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Letter received from Sr. Mary Little, Cambodia

Dear Ms Logan and students,

I would like to thank you for your contribution to the work we do here in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. At present we are working in collaboration with the Church of the Child Jesus in Boeung Tum Pun. While the project has many facets helping the poor access educational and medical opportunities here, I would like to focus on the new center that we opened in October. The new center is really just a large room on the second floor of a house. Downstairs the owners have a shop where they sell food.

Picture of the houses across from the centerWe chose any area in Phnom Penh where the families make a living by collecting recyclables like cans and boxes and just about anything metal, wooden, glass or plastic. The families barely make enough to feed themselves every day. To give an idea of the neighborhood I took this picture of the houses across from the center.

Most of the mothers leave at 4 p.m. to go collect recyclables, deliver them to the recycling center probably a 3-mile walk, sleep there overnight, collect more stuff in the morning, deliver that and return home around 7 a.m. They leave the children with a grandmother or neighbor.

Child playing with "Duplos"At the center we are trying to work especially with the younger children who don’t go to elementary school by having toys for them to play with and the opportunity to make a craft and hear a story read to them each day. We are hoping to do some basic teaching of numbers, colors, shapes and sizes as we continue to work with them. None of the children have toys, books, or games at home. So learning to use legos and build something can be quite challenging as they find out how to put the pieces together. The trucks and dolls have been a big hit as this is their first experience to push a truck around or play house with dolls and a toy kitchen set.

Children playing/craft in the backgroundAs you can see in the background we also do a craft and hang it up for everyone to admire. The children had made a frog by pasting small pieces of green paper on the picture of the frog.

While most of the children we work with are young – under the age of 6, we do have some older children who come to read or make puzzles or play board games. We also have a health education program for the mothers one afternoon a week and an opportunity of them to meet a nurse on another afternoon during the week. Then at the end of the week the nurse helps them go to the hospital to access medical care that we pay for. The nurse who works with us asked if there was any money to buy some clothes for the children. I would like to spend the money you sent to buy the children some clothes at Christmas time. Even though they are most likely Buddhist, everyone knows about bonne noel since this used to be a French colony. So we are very grateful to you for making it possible for us to help these families in any way that we can.

Gratefully,

Sister Mary Little

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