From the difficulties, from the failures, from the disappointments and the misunderstandings, the opportunities often arise … and this, our crowdfunding online is the practical demonstration.
It is not easy to describe this project but we try, starting from the beginning, when we started to build our center.
From the first days, among the children of the village who came to Nicola was Millien, a 14-year-old boy who stood out for his lost look, for his clothing and for several factors that created the necessity for us to inform us about his living conditions and therefore about his family: his mother ran away from home with another man and she never has a permanent home, his father is unfortunately alcoholic, he does not understand where he lives and when he comes to the village he even steals few clothes from their children.
Millien and his brother, two years older than him, live in the village of Phnom Thmey and sleep every night in their old uncle’s small house or in the hammock at some friends’ garden. He never went to school, he eats where he can and he is exploited by adults to do heavy work in exchange for some money.
This situation broke our hearts and at the same time Millien, who because of his bright yellow hair we began to call ‘biondo’, which means blond in italian, was getting closer and closer to us. At this time he helps us to work, we start to buy clothes and food, and day after day his life’s conditions improve and the horizon for his future widens.
His brother does not initially want to get closer to our center and we cannot do anything to change it, but Biondo continues to be next to us and we realize that what he needs most is a safe place to sleep, some stability.
Our first solution seems to be perfect and the first days are fantastic: From 15 February Biondo starts sleeping with us in our volunteers’ house and if the first impression seems magical, after a few days we begin to realize the difficulties related to his lifestyle.
This guy has always lived in a completely wild freedom in the village, without education and without affection, with us he saw a strong change but after 4 days he left our house without a reason, then he returned as a result of our pressure, he went away again, he returned again and this story continued for two weeks.
We could not understand his state of mind but in the end it was easy enough: he has always lived on the street, he never had rules and when we tried to make him live differently, unfortunately he was not able to hold the pace of change. One had the feeling of seeing a child sometimes happy but at the same time it was easy to notice that he was experiencing a hard situation, without his extreme freedom and among people who did not have his own bad luck.
We tried in many ways to fix this relationship, to keep him with us and to continue helping him, but in the end we lost him, he moved definitively away from the volunteers’ house and decided not even look at us in the eyes. This situation made us live with a very bad mental state but the hope of helping him never died. After a month and a half thanks to football we could bring him closer and with the passage of time we try to understand how to help him specifically.
Now, together with him are also his brother and Chad, a 19-years-old boy, brother of a girl who has been living with us for months due to a delicate family situation. Biondo, his brother and Chad begin to work with us, we find a temporary arrangement, and the idea of rebuilding their old house is born, to give them a place and to create a good opportunity for their futures.
With the volunteers present in the center during the month of April we decided to open a crowdfunding campaign for these three guys, while they are getting closer and closer and when we see them even with books in hand, we have the feeling of having already won a difficult challenge.
We prepare the crowdfunding campaign, make a video to tell everything and after making a budget, we realize that with 3000 euro we can rebuild his house, build a bathroom from scratch, and start an activity that can allow them to work in the future.
We launch the crowdfunding campaign on May 7th with the aim of receiving 3,000 euros in two months. Thanks to our volunteers the first results are atonishing, but immediately a problem arises: Biondo’s father. We are afraid that when the men returns to the village he would steal everything they have, mainly the house we want to rebuild as the land is his.
We cannot risk it, so we decide to rebuild an old abandoned house in a land that borders our center.
We intended to rent this piece of land sooner or later because of its strategic position, we were stalling so as not to have too many expenses every month but faced with this situation it became inevitable to enlarge the boundaries of our centre.
From this change we realized immediately that the cost of the work is no longer the same, that we can save a lot of money, so we start the new project with the idea of making this place more comfortable. Thanks to its proximity to the football field we immediately thought of dividing the house into two parts: a large room where the children can sleep and another space for an activity, a real opportunity for a future work.
We bought the material needed for the reconstruction, we destroyd the old house, a group of workers reconstructed the walls and we, along with Biondo, his brother, Chad and all their friends, did all the rest: a bamboo floor, doors and stairs, buying windows, beds, mattresses, bed sheets, hygienic material for all three and everything you need to start a new life.
