Reporting From the Field

This January, GoPhil staff Linda DeWolf, Tracey Morrell and Mary Jo O’Hara traveled to Cambodia and Vietnam to visit our partner non-profits to see the results of donations and to consider how we can best assist in the coming year.    Read about how your contributions made an impact…

When Phymean Noun threw her eaten chicken bone over her shoulder and a pack of hungry children dove on what remained on it, her life changed forever.  This took place 10 years ago in Phnom Penh Cambodia–since then Phymean quit her stable job, started a non-profit called PIO and now feeds and educates nearly 1000 orphans and street children, with a focus on girls.  PIO has outreach centres at the city dumpsite, in the slum areas of Phnom Penh and on the outskirts of the city where the people from the slums are being relocated as the city is redeveloped. They also run vocational training for uneducated girls in dressmaking, cookery, and beauty and hairdressing.  It’s humbling to see what can happen when one person decides to make a difference….

Girls from poor families have the choice between being a bar girl or a prostitute…

GoPhilanthropic has been a partner in Phymean’s work at PIO for several years offering support on various levels from providing supplies to their orphanage, to facilitating a 100,000 solar power grant from Engineers w/O Borders, to donating a water tank for the main school and computers for their training lab.  But this is a drop in the bucket when you stack it up next to the need that PIO faces each day.

GoPhilanthropic’s Tracey Morrell visiting PIO classrooms

When GoPhil staff members Linda DeWolf, Tracey Morrell and Mary Jo O’Hara traveled to PIO this January, their objective was to see how we could be of further assistance this year, perhaps easing the load of responsibility Phymean almost single-handled carries for these children and young women.

PIO provides a foundation upon which girls can  build a future

After visiting the classrooms and centers (packed with beaming faces of children learning!), Tracey Morrell, responsible for spearheading GoPhil’s fundraising for the PIO, felt that their sewing vocational program held particular promise in providing a launching pad for young uneducated girls.  Without having some sort of skill or formal education, girls from poor families have the choice between being a bar girl or prostitution.  PIO’s sewing program would offer one full year of training plus daily expenses.  Most importantly, the young women would leave the program with a skill for life.

GoPhil is now hoping to raise $600 for 20 girls to enter the program.  Donate a Future and we will monitor their development as they make their way through the program and visit them next year in  2013.

Besides raising awareness for the sewing program, GoPhil made a note of a serious need for bikes so that children can get to school.   In addition,  $2,000 is needed to send certain children to the dentist. Tracey hopes to find a dentist in Rochester willing to take this on!   email Tracey if you know a willing dentist or are interesting in partnering in any of the programs at PIO.

21 Bikes and School Uniforms Delivered!

Your funds make a difference!
$60 provided this child a bike and uniform

Venturing further to Siem Reap, home to the famous spiritual temples at Angkor Wat, the GoPhil team headed into the rural areas outside of town where few tourists venture.  Working with our partner grassroots non-profit HUSK, we had the pleasure of delivering the 21 bikes and sets of school uniforms contributed by GoPhil donors (many of whom came to the Rochester Loft Wine and Cheese).  What a joy to meet the mothers and children who received the donations and to see first hand the benefits that a bike can have on the life of a child in Cambodia-for some it will mean the difference between being able to attending school or not going at all.

HUSK is a lean and effective NGO started by a couple who moved to Siem Reap to start a hotel.  “Don’t give a man a fish, teach him how to fish” is the motto of HUSK as it helps to provide sustainable solutions to poor villages.

Their programs span from providing mosquito nets, bikes and uniforms to facilitating creative agricultural programs.  Donors can now assist by funding fruit trees ($30) or offering a starter kit for a family to plant vertical gardens which provide both food and a  income ($150). Help a family now and we will visit next Jan to see the impact…

A young student takes her new bike for a ride!  Thank you to all of our bike donors.

