The New Hope Children’s Home is situated on a piece of land on the outskirts of Poi Pet, a city which is depressed, poor and scruffy. It is run by Cheng Rostitus, a committed Christian who was brought up during the Pol Pot regime and survived its horrors. Due to his experiences he is determined to help the poor and disadvantaged children of the area. There is obviously an enormous need for orphanages, with less than 1% of the 600,000 orphaned children in Cambodia living in them. The less fortunate live a life of poverty on the streets, and are often lured into crime and prostitution at a very young age.
Rostitus opened the Home in 2012 and works there with his wife and small staff of dedicated workers. Trustees from MSAVLC visited the home in 2013, and were able to see for themselves the new development and meet the children. They visited the girls and boys homes which are separated by a dirt playing area. Both had a tiled living area which was empty except for a few small plastic stools, and each had two bedrooms, one for the little ones and one for the older children. There was also a small room off the dormitory, for the house parents. The small children slept up to four in a large bed and the older ones on floor mats. There were some clothes in baskets, one or two hand-coloured pictures on the walls, four little toy instruments and nothing else. The dining room was empty except for a table and a few plastic chairs, it still had a dirt floor and the walls were bare concrete blocks. Outside they were trying to develop their kitchen garden and were growing a few bananas, paw-paw trees, herbs and morning glory. There were two large ponds with a few fish in.
When financial help can be found, many improvements have to be made to the existing buildings. They are hoping to build toilets and showers adjoining the dormitories, as at present there is just one basic outside shower by the boy’s dormitory. There were only two toilets which were by the entrance to the land, a good 200 yards away, along an area of land that is flooded during the rainy season! The orphanage eventually hopes to cater for about 100 children. The youngest children are taught at the Home along with some of the neighbouring children, and the older ones attend school in one of the nearby villages.
MSAVLC sponsor two First Aid Clinics which are run by Rostitus, one at the New Hope Children’s Home, and one in the slum area of Poi Pet. The First Aid Clinics both take place on a Saturday and are attended by about 60 children. Wounds are cleansed and dressed, burns and abscesses treated and head lice eradicated. There is no hospital nearby and no free treatment is otherwise available. The Trustees attended both these first aid sessions, the first one in a barn at the Home where the land nearby had recently been cleared of landmines. The second took place outside a church, in a depressed area of Poi Pet. A wooden table was laid up with the first aid equipment, and chickens, dogs and children swarmed around. However, the sessions were efficiently run, and were obviously much needed. The Trustees were were very impressed by the efficiency and kindness shown to the children.
The children at the orphanage had no toys or games to play with, to provide them with physical and mental stimulation, and the Trustees were able to buy for them skipping ropes, Lego, footballs, tennis rackets, balls, dolls, farm animals and coloring books and pencils. They were received with amazement and delight, by both the children and the staff!
Since the Trustees visit it has been agreed by MSAVLC to fund the building of a shower and toilet block outside both of the dormitories and it is hoped that this work will be started at the end of the rainy season, in early 2014. We hope to continue our support for the New Hope Children’s Home into the future, and try to raise funds to continue the First Aid Project. If you can help, please give what you can to enable us to help these vulnerable children, and save them from a life of hardship and poverty.
The Children’s Home was revisited in 2015 by Trustees of MSAVLC. They were pleased to witness that the First Aid Project, sponsored by them, was still running successfully, and witnessed many children being treated. However the Children’s Home was facing problems due to staffing shortages and lack of funding, and a lot of equipment was broken and needing replacement. The children were sleeping on mats on the floor and had no mosquito nets.
The shower block funded by MSAVLC has been built, but a pipe had fractured and although the toilet was used, the children still had to wash in the kitchen, or sat on a chair with a bucket of water. Drinking water was collected from the ponds nearby and boiled in a pan on an open fire.
We were pleased to observe that the dining room floor had been tiled, an improvement from the dirt floor that was present on our last visit. Rostitus and his team grow rice, and are at present building a rice mill to provide food for the children, and they hope to earn an income from the mill by processing their neighbour’s rice. Unfortunately this year’s harvest was poor due to lack of rain. They also farm fish and chickens and grow some vegetables, papaya and banana trees.
The Trustees were pleased to distribute some toys to the children, which were happily received.
The Trustees of MSAVLC have since funded beds, mosquito nets, blankets, sleeping mats, storage boxes and a water filter for the Home, and were delighted to receive photos of the equipment being delivered.
The Trustees were hugely impressed by the love and care given to the children by Rostitus and his team who work under huge pressures to provide for them.
Since 2015 four children have been sponsored by MSAVLC supporters, and the First Aid Project is still in operation. Progress reports and drawings have been sent to us by the children.
A great deal of equipment, including beds, mattresses, mosquito nets, blankets, tables, chairs, storage boxes, fans, school bags, toys, a water tank and pump, and a fridge, have been provided for the Home.
MSAVLC will endeavor to continue to support the Home whenever it can.
2020 – UPDATE
Due to the Covid 19 pandemic, Trustees were not able to visit New Hope Children’s Home this year as planned.
The Cambodian government are now trying to encourage more children to be cared for by relatives where possible, instead of in orphanages, although this is not always the best or indeed practical solution. Some of the children at the Home have now left, either because relatives have come forward to care for them, or because they have reached an age of independence, so the number of children at the Home has decreased. However, the remaining children are well cared for.
Global Care, a Christian charity, have also funded New Hope Children’s Home but unfortunately, they are intending to withdraw their support for the Home at the end of 2021. At present the
situation at the Home is fairly stable and thirteen children are being cared for. There are a number of self-sufficiency projects that are working well, including paddy fields, a fishpond, mango trees, banana trees, bamboo trees and a rice mill.
MSAVLC continues to sponsor four children at the Home and school reports, letters and drawings were received during the year from all four children. In view of the Covid 19 pandemic emergency funds were sent this year to buy essential equipment and food.
The Trustees of MSAVLC will assess the situation at the Home when they are permitted to visit Cambodia again.
2023 – UPDATE
Since our last visit eight years ago, the situation at the Home had changed a great deal. The children have all grown up. Some have left and gone to live with relatives, and the rest have now moved to live in a home in Poi Pet, as they are mostly attending senior school there. The farm is visited at weekends, and rice had been grown and milled to feed the children. Fruit trees and fish farming were still in operation.
Global Care have withdrawn their funding to encourage Rostitus, the Home’s director, to become self-sufficient now and have set him up with a small school in Poi Pet to raise funds for this. MSAVLC have provided him with computers and equipment to enable him to provide computer classes to earn extra income.
Trustees were able to visit the children in Poi Pet and see for themselves the school and computer classes in operation. The children had been well cared for, all were happy and well-adjusted, and they had received a good educational and Christian upbringing. We were delighted to meet them all again and pleased that we had been able to provide for them during their formative years.
The first aid project is still in operation and Trustees were able to attend one of the weekly sessions run by the local pastor, where we saw the children’s hair been treated for lice.
It was decided to supply the children with some clothing and bedding and continue to help with funding for two more years, by which time we hope that they will be self-sufficient.