primarily musicals) What I didn't expect was their musical ability and how they began to rhythmically clap with my taps. They were a gracious audience and when I finished, they applauded and then the older boys began to play traditional Khmer music. It was a glorious exchange of cultures. Then the Cambodian dance performance began. I kept smiling at my sponsored child and she in return did the same. For the second dance I sat next to her and gave her a baggy of barrettes, hair twisties and butterfly clips. She immediately put two of the sparkly ones in her hair. She took my hand and in English she said, "You and me". I smiled at hearing her voice for the first time and repeated back, "Yes, you and me". She wanted to open more of the hair twisties. Not sure what to do with them, I showed her. She quickly began to put them in the other girls’ hair.

After the performances, she showed me where she sleeps. Each home has a nanny to whom she introduced me. She shares a room with two other girls near her age. She took out a little box and inside was everything I had ever sent her, from the very first letter and gift to the most recent. She even had a photo album with pictures that I had sent her. She also had two framed pictures of our family members on her shared dresser area. I was relieved to see that she had received every item I had sent her. It confirmed my confidence in Cambodia Tomorrow and the efforts of Catherine, Scott and the Board. I was pleasantly taken off guard when she was able to read the books I gave her, recite the flash cards and recite some of her times tables. In addition, she correctly read a poem I gave her. I never expected her reading skills to be at the level they appeared to be.

She gave me a tour of the kitchen, where they wash their clothes, where they play. They seemed to enjoy cutting and pasting pictures of themselves into scenic backgrounds like waterfalls and mountains. Any educational books, or paper dolls seem to be favored over toys. It's important not to overlook the age of the child you’re sponsoring when sending over items. Basic level phonic and reading books with pictures are useful as many of them want to use their English skills. My sponsored child and I exchanged as much as you can in such a short amount of time. I brought along a letter she had written and showed it to her. She was happy to see it and said something in Khmer. We even exchanged earrings!

Overall, the children seem to adapt very well. There is a level of maturity that is beyond each of their years. Everyone appeared healthy and their bright smiles were contagious.

As I reflect on Kompong Speu and all the children of Cambodia, I think about how much happiness they spread to each other and to those they have never met. Like all of us who sponsor them. I am so grateful to have had this opportunity, and to have found Cambodia Tomorrow. Thanks again to Cathy, whose honesty and sincerity in the documentary from Adoption Stories inspired me and lead me to Cambodia Tomorrow. She was responsive to my very first email inquiry. To Scott and all of the board for the continued work that they are doing. In the words from my sponsored child, "I wish you to have good health, happiness, peacefulness and luck, all of the time".

Sok Sobay!

Sheila Pompan

University Project News

We are delighted to announce that Kim Srouch has passed his government exam and will start his university study in October. Srouch will study business at the National University of Management. He joins Prum Rim, Sok Neardey and Um Vanndeth who will begin their sophomore year next month.

In the coming years, we anticipate that more students from Kompong Speu will complete high school and pass the entrance exam for university. This year we have begun to build a scholarship fund for those students who qualify. We hope that sponsors will consider funding the child they sponsor for English School, should they desire a college education. Currently, university sponsorships are $1000 annually, which includes tuition, housing and other expenses. As we receive the list of eligible children, we will contact sponsors to help make a plan for higher education.

What's New at Kompong Speu

Kompong Speu orphanage director Pol Sok Ly expects to have 20 new children assigned to the orphan center this year. We at Cambodia Tomorrow are committed to finding sponsors for them all. If you know anyone in your family or circle of friends who would like to sponsor, please let us know – we’re compiling a list of potential sponsors so that we will be prepared for the new arrivals. Contact Catherine MacNeal at cmacneal@cambodiatomorrow.org and she’ll be happy to send out a brochure and newsletter to prospective sponsors.

We have 60 children studying English and 12 students taking computer classes at Newtown School.

In August, Cambodia Tomorrow funded an overnight beach trip for the orphanage. Our goal is to fund two field trips per year. This month we purchased new uniforms for all the students – the second set for the year.

New Board member and sponsor Sheila Pompan visited Kompong Speu in June and wrote an account of her visit (in this newsletter) and meeting the child she sponsors. She and her husband took wonderful photos, carried over letters and gifts and brought letters back to the States from the children. Thank you Sheila and Gary.

There will be more opportunities to write the child you sponsor. We have three sponsor families traveling to Cambodia this winter. We will be contacting you shortly to encourage you to write to your child. We will also circulate a list of needed items.

Cambodia Tomorrow is just one of the organizations working to improve the lives of the children at Kompong Speu. We would like to acknowledge our fellow non-profits who play an integral part in the operation of Kompong Speu Orphan Center. They are:

Enfants D’Asie Aspeca: www.aspeca.com

The Sharing Foundation: www.thesharingfoundation.com

Global Children: www.globalchildren.com

Board News

We've had a few changes to the board this summer. Tim von Hermann resigned his position due to significant time restrictions. We are very grateful to Tim and his family for their generous support of Cambodia Tomorrow. Tiara Delgado also left the Board to move to Cambodia to continue her documentary film project. We wish her the best for this exciting venture.

We delighted to welcome three new Board members - Sheila Pompan, Elizabeth Gullam and Michelle Moon. Sheila is a Kompong Speu sponsor with great enthusiasm and expertise. Elizabeth returns to the Board after a hiatus. Elizabeth was the architect of our initial support of the children living at Cham Chao. Michelle is a longtime supporter and a member of the committee that created Future Hope School.

Sponsors Needed for 2 Older Boys

Kosal and Veth have been part of our English School Project for the past three years- prior to that, they attended English classes at the Palm Tree Foundation. They are both outstanding students and can converse and write well in English.

We are seeking sponsors for these two remarkable young men as they enter their junior year of high school. Veth and Kosal will be taking their government exams in the summer of 2008. Our hope is that both of them will be eligible for our university program. Veth’s brother Rim is beginning his sophomore year at university.

The commitment for each boy will be two years of English School at $340.00 per year and four years of university at $1000.00 per year beginning in October 2008. Veth and Kosal are hard-working and dedicated students who will benefit greatly from a university education to add to their skill in English. We would be delighted to tell them that a scholarship is waiting, should they succeed in their examinations. For those seeking a meaningful correspondence with a student in Cambodia, both boys have been our top letter writers and pen pals.

If you have any questions or would like further information, please contact Catherine MacNeal at cmacneal@cambodiatomorrow.org

2006 Sep 1