Cambodia, 2012 | orphanage renovation

PROJECT: the Little Angel orphanage, Siem Reap, Cambodia. The mission of this project was to renovate the dormitory and to help make this building more livable for the children and youth.

INITIATOR: Lida Ghaemi, restaurant owner, California

TIMING: April- May, 2012
COLLABORATORS: Droom Boon, members of the Cambodian community in the Bay Area, CERI



Status: completed! WE DID IT!!!

About: In 2011, Lida, a Bay Area restaurant owner with a long history in charity work, visited the Siem Reap orphanage and fell in love with the 200 children living there. The orphans are of all ages and able to go to school, but also bring in a little money to support their room and board by producing and selling crafts during non-school hours. The orphanage, which is not supported by the government, lacks basic facilities (like showers, for example), is extremely run down and in dire need of all-around repairs. The mission of this project is to renovate the dormitory and to help make this building more livable for the children and youth.

To make this happen, Lida consulted with several Bay Area support groups such as Droom Boon and the Center for Empowering Refugees and Immigrants (CERI), who agreed to help with advice, project management and fundraising. Even more help will come from a group of survivors of the Khmer Rouge genocide, who in April 2012 are returning to Cambodia—some for the first time after 30 years—to visit their homeland. Through Lida’s initiative and together with added hands-on support from CERI staff, they will carry out the actual renovation work on a pro bono basis, between April 12th-29th, 2012.

The children at Little Angel are very excited and want to help as much as they can, so they collectively decided to reward all donations $100 and up with one of the beautiful art pieces they make by hand in their shop.

100% of the funds collected went towards purchasing the construction materials needed for the renovation, and we’d be happy to show to those interested how money has been spent for this project.

This is what we got done:

– the dormitory’s old ceiling was molded and thin, leaving the kids to boil in the high temperatures created under the metal roof. We took down all the rotting panels and replaced them with sheet rock, which will keep the children comfortable, more safe and cool

– the old generator was broken, so the orphanage was in a dire need for a more stable electricity source. We repaired and cleaned it, so now the generator is in full working condition

– we replaced the old W.C.s with regular, Western- style toilets, cleaner and safer for the children

– before the renovation, the kids were washing by scooping water out of a big, open clay jar and pouring it over themselves. We created outdoors showers by updating a water tower for collecting and cleaning rainwater, and connecting it through pipes to 9 shower heads in an enclosed washing area

– we opened, cleaned and child-proofed the old fountain, now able to provide water to the entire orphanage through the water pump installed to the side

– the children did not have personal lockers. We cleaned and repaired a back room that now serves as a locker room, and bought lockers for all the kids in the orphanage. They were soo happy to finally have a separate place for their little things… and can you believe that before April there was no mirror in the camp?!?

– we repaired the kitchen cupboards, as the old ones were falling apart

– we bought personal hygiene items for everybody and pillows for all beds

– we equipped the school with books, supplies, a printer

– all the money left was used to buy food supplies, such as rice,flour, beans, dried fruits and veggies, spices, etc.

In all, we tried to bring some love, some light and some hope to the >150 children at Little Angel. We tried to teach them how to respect themselves and each other. We tried to show them they are good, they are beautiful, and they have everything they need to grow up kind, honest, humans that are worth the world.


Great day to do some good, isn’t it?

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