At the end of June the house is ready, there is a bedroom already furnished and a special terrace overlooking the football field, our goal then becomes that the kids start to live immediately in the house while we build the bathroom and study in details the type of activity they can do. It seemed really all perfect, missing a few hundred euros to close the crowfunding campaign and we had so far spent less than a thousand euros to rebuild the house. But then it happened that their first night under a new roof turned everything into a total failure.
We had the feeling that we had saved these three boys from the street by giving them for the moment a house, food, clothes, affection and all that they needed to live, but they did not need all this. In reality it is all this that they need, but it is difficult to transform a person in a few months, not even a life is sometimes enough.
They slept in the new house one night and from the next day they all disappeared, in the sense that without a reason they decided to abandon what at one point seemed to be a dream come true. Actually the reason was what moves the world, often creating conflicts and wars: the money. One of the main problems of Cambodia, and something we are trying to fight against every day is child exploitation.
Many children work full time when they should go to school and there are often rich people who use them for hard work in exchange for little money. As we are talking about kids we cannot talk about little money, because for a fourteen-year-old it is often more important to work in exchange for any money, no matter how much, than to work and study to have a better future. We therefore lost the boys and from that day a period of confusion began.
We still had an important budget and the house was ready, we started thinking about how to use this new structure and at the same time we try to understand the perfect way to invest the rest of the money. At the beginning, the house is transformed into a wonderful kindergarten where Daniela begins a very important educational project with the small children of the village, on the terrace we bring all the material we had in the house of volunteers and a fabulous library is created, where children spend their time every day to read and draw and where we often have meetings with the children or their parents.
Initially we wanted to build a bathroom for the boys’ house and we had the need to build the bathrooms for the school, for the soccer field and for the playground.
It was therefore decided to do everything connected, to do just one bathroom. We got to spend just 800 euros for the house and a few days before finishing the crowdfunding we realized that in addition to the house we could use a good budget for the construction of the bathrooms and we could also make what was a dream for us : to rebuild the house of Asoy, Aein and Srey Hoy.
The construction of the bathrooms was a really complicated operation, mainly to create the exhaust systems. Two workers began to work on it, but due to the difficulties encountered, the work was prolonged and in the end we had to add around 370 euros which were not part of the crowdfunding budget.
Asoy Aein and Srey Hoy are 8, 10 and 13 years old and live in an old house made of straw in inhuman conditions, with their mother and grandmother. From the beginning were part of the children closest to us, we are more than in love with them and for months we have helped them by buying food and clothes. When we realized that we had the opportunity to help them, an special energy emerged and the demolition work began in order to transform this house and make it more comfortable with the minimum necessary.
Asoy and Aein grew up without a father, the mother took little care of them and for months they distinguished themselves from other children because of their restlessness that prompted us to inform us in detail about their living conditions. So we are following them for some time and destroying the house with them and their friends was a funny show.
After destroying everything in a special morning, the workers rebuilt the walls using iron, a style commonly used in Cambodia to save money, we bought the basic furniture, such as beds and mattresses, we made a room on the ground floor for the elderly lady who is in difficulty to climb the stairs, we have cleared the floor pouring a truck of land and we have built a bathroom at the back of the house definitely changing their living conditions.
The construction of the house and the bathroom for Asoy and Aein has brought us closer to the people of the village. Most of them struggle to get out of their mentality to try to understand what we are doing, the alcohol and gambling fill the days of the people, the children are not treated, they force them to work to have free time and automatically an educational project like ours for many people does not represent anything positive.
With this new project many have finally begun to understand that we are here to seriously help their children. We decided then to follow this way, we extended the crowdfunding for another month and we changed the target from 3000 to 5000 euros, with the will to rebuild other houses after identifying the emergencies of the village. We receive in a short time other donations reaching the figure of 3650 euros but unfortunately the whole stops with these numbers.
In the end we did not reach the 5000 euro target that would had allowed us to do much more, but we helped the family of little Mowgli and Sokya. Since the month of October Mowgli is the cover image of our facebook page, we have seen this little girl in the village since the early days turning around without a shirt, with a special smile and mystery behind her. We started calling her Mowgli but her name is Vanet, she is 6 years old, she has two sisters aged 8 and 12, Vannat and Nanat, and two brothers, Nun aged 4 and a baby one year old.
They live with their parents and grandparents in a rusty tin house and here as well the conditions were inhumane.
