The time spent at SFODA was a rewarding time. It provided an opportunity to spend time at the orphanage and begin to gain insight into life at SFODA. It was also an opportunity to spend some extended time with the children who range from 3 month old babies through to teenagers.
Although many of the orphans at SFODA are fortunate to be able to attend the local government school they also have the added advantage of having their own classroom at the orphanage. On our first day we spent time practising conversations about ourselves. Understanding the phonics of English is a real area of need as many of their teachers are not native speakers. The classroom now has charts and letters of the alphabet displayed. Other posters and resources appeared from previous visitors and were put on display for use in the classroom. We all spent time practising the sound the letters of the English alphabet made and also the name of the letter.
As I was teaching during the second morning bags of rice were arriving and Moninarom headed into town to purchase school uniforms, rice and health provisions. These provision were a direct result of the money raised by Lauriston Junior School staff and 'Friends of Humanitus'.
Some books about Australian animals were also purchased plus we had brought over books that were donated from 'Friends of Humanitus', all of which were added to the small but growing library. The older children were very eager to read about the kangaroo as some of them knew of them from television. They all joined in the reading and we discussed the text and focused on the meaning. They all showed enormous confidence and were prepared to give it their all.
The challenge for any volunteer program is to maintain a consistent approach. As a result of my brief insight into teaching at SFODA I am now preparing resources that will enable future volunteers to follow a similar program throughout their visit.
One thing that struck me during my time there was the generosity of strangers who have passed through the gates of SFODA. One story was particularly heartwarming as it was about generosity shown to one of the older girls at SFODA. Phena, who is studying language at university in Phnom Penh has been living at SFODA with her brother since the age of seven. When I returned to SFODA after the New Year Phena had a new laptop computer. A person who had dropped in to visit SFODA returned later with a new computer to help her with her studies.
All of these stories reinforce and help you understand that there are many people out there who want to help and make a difference to the lives of these children.
Philip Fox - Education and Learning Director