As part of our recent trip to Vietnam and Cambodia we were thrilled to be able to visit Honour Village, a childrens village founded by Sue Wiggans a retired school teacher from the Isle of Wight. More info about the village here
The first challenge was to get to the village from Siem Reap, where we were staying in order to visit the magnificent Angkor Wat temple complex. Sue had sent us detailed instructions which we proved to be incapable of conveying either to the hotel receptionist or the tuk tuk driver. The solution was to ring Sue who asked one of her Cambodian staff members to instruct the driver on our behalf. Then we were off, bouncing along the hot and dusty road sometimes, but not always, missing the inevitable potholes! After about half an hour and a couple of wrong turnings we arrived, hot, dusty and pleased to be there.
Our first impression of Honour Village was of happy smiling children - one that has stayed with us!
After a Welcome from Sue we were taken on a tour of the village. There are over 50 resident children ranging in age from under fives to older teenagers. These are children who have lost their parents or whose families are unable to care for them at present.
In addition to the resident children, more than 300 children come for lessons from the surrounding villages to supplement the education provided by the Cambodian state. It is normal in Cambodia for parents to pay for additional lessons for their children to ensure they pass their grades which with class sizes up to 60 can be a challenge for some. Many parents cannot, of course, afford this and the lessons available at Honour Village help to fill this gap.
Sue told us that they were hoping to get a government sponsored teacher to work at the village and that this would make a significant difference to the status of Honour Village. In the meantime as we walked round we saw several classes in action teaching Khmer and English. Some children were using the small library and others were playing in the garden. More classes would begin at 2 including Sue's kindergarten class.
There was also evidence of the challenge of keeping house for 50 plus, I was glad the washing wasn't my responsibility - as it is there is a line for each of the houses and the housemothers are responsible for the task.
As we were leaving Sue and the Honour Village manager began to look at the children's grade cards from the local school - the idea that education can provide a way out of poverty is a central tenet of the philosophy of Honour Village and the children are given all the help and encouragement possible both in terms of their work at the local school and their lessons at Honour Village.
Honour village is doing great work helping children and families in Siem Riep if you would like to support them in this work you can make a donation here.
A lotus flower is the logo for Honour village together with the words
TRUTH - TRANSPARENCY - INTEGRITY
a visit to Honour Village allows you to see these values in action