While in Cambodia, our Semester at Sea group did more than just visit the temples. Our first stop in Phnom Penh was actually to an orphanage that takes in children whose mothers have died of HIV or who no longer can care for them because of the disease.
Nearly 100 children live at Palm Tree Orphanage, which started in 2002 and was founded by a SAS alum.
Those over a certain age leave the grounds in the morning to go to English school and return in the afternoon for the rest of their education.
Many of them go onto university when they are of age; aside from food, shelter and love, the Palm Tree Foundation gives them a chance at a future.
On this particular evening, they all welcomed us into their home and treated us to a traditional Khmer routine with elaborate costumes, singing and bamboo dances.
This little girl absolutely stole the show. She lit up the stage with her smile and her spirit, and I wondered how I could store her in my pocket and sneak her back onto the ship with me.
After they’d danced their little hearts out for us, the children dispersed and each zeroed in on one of us. This 16-year-old beauty came and took my hand, then led me around the multi-floor compound, eager to show me where she lives, goes to school and eats her meals.
Children in Cambodia are no different than they are anywhere else in the world; these kids in particular had PEOPLE magazine covers and other tabloid clippings of Robert Pattinson pasted all over their walls.
We were there for too short of a time, but as we went to leave, many of the children asked us for our email addresses and promised to write. It was cute how eager they were to practice their English on us, while at the same time incredibly shy at doing so (though their speech and vocabulary was nearly perfect).
The director stressed to us that the orphanage doesn’t really need funding, what they need is volunteers. If you’re interested in donating your time (or maybe graphic design efforts to get them a decent website up and running), contact me and I’ll put you in touch with the program.
Off-topic but I’m interested to hear more about this Semester At Sea thing. Do you have any other posts?
Probably around 50, maybe more =)
Ha, probably should have checked first, Thx 🙂
Aw, I’ve just had to get out my Cambodia album and relive my experiences in that beautiful country. It ties at the top of my favourite ever country list (with Uganda), primarily because of the wonderful people.
I’m with you: Funny that Cambodia was never really up there on my list, and now I would have to rank it as one of my top three countries ever visited. Such an amazing place and people.
this is so inspiring!! wish i could participate in SAS!!
Um, awesome. Please to send me info on volunteering. Do they need permanent volunteers? For months at a time? Weeks? Need more info, stat.
Yes ma’am, I will email it to you shortly!
Aww… sweet. How cute that they asked for your e-mail addresses.
That’s adorable and fantastic! When you said that each one of them paired up with you I was afraid that they were going to start the begging for money, but it’s wonderful that they just wanted to communicate. I hope you hear from them!
Off topic myself, the girls there are so ridiculously gorgeous! What a lovely experience!!! I hope that they can get the volunteers they need.
I was on SAS in Spring 11 and had the chance to visit. I met a girl at the orphanage named Chelode and was looking for information on how I can come in contact with her. I tried to visit the website/facebook but nothing seems to be working to get in contact with the orphanage. If you have any info please help me out…
thank you so much
Also would love if you sent some info on volunteering there
I would love the contact info for Palm Tree Orphanage. I visited there when I was on SAS and would love to volunteer there.
I am dong a project for my senior convergence class about the Plam Tree orphanage and corruption in donation organizations. I would love to be able to talk to some volunteers or the founder. If you can , relay a phone number or email address.
They’re so cute! Volunteering here sounds like a great idea. I’ll be in Cambodia in a couple of months so will have to check this place out!
Hey, i’m heading back to vietnam in a month and i’m hoping to do a lot more volunteering there. it’d be amazing to get their contact info from you to help at that orphanage. Thanks!!
I was on SAS ’07, and spent 4 months at the Palm Tree after I graduated in 2008. I think about those kids all the time, especially a couple I was closest to. I’m trying to get back in touch with them, but lost my records from that year. Do you have any of their contact info? Email or anything for the orphanage? I am desperate to reach out to them!
Love reading through all your southeast Asia posts! Looks incredible and those children are so adorable. Glad you could spend some time at the orphanages there to help out 🙂