In September/October 2014, a team of Friedensdorf travelled to Sri Lanka and Cambodia in order to get a better idea of the projects supported there. During their trip of almost 40 days, they saw a lot: Apart from many healthcare stations ensuring basic medical aid, they visited a unique circus project providing children from poor families with valuable experiences.
The first stop was for "Peace Village Nattandiya" in Sri Lanka.
Fortunately, despite ongoing ethnic tensions in Sri Lanka since the end of the civil war in 2009, intercultural meetings in the Peace Village’s facilities continue. Children from Buddhist, Muslim, Christian and Hindu families attend events in Nattandiya, where they spend time together, study and take part in sports activities just like the children in Friedensdorf Oberhausen do. Time and again it is evident that the problems of the grown-up world are not present in the kids’ playful environment. Children do not ask each other about their religion, their ethnic background, their language or their skin color. On this basis, friends are made. Looking back at the civil war, tensions and rising conflicts, there is still hope that these childrens’ friendships will continue as they grow into adults.
Promoting the intercultural meetings in Nattandiya corresponds with Friedensdorf’s goal to be an advocate of peace.
This is equally as important as the project work. The individual aid of Friedensdorf only applies when help cannot be provided in a child’s homecountry. Separating a child from their family by taking it to Germany is the last resort. It would be preferred, if girls and boys could be treated at home, or if they would not fall ill to begin with.
A sufficient vaccination status and a proper first wound care are therefore important requirements and exactly what basic healthcare stations (BGS) provide.
Friedensdorf has already built 22 of these in cooperation with a local partner organization under the management of Cambodian Chau Kim Heng, who has lived in Germany for a long time. Chau Kim Heng, Friedensdorf manager Thomas Jacobs and his colleague Maria Tinnefeld not only visited existing stations, but also potential building sites. The team was impressed with the good conditions and effective work of basic healthcare stations 21 in Sieng Kwieng, BGS 20 in Don Koen and most recent BGS 22, the "Solingen House 1". Prenatal care, childbirth, treatment of respiratory diseases, vaccinations and general checkups are these stations’ main tasks. Since mid-December 2014, Solingen House 1 also has its own ambulance funded by Friedensdorf.
Next, the team visited the hospital in Romeas Hek, province Svay Rieng, where Friedensdorf funds the refurbishing of the maternity and childrens ward.
The Friedensdorf team had already been impressed with the progress in October. Thankfully, building the clinic was completed before time. On December 21st 2014, it was given to the health administration of Svay Rieng province. Since then, many patients have been treated. The official inauguration took place on January 19th 2015.
The team’s final destination was Chambak.
Since 2014, Friedensdorf has been supporting a school in Chambak located about 12 kms from the regional capital Svay Rieng. This support includes the construction of a school building with 4 classrooms. Altogether, the school has around 185 children who until now are being taught in the two existing buildings.
Not only medical aid is given in Cambodia.
Having suffered from Pol Pott’s "Khmer Rouge"-regime for decades, the country has many problems. The average life expectancy in Cambodia is 42 years! In Battambang, in the country’s west, many families make a living on picking rubbish tips for recyclable and valuable materials. In cases like these, children are often left behind. In cooperation with the "Thüringisch-Kambodschanischen Gesellschaft" located in Erfurt a Circus project is run. Here, the children of waste pickers and farmers are occupied and educated.
Just like in "COMPED Home", a school for the blind and disabled.
Here, blind and otherwise impaired children are educated. Upon graduation they are not only experts on agriculture, such as with the breeding of pigs, chicken and fish. Also they can show people in their villages how much people with disabilities can achieve. It was striking, that many participants became blind as a result of rubella. This clearly shows how important the construction of basic healthcare stations is, where children can be vaccinated against diseases like rubella. Friedensdorf is planning to support COMPED Home’s expansion with a kindergarten area.
The support of Friedensdorf matters in a country, where the historical revision of past decades has only just started. Over thirty years after the end of the "Khmer Rouge"-regime, the last of those responsible have been found guilty. However, this process was less about achieving justice by sentencing elderly people. Rather, it was about breaking the silence about this part of history.
Article translated from German by volunteer Chrysante Iliakis –
IB student at International School Dusseldorf