The last few weeks have seen Cambodia’s most serious COVID outbreak leading to city-wide lockdowns, food markets closed and extreme travel restrictions. Yet despite the new challenges the resilience, adaptability and determined positive spirit of the kids here has been nothing short of inspirational.
At Little Hearts markets closing led to food prices rising unpredictably and many of our usual suppliers no longer available. Banks, hospitals, postal service and simply the ability for staff to travel to LH or home have all been disrupted in ways we could never have anticipated. The ferry closure meant some staff could not travel to Little Hearts and we became completely isolated from the rest of the world.
Isolated but stronger together
Yet despite these new challenges, the kids have not only continued to impress but at times awed the team with their dedication as they worked together to overcome all obstacles to pursuing their education. With these big changes to normal life, it was perhaps aptly still the little things that we have noticed the most. The kids giving up their small library room for staff who couldn’t travel home to sleep, borrowing materials from neighbours to construct beds for staff that couldn’t travel home, rationing food to achieve zero food waste and their unending resolve to stay solution focussed.
When they realised that one staff member had only brought clothes for a weekend and would not be able to leave for the next few weeks, one by one the older kids were seen pulling staff aside having gone through their own clothes to see if they had anything that would fit. It’s been a very humbling experience to be a Little Hearts in lockdown and has a child whose own shoes are nearly worn through literally offering you the shirt off their back.
The kids at Little Hearts have pulled collectively, having to manage with much less and do much more to keep moving forward together. Yet despite the new challenges, they reminded us that every cloud has a silver lining. The kids have not only persevered through difficult circumstance to continue their studies online, but with more time together at home, they have also developed a host of new projects this month.
Creative Lockdown Projects
Our youngest kids in level 1 have got creative reorganising our cleaning store and painting murals to match the four cleaning teams Butterfly, Cobra, Hummingbird and Dragon. They also repurposed a broken old bicycle to create a planter display and abstract art feature for the gardens.
Level 2 started new projects including one to create some amazing furniture from discarded glass bottles. They also used some left-over paints and old newspapers to transform the windows in their class into dioramas including a solar system they created from paper mâché and another showing ecosystem under the sea. The projects became a great learning tool with even the smaller kids now recognising the different planets and asking questions about space.
The oldest kids are also showing their creativity and eagerness to learn about the world joining their desks together to make a geopolitical world map that will be a centrepiece for the Model UN debates they have started as part of their global perspective’s studies. They’ve begone exploring ‘forces’ together and had the chance to apply some of their new knowledge of science to make their own projects at home with two team creating prototypes of ‘tensegrity’ structures and going as far as teaching themselves to create a water pump using discarded plastic, bamboo and a small motor recommissioned from a broken toy.
Motivation and Inspiration
Like most of the world, the kids miss school and being to go outside to play. We have had to be more careful with budgets especially food and normal celebrations such as Khmer New Year and the kids’ birthdays had to be scaled back a lot this year. Yet there is always an optimistic and strong spirit at Little Hearts and travel restrictions have given more time at home for the family to learn and grow together.
The strength of their spirit, compassion and generosity of the kids has been nothing short of inspiring. It gives real hope for the future that it is these kids, the ones who started with the least, that will in time be rebuilding a brighter future for all of Cambodia.
With the kids giving up so much lately due to COVID we are reminded each day of the difference our sponsors make. The most touching moments here are always the joy you see in when their little faces light up like Christmas at the genuine appreciation for the smallest things. A new pair of shoes, some new books to practice their English, some corn starch with food colouring, some old wine bottles they can use for their next art project, tennis balls. That authentic joy and genuine gratitude that’s becoming so rare in kids now is the one thing we have in abundance here every time even the smallest donation from a sponsor makes something new possible for the little heart’s kids.