At the end of last month, we asked what questions you would want to ask of your sponsored child in Cambodia. We had a fantastic response, with lots of insightful and fascinating questions.
Our intrepid child sponsor, Julie, has returned with answers gathered from talking to just some of the 2000 sponsored children in the Koh Krolor community, spread across 40 villages. We’d love to know what you’ve learnt or found interesting about this post – so come and find us on Facebook and share your thoughts.
Over to Julie for the run down of the answers straight from the children:
I asked different questions to different groups of children – some in the primary school (very young, around six years old) and then in the afternoon with some of the older ones. In the most cases it’s the kids who answered, in the odd instance it’s others such as WV staff or the mums, which I’ve tried to identify in the answers here. Enjoy!
1. What does it feel like to have a sponsor in another country?
Most of the children I met are sponsored and they all love having sponsors and hearing from them. There’s even a bit of competition going, with playground tales around number of letters received and the like! They understand a bit about the UK – namely that it’s a long way away and is a very rich country by comparison.
2. What would you like to know about the people who sponsor you?
The children overwhelmingly like to hear about their sponsor’s life, particularly about the sponsor’s family. Asian children – and adults – love to talk about family so if you can talk about brothers, sisters, partners and kids – they’ll love to hear about it! Children also said they liked to hear about the sponsor’s home and country environment. They also want to be encouraged by their sponsor, and to hear about why they’ve chosen to be a sponsor.
3. What things would you like to know about where you sponsor lives?
The children were quite general in their answers to this one, they said they wanted to know how we live in our country. I was asked questions about electricity and about the type food we eat, as well as who we live with and the general surroundings. Postcards helped explain a lot!
4. Do you like getting photos from your sponsor and if so what photos do you like the most?
The children love to receive photos; they weren’t too specific about what type, they just said a big “yes” to piccies!
5. What kind of small gifts would you like to receive from your sponsors?
The younger ones liked dolls (girls) and toy cars (boys). Stereotypical, yes, but there you go. I took my sponsored child, who’s 13, a little “build your own” toy car, and he was delighted with it – Dad was pretty chuffed too.
6. Is there anything sponsors can send that will help children with their school work?
Pens, exercise books and the like are always welcome. At my sponsored child’s school there was no electricity and the children wrote on small blackboards. My personal feeling was that it would be helpful for children to know something about the things they can’t learn at school because there just aren’t the facilities – science is a prime example. Khmer chemistry set, anyone? There didn’t seem to be any visual aids in the classrooms, which got me thinking that maps might be good as well…
7. What would you like to say to your sponsor?
I’ll answer this by sharing what the children asked me. Before I start – Asian people love to talk about family as it’s how they “place” themselves in relation to the other person. Ok, here goes… How many brothers and sisters do you have? Who are your parents? How old are you? Are you married? Do you live with your boyfriend? Who do you live with? What kind of food do you eat in your country? Do you eat bread all the time? Does England have jungle? How long did it take to get here from your country? Phew!
8. What do you want to do when you grow up?
A mix of answers here – I encouraged them to try their best in their studies to help realise these dreams… we had everything from working at an NGO, to being a doctor, teacher, policeman, soldier and a singer. The last one might seem a bit X-Factor, but in fairness the girl who said it is the star of the dancing and singing group by all accounts!
9. What makes you happiest?
Lots of answers here, the overwhelming one being family gatherings such as Khmer New Year. Other answers: playing with friends, playing football, getting letters from their sponsors, doing well at school and receiving a gift, being bought new clothes / a school bag by Mum.
10. What things have changed in Cambodia in the last few years? What is better?
I asked this question of the mothers learning about nutrition rather than the kids, and have coupled it with some insight from the WV team in Cambodia. WV has been working in Koh Kralor for about 6 years now, so they’re just starting the second phase of the project. The first phase has focused in five areas, of which education is just one. One of the others is pre- and post-natal care for mothers and their babies through nutrition; by showing mums how to make a multi-vegetabled and substantial “rice porridge” rather than the traditional watery rice version. I tasted it, it was good! (No pressure, in front of 30 eagerly watching mums!) Happily, the mothers I asked said it had made such a difference to their children too – they were healthier at a young age, and were growing quicker. The WV team also told me that access road to the community has been improved in this past year – it’s now by a good dirt track instead of rutted mud-fest. Cars are still very unusual here – my visit was the first time my sponsored child’s mum had been in a car!
11. What is a typical day for a Cambodian child?
Before school, the children will make sure they’re clean, then tidy up their bed and maybe sweep or do another chore such as taking the family cow to the rice field. School normally starts at 7 or 8am – they get there under their own steam, either on foot or by push-bike. After school, they’ll continue to help around the house, typically by washing clothes, helping to look after siblings or feeding animals such as the chickens or the pig. They may have some time to read or play with their friends. They go to bed between 7 and 9pm, and then it all starts again the next day!
12. If you could change one thing in your village what would it be?
I’m afraid I didn’t ask the children this question, but had some interesting insight from the World Vision staff and the dad of my sponsored child. I will sum it up as “reliability of food supply”. Apparently last year the monsoon rains were light, so the rice crop was poor and some villagers migrated as a result – often this migration is to Thailand to look for work, but as illegal immigrants there the children won’t easily to able to access Thai education systems. This year, the monsoon has been good, but the fish stocks of my sponsored child’s family were low so, again, food is an issue. I can’t imagine how difficult life must be to not know where their next meal is coming from.
13. What is your favourite game? How do you play it?
The children liked a lot of games, but skipping and jumping seemed to be the top two! Playground equipment such as swings were also popular, as was that universal favourite – football.
Thank you so much to Julie for taking the time to ask your questions to the children of Cambodia. We’ve certainly found some of the answers interesting and enlightening in the World Vision UK office.
Why not share what you’ve taken from this post on our Facebook page – and don’t forget to pop back on Saturday when we’ll have the full story of Julie’s trip right here.
Any views or opinions contained in this blog are those of the individual author and do not necessarily represent those of World Vision