Grace House has the only Special Needs Unit in Siem Reap Province – not just the town but the whole province – which has an area of over 10,000 square km with a population getting on for a million. The Grace House Unit can take 20 children, with five living in the residential house on site, and it is funded by Tesco – good old Tesco, I thought, when I found out.
It’s not a luxury facility, by any means, it’s very simply furnished and equipped. There’s a soft play room
and a sensory room with a few home made decorations on the ceiling, for the children who can’t move independently
plus a variety of toys and activities.
I think the most costly thing must be the high ratio of staff to children.
There are some truly heartbreaking stories amongst the pupils here – the girl who was kept chained up by her grandmother, the child found abandoned by the roadside, the boy whose Australian father disowned him and whose grandmother dumped him on the pavement outside his father’s home in Siem Reap after his mother died.
The School is hoping to open a second unit so that they can double their intake, and they are currently looking for funding. Presumably this will come from outside Cambodia as everything here for the needy is provided by foreign NGOs. Even the wheelchairs for the physically disabled children are not provided by the State – this one has been supplied by another NGO.
Following a conversation with the social worker in charge of the unit, I have committed to paying for some chickens and a henhouse, so that the children in the residential unit can learn to look after them. So if anyone has any good ideas for fundraising, please let me know.
Equally, if anyone knows of a company or individual who might be willing to pay for a second special needs unit – approx £12,000, I think – please let Grace House know.