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K.I.D.S. International – Two people with commitment help thousands in Southeast Asia

April 25, 2012

Although I write about nonprofits in the lower mainland, I was so inspired by the people behind K.I.D.S. International from Nanaimo that I had to write about it. I think you will see why.

In my last post (A cool $1 million in photographs for CEF), I wrote about Compassionate Eye Foundation and the work it is doing in many parts of the world including Cambodia. The Compassionate Eye partners with on-the-ground organizations to more effectively deliver its services. In Cambodia, that organization is K.I.D.S. International, a small Nanaimo-based nonprofit driven by two caring people, Adrianne Dartnall and Rick Lennert, who turned a personal tragedy into a mission to help others.

When I had a chance to talk with Adrianne and Rick at CEF’s party last week, she told me that the people along the Stung Sen River in Cambodia had been without medical care for six months due to the severe floods in the area. While working with an organization called the Lake Clinic, they saw the need for a floating clinic for the 20-25,000 people living without medical care along the Stung Sten River and approached CEF to help with funding. The day that the mobile clinic (see earlier post) opened, people were lined up waiting to be seen, having travelled for many kilometres to be there. What does the new clinic mean to the people in this impoverished and remote region? As one woman told Adrianne, “Without the clinic, when we get sick we die.”

The people in the region have nothing. Adrianne told me about a woman whose husband died leaving her with 10 children. Unable to bury him, the woman had to weight him down with rocks and throw his body in the river. She tried to take over his fishing in order to support her family but it was very difficult. K.I.D.S. helped her by fixing her house, buying fishing nets to help her feed her children , and obtaining treatment for her sick children. “These are difficult choices,” Adrianne said. “Who do you help, because everyone is in dire straits.”

Rick and Adrianne have also travelled many kilometres in their search for peace and wellness after the death of their only daughter. They started in Kerala, India, in 2001 working in an ashram for the homeless.  Many of the people were ill and most of the children were orphans.  Adrianne and Rick renovated the daycare and bought school supplies with their own funds. In 2002, they went to Phnom Penh, Cambodia where so many people had lost their children during the Khmer Rouge genocide. “They stole our hearts,” Adrianne said. She and Rick renovated a school and bought school supplies.

As time went on, other people, hearing their story, started giving them money and wanted to help. In 2004, Rick and Adrianne set up K.I.D.S. International Kids International Development Society as a nonprofit society, brought in a dedicated board of directors, and built a strong base of donors who share their passion. Two years later they became a registered Canadian charity. Rick and Adrianne personally, and with K.I.D.S. International, have extended their reach into Cambodia, Myanmar (Burma), Thailand/Myanmar border, India and Vietnam.

“On these projects we get to know and work with those who have lost children,” Adrianne explains, “and we’ve been inspired by their capacity to transform their grieving into meaningful work. We’ve come to understand that suffering is a part of life and can’t be avoided. It’s what we do with our pain and grief that matters.”

How can two people do so much? And with so little. In the fiscal year 2010/2011, their revenue was just under $140,000. Rick points out that they couldn’t do their work without the incredible partnerships they have created, like the one with Compassionate Eye Foundation. If you would like to follow along on Rick and Adrianne’s journey, go to Adrianne and Ricks’ Blogspot . And keep tuned here because Adrianne and Rick will be sharing more of their stories on Giving Is Receiving. Below are recent highlights of K.I.D.S. International’s work, in addition to the mobile clinic described above.

In Cambodia:

  1. supports the Somnang House Girls Home, which provides a safe, stable and loving home for orphaned or abandoned girls.
  2. provides supplies for the occupational therapy department and a respirator for the Angkor Hospital for Children, Siem Reap.
  3. continues to fully fund Srey Po Village Free School, which K.I.D.S. built four years ago for children living in an isolated village in northern Cambodia.  Also provides each child with a hot lunch, clean water, medicine and clothing.
  4. funds teachers for an on-site kindergarten program for a weaving cooperative (Stung Treng Women’s Development Centre), enabling children to go to school while their mothers work to provide for their families.
  5. provides school supplies, school fees, bicycles, English lessons and other needed support to ensure 25 very poor children in the Phnom Penh, Siem Reap area can attend school and receive an education ranging from primary school to university.
  6. built a floating school for approximately 280 children living in a remote village on the Tonle Sap Lake.
  7. funds various needed supplies and programs for the Lake Clinic which serves remote floating villages on the Tonle Sap Lake and the Stueng Sen River, including funding for the Cambodian doctor and nurse/midwife.
  8. built a classroom and provided a new computer for a new school built by New Hope, an NGO that brings education and healthcare to children and families living in the Mondul slum area of Siem Reap.  

Two years ago K.I.D.S. purchased land for the Agape School and Boarding House, Mae Sot, Thailand which provides free education to over 300 refugee children and a safe home for 100 children. K.I.D.S. continues to support Agape with its lunch program, school supplies, medicine, rice and clothing.

K.I.D.S. continues to provide families with small grants, sewing machines, medicine, school supplies and other needed materials to assist families to earn a living and care for and improve the lives of their children. It also supplies several orphanages, shelters and schools with school supplies, uniforms, bicycles, tables, desks, fencing and building supplies, including last year when they provided tables for 600 refugee children who live at a combination boarding house/orphanage/school on the Burma/Thailand border. It also works on various potable water projects.

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