Painting For Life  – Solar Panels Installed

Ten years ago, Leng, founder of  Orphans and Disabled Arts Association (ODA) in Siem Reap, Cambodia felt compelled to take in street children and raise them as his own. He lost both his parents to the Khmer Rouge and had it not been for his uncle and aunt who took him in and raised him as their own, he too would have been a street child. Leng, his wife, two children and 25 abandoned children now live as one big family.
Striving for No-Handout-Outs

GoPhil help fund Solar Panels for the shelter

Leng is an artist and his dream is to have his orphanage and schools be self-funding from the sale of the paintings he and the children create after school.  He supplements the school curriculum with English and computer lessons every day and the children paint in their spare time.  Teaching the children that they have the strength and skills to support themselves is at he core of his “no-hand-out” philosophy.  Leng must be doing a lot right– the eldest ODA child is about to start engineering at the local university.    We were lucky to see the solar panels you funded in place and functioning at the shelter reducing the need for the smelly and loud generator!

Linda and Tracey came home with 80 amazing canvases and water paintings painted by ODA children in hopes to sell them as a means to fundraise for the children’s continued education and well-being.  Tracey will be arranging an art exhibit  this April in Rochester in order to raise interest for the program (stay tuned for details).  Linda has just help her first Artists Helping Artists workshop/ retreat in Provence, France, raising nearly $3,000 for the children at ODA.  We are currently exploring other opportunities for future art workshops.

Interested in buying an ODA painting or purchasing paints for the children?  contact Linda DeWolf

GOPhil Linda DeWolf visits with the children at ODA

Sponsor a Girl’s Education  – It’s one less trafficked
After a full week of site-visits in Cambodia, the team flew to Hoi An in Central Vietnam to visit with Children’s Education Fund – our partner non-profit believing in the power that comes from educating girls.  CEF sponsors 130 girls through the passionate efforts of Founder Linda Burn.  Sitting down with Linda to chat about the inspiration behind her work,  she is quickly brought to tears as she describes the horrifying reality of trafficking problems in Vietnam–thus her motivation behind focusing mainly (yet not exclusively) on girls. She states emphatically that every girl in school is one less trafficked.

Founder Linda Burn with a CEF student

GoPhilanthropic’s Linda DeWolf began fundraising for  CEF sponsorships only 6 months ago and has now matched GoPhil donors with  9 girls and 4 at risk boys.   Sponsors enjoy a genuine connection with their students due to CEF’s focus on regular visits to each student, tracking both their academics, health and home life.  Knowing that a child’s school attendance and results are inextricably linked to their health,  CEF also offers the chance for donors to support their sponsored child’s medical fund.  Many students are still battling with malnutrition so this will be an area of focus this upcoming year.

The best part of this site-visit was being able to spend time visiting the students GoPhil donors had sponsored.   The team also met and delivered needed protein to sponsored girls from the leper community outside DaNang.  We are sharing the stories, photos and progress of each of the students with those who are funding their futures. This is the connection that GoPhil strives to build for its donors– one that adds yet another level of engagement many foundations do not have the time to facilitate.   More donors are still needed as the program reaches out into the surrounding rural areas of Hoi An.   Contact Linda DeWolf if you are interested in supporting a CEF student.  We will be visiting them again next 2013.


Meeting GoPhil’s sponsored students!

The question coming home is always…how can we do more?
Realizing the the sea of need during these trips is always overwhelming.  While it’s so valuable to see the contributions and donations at work,  the visits invariably have us returning home with our heads full of questions as to how we can do more for these incredible organizations all devoted to education.

Join Us for Upcoming Events
We will be holding various fundraisers, wine and cheese events, workshops and art programs throughout the year to raise awareness for the work these inspiring people are doing.
Stay in touch with these events on our FACEBOOK page…  or reach out if you have ideas for people, groups or networks who might be interested in joining our partnership.

by Lydia Dean – Founder Gophilanthropic