AZIZAS PLACE CAMBODIA
I recently got back from my favorite of all places Cambodia where I had the opportunity to spend time with Azizas Place staff and kids and got to participate in their amazing community outreach initiative. Just to be clear with everyone, Azizas Place is not an orphanage, it is a living and learning center (like a boarding school) for kids who come from an area outside the capital called Steung Menchey ( which is essentially a dumpsite). The kids have families but they are being integrated back into their communities by the support from theap staff who makes sure they are eating properly, getting proper health and dental care as well as focusing on their education and personal well being.
I have recently read several articles against " volontourism" and although some of the points made are valid ( read http://www.one.org/international/blog/the-problem-with-little-white-girls-and-boys/) I have to disagree on many levels only because there are certain factors one should consider. A volunteer should make a decision to choose an ngo they want to support who's core values and vision and mission are in line with their beliefs. If I had not had the opportunity to volunteer and meet the staff and kids at AP, I would never know the ins and outs of what makes this organization different and why years later I still continue to support it by raising awareness of their work, outreach projects, and new initiatives to help not only the children but their families as well. One needs to spend time and develop a relationship not only with the kids but the staff as well. Back to the photos ( which hopefully speak for themselves) this community outreach was an incredible experience. To see all the AP kids come together, and give back to their communities, teach hygiene to their relatives, friends and neighbors was beyond a doubt very special. I really want to thank Socheat who is the AP director for being my hero and inspiration. Thank you for all the hard work, care and special attention you give to these children and their communities.
Photos Leila Antakly