Aziza's Place - Phnom Penh, Cambodia
Aziza's Place is an NGO in Phnom Penh. A residential school for 21 disadvantaged children in the capital city of Cambodia.
I have added links to points of interest - please click on them as I am sure that like myself, most of us have little knowledge of Cambodia.
In October 2010 my daughter, Hayley Carter, took a 3 month, unpaid sabbatical to go and work as a volunteer in Phnom Penh, the capital city of Cambodia. She was working for an organisation called The Aziza Foundation at Aziza's Place, a small residential school for around 21 children in the city centre of Phnom Penh.
Her first "guided tour" of the city, by her Khymer contact took in The Killing Fields at Choeung Ek and also the former school which was used by the Khymer Rouge as a prison and torture centre at Tuol Sleng . Although a down beat start to her time in SE Asia, the Cambodian feel it is very important that every visitor to the country learns about the horrific past of the country so that we do not stand by and let such events happen again.
Aziza's is a happy, positive place - it enables young residents to attend state school for their basic education plus teaches them English, computer skills, sport and dance to give them a well rounded start to life.
Hayley lived with with 3 other volunteers from the USA and England who worked in other organisations in Phnom Penh. Through these, and other contacts she accompanied the children horse riding ( many of the children had not seen a horse before), roller skating and to a picnic - hammocks and barbeque with fresh picked mango! She held an English language class each day, but her main function was involved in the organisation of the office and partcularly the HR side of the school, which is her career in the UK.
At Christmas, the other volunteers time in Cambodia was over, so Hayley was left by herself, so she spent Christmas day at Aziza's running games,opening presents for the children and making a "Christmas Wreath" out of cornflakes, marshmallows, bright green food colouring and decorated with a variety of brightly coloured sweets - great fun was had by all in making the the treat (and in eating it)
It wasn't all work - on her first full weekend there a trip for the volunteers was arranged to the beach resort of Sihanoukville. Later she visited Kampot, Rabbit Island, Kratie on the Upper Mekong where she saw some of the endangered Irrawaddy river dolphins, Battambang home of the Bamboo Railway, Siem Reap and Ankhor Wat.
One of the major events in the Cambodian Calendar is the River Festival - at the end of the rainy season the flow of water from the Mekong River slows, which allows the water of the Tonle Sap river to start to flow back out towards the sea. Millions of people from all over Cambodia head to Phnom Penh for a weekend of celebrations and fireworks - the best fireworks Hayley has ever seen. Hayley and friends visited the festival to see the fireworks and then went home to bed. The following day she woke to the news of the tragedy that claimed 400 lives as panic hit the crowds of people leaving an island in the river. A tragic end to a wonderful weekend. Fortunately, none of Aziza's children or staff were hurt, although many lost friends and relations. Hayley likened the atmosphere in the city to the feeling in the UK after 9/11.
At the end of her 3 months volunteering she left for a well earned break to Vietnam and Thailand before returning to the UK, She came to talk to us at the club in March and the club kindly donated a total of