Mowgli’s father is a builder, has done all the work himself, so in this case we only hat to buy the material. After the demolition he rebuilt everything using the same style as the house of Asoy and Aein, then he placed the ground floor under the house and with the help of a worker he also built the bathroom. Here too we are talking about a small but fundamental investment that has changed the living conditions of this beautiful family.
For the work in the house of Mowgli we spent 485 euros and with the last money we decided to help the little Sokya and his cousins. Sokya lost his parents and lives with his aunt who has a small shop, he was from the beginning the child who had a closer relationship with the volunteers and his smile has become something special for all of us. For Sokya we built a bathroom because even in this case the conditions under his house wooden cottage were inhumane.
A worker who has already done so many jobs in the Viva la Vida Cultural Center built Sokya’s bathroom in a week and our volunteers have finished this project by painting this and the other built bathrooms. This bathroom will be used by three children and three elderly ladies, they never had one and seeing their happiness at the end of the day was one of the most beautiful moments in Phnom Thmey.
Unfortunately we did not receive more funds through the crowfunding, the final goal was not achieved but the results were more than positive. We wanted to change the lives of 3 boys and for the moment we did not succeed, but we have changed the living conditions of 11 children and their families, we built the bathrooms in the playground for all our children and now (September 2018) we finally found the right way for what was the house of Biondo, his brother and Chad.
The terrace is now a spectacular library frequented twelve hours a day, in the bedroom is now living a boy from the orphanage of Kampong Cham who works with us as a computer teacher and translator for a while, and with him lives Chad who decided to come back, and every night some other guys who need it come to sleep with them.
As for Biondo and his brother, we have not managed to help them for some reasons that are still for us unexplainable, but we will do everything to recover these guys from the street and bring them back to our big family.
We therefore close this second campaign with many positive results and with the desire to continue to give our help to those who need it.
It has been so much work behind this project and everything has been possible thank you to our Mara, who is already a backbone for Viva la Vida and thank you to our volunteers, who have helped in the constructions, the economic support and the construction.
We finish this long story with the acknowledgement, we have to mention then all the people who contributed economically.
Thanks to SILVIA MAZZAMURRO and all her friends who have collected the last 400 euro , used for the construction of Sokya’s bathroom.
Thank to all volunteers who have helped with important economic amounts with the help of friends and family: MARA TUNNO, CRHISTOPHER CHAUBET, GIULIO FALCHI E PIERLUIGI FIGHERI, ELSA PICQ, RICCARDO SANDANO, GIULIA DE DONI, MIRELLA ALBERTI, MARIE VERGEZ, ALICIA DUVERNAY, FABRIZIO MARTINO e MARIA PAOLA CANU.
Thanks to ILARIA CORTESI ,who collected money for her birthday, thanks to MANUELA BERNINI, NADIA FRANZOLINI, RACHELE BORGHI and DOLORES GARRIDO.
Thanks to ELEONORA SIMOES, MANCA VALENTINA, ERMETE BOLOGNINI, BEAT STROO, ANDREA TROBIA, LAURA SANCHEZ, CRHISTIANE SAMBLANCAT, VERA LUCIA BLOISE, ALESSANDRO TOMASI, MASSIMILIANO CAPALBO, FABRIZIO ORI, MARTINA IACOPETTI, LAURA CECCOLINI, DANIELA MACALUSO and GIOVANNI LONDEI.
Thansk to ELOISE PECCHI, FEDERICA DI BERNARDINO, MIREJA CEPADA, GIOVANNI CRESPI, GIOVANNA FERRARI, ANTONELLA BERTERO, MATHIS BERTONCINI, ALICE YOU, NELLY SCHMITT, ANNA CADIV and LAURA CERRANO.
Thanks to ANNALISA OLITA, DARIO BRAIDO, ANGELO OBINO, FRANCESCA REGINA, TIZIANA FORTUNATO, ANNE SOPHIE LU, CURTIS LI, SOLENE GARACCIO, PIETRO PERRONE and EMMA FERRARI.
We are creating a great family, we deeply believe in this project and despite many difficulties the constancy of our work is giving us so much satisfaction. There is here so much enthusiasm and we live with the hope of being always able to continue this way, to help many other children and make their wonderful smiles eternal.
THANKS TO ALL AND VIVA LA VIDA !!