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Nov 28: A Visit to Heart and Love Orphanage

Thursday, November 28th, 2013.

sunny 32 °C

28 Thursday

Breakfast on the terrace - so peaceful. Our 'breakfast included' is generous, and includes plenty of fresh fruit. We were greeted by Jasmine, and Eng who had started preparing food at 5 a.m. and a bit later we met up with Helen who had arranged for us to visit the "Heart and Love Orphanage". "Pastor", who also goes by Lasarus, 'cause he was raised from his former life of debauchery, arrived in a tuk-tuk to bring us to the orphanage. 20 minutes and a bumpy road later, we arrived there.
I met again with Deb, who had moved here from Australia with 2 of her children several months ago. She adds a practical dimension to the goings on at the orphanage, including the volunteering through "MyGapYear.com" She is resourceful, sensible and works behind the scenes as well as doing some of the teaching. While Danielle was shown around the orphanage, I watched some of her teaching and interactions with the kids, then as the morning classes were over, we talked at length.

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There were happy faces, even under the desks!

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I watched Deb teaching some of the children. She knows some Khmer, which helps, plus patience and humour, which helps even more.

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The children were keen to have a game of learning English: Who will be first to find the word that has been called out?

Break time allowed some fun. The other group had brought some treats, including balloons. Danielle dived in along with Eddy and others of his group and soon there were organized little lines of the kids, waiting for the "tom" (big) balloons. "Tom,tom tom!" until they would someties burst.

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Balloons were a treat brought by some of the visitors

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The children quickly lined up to have a balloon blown for themselves.

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Danielle happily took over. "Tom, tom, tom........" sometimes ended in a loud "BANG!"

A big pot of soup/stew was being cooked, and we were asked to stay. We were getting a bit worried about the time, as we were arranging a different tuk-tuk driver to bring us back to ACODO for our midday class.

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We were offered some lunch, and stood in the shade with the pastor and his wife.

My first class had 15 students. We followed the workbook exercised that they had expected, for the next hour. The kids were excited and energetic, which with the heat and humidity was a challenge. I taught the class while Danielle helped with a 5 year old student, Suvut, who had not yet learned to write English letters. Khmer writing looks like Indian script with curls and dots. Stickers for good work seemed to delight all of the students. The later classes had older students, many of whom I had taught in January. 'Teacha' sat in the back as I taught and was supportive. He sometimes answered a student in Khmer, which I think was to clarify a question.

The classes continued with smaller groups, as a number of the older students have left the orphanage. I would love to be able to contact some of the students who were very dear to me. In January, when I taught at ACODO, Bunling had been determined to improve his very adequate English, and we had spent an hour each lunchtime for the month going over pronunciation, meaning and usage of words. He is no longer at the orphanage, but he attends the New York School in Siem Reap, as do the ACODO children. I am glad that he is still in contact with other kids from ACODO, but I would love to be in touch.

Some hub-bub was developing outside of the orphanage, so kids and teachers went to look. Loud music and a procession. It turns out to have been a funeral procession. I wanted to watch along with the kids, but oh-my!, I had to act like an adult and shoe them back into the classroom. Danielle was free to watch at this time. She saw the group go along our road and then across a bridge, to the other side of the river. There they walked along the river bank and finally entered a temple.
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The procession moved stately along the other side of the river towards a temple.

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I hadn't noticed the temple. (There are so many). Danielle and I will investigate after our classes.

Five hours of classes straight is tougher than the earlier arrangement of 7 - 9 then a break in which I would go back for breakfast , 10 - 11, then four hours off in the heat of the day. I often spent that time hanging out with the students, watching dance practice or at the hotel by the pool or exploring the downtown or napping. The last classes ran 3 - 5. Once again small groups and some challenging English grammar: remember noun-phrases, compliment of a sentence, preposition, determinate and nondeterminate nouns? I remember that from studying French and Spanish, but with English, you just did it right 'cause it sounded right, and I would be corrected or teased at home if I didn't use perfect grammar!
We finished our classes and decided to stroll across bridge to have a look at the temple. The pictures speak for themselves.

Approaching the temple, we saw that it was grand and stately

Approaching the temple, we saw that it was grand and stately

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Danielle standing in front of the temple, gives you an idea of its size.

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The monks live in rooms behind the temple, and it appears that today is washday.

As we wandered around the grounds, I heard someone call my name. I looked over to see Sovy, a former student, leave a small group of people and hurry towards me. I was so pleased to see him and received a wonderful hug. He is teaching English to a group of around a dozen adults. I was introduced to his pupils and we said that we would meet and talk before I leave. He is also working as a waiter at "Geneveve's", where he is known as the 'Singing Waiter'. I had to release him back to his students. More about Sovy later.

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Wandering about these grounds led to a serendipidous meeting.

A quick trip back to the hotel, but no time for supper, and we returned to the orphanage. The dancing was done before a pitifully small audience. We sat in the front row below the stage lights. Danielle enjoyed seeing the kids that she had met during the day, in satin outfits doing very graceful and some playful dances - each one enacting a story of Khmer lore. Over the sound of the traditional instruments (some like a wooden xylaphone) was the buzz of the lights. I was being peppered with tiny bugs, that were stunned by the hot lights overhead. After several fell down my neck, we moved over to enjoy the rest of the show in peace. Danielle was treated to "The Monkey Dance" and to the "Fish Harvest Dance", as well as interspersed videos that tell the history and the aims of the orphanage. The hour went quickly, and as we left, we were escorted to the gates of the orphanage by enthusiastic children bidding us both "Goodnight"

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The students prepare to start the performance, using unusual musical instruments.

Time for the night life! We walked the 8 - 10 minutes into town from our hotel. As usual, it is busy and alive with sound of chatter, blues, eastern music and laughter, and exotic and unusual smells.We were tempted by offers. "Massage, Madam? Good price - only one dolla" (manicures for the $5) and" "Tuc-tuc*, Madam?" peppered the air. We strolled through the stalls, loaded with trinkets and some treats such as unusual spices and teas, chopsticks and sewn goods. The streets and walkways were quite busy, as many tourists meandered around. Smells of spicy foods, and the heat tempted us into an umbrellaed area that served cold draft beer for 50 cents. We enjoyed another stroll and exploring before we settled on a Mexican restaurant, where we had a small table right on the sidewalk. There we spent a leisurely hour eating and watching tourists ambling along, tuk tuk drivers waiting patiently for patrons and the general ebb and flow of the night. Before we headed home, we gave in to a "Fish Massage"

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No caption needed! The sign in the back says: "If our fish can't make you happy, we won't charge"

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Another fine day and a wonderful evening in Siem Reap!

Posted by Sue McNicholas 15:17 Archived in Cambodia

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