Editor’s Note: People engage in various types of volunteer activities. The act giving of yourself always has its rewards whether you stay close to home or explore the farthest reaches of the earth to do it. We asked some of our most inspiring friends to tell us about their philanthropic/volunteering activities.
Life under the tyrannical rule of Pol Pot and the Khmer Rouge was daily if not hourly survival. Life was cheap and families were torn apart through death or permanent separation. Today a Canadian Grandmother operates a ‘Village ‘ called ‘Place of Rescue’ near the capital city of Phnom Penh. This facility has homes for mothers with AIDS with their children, orphaned boys and girls and more recently ‘Grannies”. The mothers with AIDS are brought to the ‘Village” as early as possible giving them an opportunity to feel comfortable with the ‘family’ they will be leaving their children with. They are given anti-viral medication and any other medical treatment necessary. They help each other with daily chores and assist when one is sick. The children have an opportunity to know the orphans. When the mother dies, her children are then moved into the orphanage portion. Since all the children go to school and play together the transition is much easier.
‘Grannies’ were raising their grandchildren because the parents had died during the Pol Pot rein. When they could no longer provide for them, they would bring their grandchildren to this facility and beg the operators to take the children. The destitute Grannies would then return to the streets of Phnom Penh to beg for food, their shelter being only a piece of cardboard. The Canadian Grandmother seeing the need, wanted to add a facility to provide shelter to those homeless Grannies. This would keep a family contact between the children and their grandmothers.
Alice and Ted Price, when in Cambodia, became aware of the need for funds to erect such a facility. Their son Wayne had perished in a tragic plane crash. Wayne had been a member of the Vancouver Police for several years and had a close classmate, Kathleen Tchang. After Wayne’s tragic death, Detective Constable Kathleen Tchang of the Vancouver Police and family, along with the Prices, donated sufficient funds to build the Grannies House in Wayne’s Memory. In February of 2009 Kathleen was able to personally visit the house with the Prices and meet the twelve Grannies who call the facility home.
These Grannies now receive shelter, food, clothing, medical care, and have their own bed. With this added care they have renewed strength and a purpose in assisting the caregivers with the orphaned children in the facility. The orphaned children have a connection with their heritage as these grandmothers share music, dance and other valuable lessons from the past.
With the assistance of these grateful Grannies’, the Canadian Grandmother has been able to leave the ‘Canadian style orphanage’ behind, running this wonderful place truly Cambodian style. Place of Rescue is run as a genuine Cambodian Village.