Koh Rumdual, formerly known as Koh Kho (Death Island), is a small 3 x 1 km piece of land in the middle of the Tonle Bassac River about 25 km from Phnom Penh in Kandal Province. This was once part of the infamous “Killing Fields,” which is why the inhabitants changed the name to Rumdual, which is a beautiful white flower found in Cambodia.
Years ago, this island was set up to be a widow’s colony and was supported by an NGO. But the story is that the NGO ran out of funds to cover the budget and so left nearly one hundred families stranded here. Some were handicapped, others blind, and others too poor to make a move, and others widows having many children but no husband. So all decided to stay there, surviving from what the island produced: seasonal fruits, tree leaf soup, frogs and lizards that they would hunt and grill for their meals. Their diet was far from healthy and their health condition worse.
Inhabitants range from blind, handicapped, land mine victims, some suffering from multiple sclerosis and confined to wheelchairs, and some widows with 7 or 8 children. Their houses are in a serious state of disrepair due to lack of funds, allowing the rain and insects free reign, and the numerous children in the households often suffering from the elements.
All these settlers had established themselves on this island determined not to be uprooted again. So they stayed and tried to survive there as best as they could, but life was tough.
An adage inspired us: “Pity says ‘How sad’ and walks away. --Compassion does something about it!”
We first created awareness of this sad situation amongst the Phnom Penh business community, and then set out to collect food, clothing, and cleaning materials to address their urgent needs. Part of our effort focused on teaching these poor folks the basics of cleanliness, hygiene, nutrition and simple morals.
Pastor Sokkha and his family from Takmao were first to invite us to come and assist them in helping this needy community. We worked side by side helping the poor people of the island.
EDB and SCS volunteers from Singapore join our team, shown above heading off down the river for Koh Rumdual island where they will distribute donated food.
Through our Cornerstone Project volunteer program, we have volunteers from the USA, Australia, France, Germany, Singapore, New Zealand, England, etc. who were moved to help and/or sponsor needed items for these poor families. Some bought ducklings so they could be given to the families to raise. Some gave them funds directly to help them get out of temporary difficulties. Some spent days buying building materials and fixing their huts, teaching and playing with their children.
The SMU team from Singapore was instrumental in helping us fix and rebuild 10 devastated huts, turning these into upgraded housing for several big families. You can see the difference before and after their coming! (They filmed their experience on the island, which you can view on YouTube at http://youtube.com/watch?v=IHdYJI8uZmQ )
Still we feel we have only scratched the surface and there is a lot more to do!
Start a school for the children
Some islanders are 14 or 15 years old and have never attended school, and so they are totally illiterate! Without a basic education, they will have no hopes to find a job anywhere, and thus will grow to be bums, beggars or criminals.
We began with 2 teachers teaching 30 Kindergarten age children under the house of our selected principal. The number of children wanting to attend this FREE school program increased rapidly. We also realized that they were too poor to afford breakfast and were very hungry by 10 AM, so we also started a FREE lunch program for all our school children. As time went by, many more asked if their under-school-age children could also benefit from our FREE lunches. The number of attendees grew.
Now we are building a proper school. Through an FCF grant, we were able to purchase land where we could operate freely and independently. Then teams of volunteers from Singapore came to help us and brought substantial donations with them. Ngee Ann poly helped us to build the walls, Bukit View SS helped us build the kitchen, guard house and bathrooms, SCS helped with the foundations and the dining room, Nanyang poly with the library, then a team from Sydney University of Technology came and helped us to build the storage room, meeting room and dormitory. Then SAJC, WAD, CVS, NTU, DTZ, SJAB, etc.. came and helped us continue on the project. Independent donors from HK and USA also helped.
We have now completed the ground floor of the new school and are starting the second floor.
The rainy season arrives in 5 months so we urgently need to build the roof, as the ceiling of the ground floor is not waterproof. The contractor is asking 11,000 USD for that, and we need to raise this funding! Can you help with some of this amount?
Island Children’s Sponsorship Program
You can also help the children by directly sponsoring their studies.
US$20 per month per child will cover all their basic needs: food, drink, clothing, toiletries and medical checkups. Select a child below and tell us for how long you wish to sponsor him or her. We, the Cornerstone Project managers, will be directly involved and will personally oversee the use of your money.
You can donate online, using the link below, mentioning Cornerstone Project A04 Cambodia/ Child sponsorship Koh Rumdual Island.
(And simultaneously write us at firstname.lastname@example.org to inform us of your gift and the name of the child you wish to sponsor. We will answer you and provide regular updates on the progress of your chosen child.)