Two weeks ago, Little Hearts welcomed several members of the Soma Initiative, led by Soma Group’s Chief Marketing Officer, Ms. Tea Kaliane. They not only came to learn about Little Hearts and its residents, but also arrived with a van loaded with rice, books and clothes for the kids, as well as a financial contribution.
Soma Group is a locally owned conglomerate of ten companies active in agriculture, education, hospitality and real estate, among others, with a vision of building world-class business solutions to shape a better future for Cambodia. They aim to generate positive local impact on communities through sustainable solutions. The Soma Initiative is a group-wide project that focuses on this goal specifically in the education, health and environment sectors. The group was a finalist in the 2021 European Chamber of Commerce (Cambodia) awards in the CSR Project category.
In search of a new organization to support, and through the help of our CSR consultant, Lyze Bentoto, Soma Initiative came in contact with Little Hearts. Upon hearing about our work and especially about our commitment to look beyond our walls and contribute to the greater community – for instance, through our Random Acts of Kindness events and our efforts to teach English to local children – Soma Initiative decided to pay us a visit.
Eight Soma Group executives involved in the Soma Initiative arrived on a Monday morning and peeked into our busy English classrooms before being given a full tour by the kids. Michael and Elizabeth showed them the art gallery with the kids’ impressive artwork and handmade postcards, which the guests greatly enjoyed. We presented them with a lovely painting by Michael as thanks for their donations and support. Sarem and Malee took them to see the front garden, including the pond water wheel we made and the two little sugar gliders we keep as pets. Then, Mickey and Dalin brought them to the library – newly stocked with their donated books! Ilang and Ben showed them around in the kitchen, where our newly designated chef, Makhun, was preparing a scrumptious meal for the kids and the visitors. They also inspected the vegetable garden with Sothon and Olivia, and then ended their tour with our caretakers, Roxanne and Phatje, to see the kids’ upstairs sleeping quarters.
Sitting down to lunch, our guests chatted with the children and complimented Makhun’s cooking before the kids left for school (they are currently on an afternoon rotation). Soma Initiative members stayed for additional talks with Little Hearts staff and agreed to continue to support us in the future, for example by sending experts in IT and agriculture to help us manage our computing and Internet needs and to enhance our vegetable garden.
The following Saturday, Soma generously sponsored a table for Little Hearts at Bazaar Market, an arts and crafts fair hosted by The Commune (a new real estate development in Phnom Penh), so that our art students could display and sell their artwork as well as host an art workshop. The event was a great success (despite a brief but heavy downpour), with many visitors stopping by the Little Hearts stand to hear about our mission and history, and plenty of parents bringing their children to participate in the painting and drawing activities hosted by our young artists. The kids (Michael, Elizabeth, Sarem, Dalin and Ilay) had the opportunity to interact with many bazaar attendees and to show off their skills with the brush. We also received substantial monetary donations and made some promising contacts.
We are glad to welcome Soma Group as a new supporter and to be part of the Soma Initiative. A heartfelt thank you to Lyze for making this connection and to Kaliane for her keen interest in helping Little Hearts. We look forward to a long and productive partnership with the Soma Group.