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Visiting my sponsored child in Cambodia

I had always been interested in Cambodia, so when I started sponsoring Vary in 2009 I decided it was the perfect opportunity to visit the country and meet this little seven-year-old girl who I was very happy to be sponsoring.

In February 2010, my friend and I arrived in Phnom Penh, the capital of Cambodia, ready for our adventure. I didn’t really know what to expect, but I just knew I was very excited to meet Vary. We met with ChildFund staff who accompanied us on our journey out to her community.

To get to Svay Thum it took about three-and-a-half hours by car. The last hour was quite a rough, bumpy drive as Vary lives in an isolated area where the closest town is more than 40 minutes away.  This makes it very difficult to access her community in the wet season.

When we arrived I was quite surprised by how many people were waiting for me. As well as Vary and her family, there were also lots of ChildFund volunteers ready to greet and welcome me!

When I met Vary for the first time she was very shy. It was quite overwhelming for me and I think she felt the same way. I gave her a stuffed toy koala, which she still has today.

When I left Vary and her family after that first visit I had tears in my eyes. It was such an amazing experience to be able to meet and talk with her and her family. I had such a wonderful day and it really made my sponsorship feel so much more real to me.

 

It really is amazing to meet your sponsored child and see your sponsorship in action.

Fast forward to 2013 and I have now been to Cambodia four times. I have completely fallen in love with the country €“ its beauty, its people and its culture €“ and, of course, I love that I can visit Vary each time I go.

Every time I see Vary she is less and less shy. On my latest trip when I arrived in the community Vary ran up to me, hugged me and asked, “Did you miss me?” That was such a special moment for me and a memory I know I will cherish forever.

I spent the day with Vary, her mother and aunty, and the local ChildFund staff. We shared a meal together which gave us the chance to catch up on each other’s lives. Vary told me about her school and her friends, and we spoke a lot about dancing as she likes to dance, just the normal stuff that any 11-year-old girl is interested in.

Vary’s family are farmers and back in Australia I live on a farm so we like to chat about that too. It’s nice to have that little connection with her and her family, even if our farms are slightly different!

Each time I visit I also get the chance to see some of the work ChildFund is doing in Vary’s community. This time we visited a group of local youths who’ve established their own latrine (toilet) manufacturing business with ChildFund’s support. These young people were taught how to construct latrines through vocational training and now supply the toilets needed not only for ChildFund’s sanitation projects, but other customers in their local area, which I thought was a wonderful initiative.

I cannot wait to go back to Cambodia! If you’re thinking about making the trip to visit your sponsored child, I’d say definitely do it!

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