Dennis Hopkins and his wife, Hilary, had been thinking about sponsoring a child. Then at the start of this year, a trip was hurriedly arranged by their son for the family to meet up in Cambodia. It seemed like the perfect opportunity to visit an SOS Children’s Village and see a newly sponsored child.
Visting SOS Children's Village Siem Reap - a real adventure!
Since all the arrangements were last minute, Dennis describes how he didn’t think to check the location of the SOS Village at Angkor Siem Reap and there were no address details on the SOS website. However, he and his family felt this was a positive thing, helping to maintain the privacy and safety of the children. With the help of a local tuk-tuk driver, Dennis eventually found the Village and describes how the next day, he and his family were shown such kind hospitality by the SOS staff and mothers.
A different sort of welcome...
Dennis was keen to stress that he and his family were in no way disappointed, because the children “aren’t there for our benefit!” As visitors, they were simply glad to experience a small slice of life at Siem Reap in such a “happy and welcoming environment”.The saying goes that you should never work with children and animals. When Dennis and his family were taken to the nursery to visit their sponsored little girl, they were “mobbed by a wave of smiling, excited children, with one exception!” Their sponsored 5-year-old was clearly having an “off day” and looked glum while her friends chattered and laughed. Dennis says “we found it highly amusing that we travelled thousands of miles to see her and she was the only one not the slightest bit interested. But that’s children for you – you cannot predict.”
A memorable visit to SOS Children’s Village Bataan
In February this year, Mark Jenner contacted us to say he was visiting the Philippines and would like to meet his sponsored child. We put Mark in touch with the local sponsorship coordinator in the Philippines, who helped him arrange his visit to the Children’s Village at Bataan.
A good first impression
Mark says “on going to the site with my companion Paula, the first impressions were very good. The whole place was bright and clean and had an air of happiness about it. As soon as I saw some of the kids, they were waving, smiling and coming up to me and putting my hand on their foreheads, a sign of respect there.”
Mark and Paula were taken to meet the Village Director who chatted to them about the history of SOS Children’s Villages in the Philippines. He also spoke to them about the children and their care at the Village.
Spending quality time with Malcolm
After lunch, Mark met his sponsored child, Malcolm* and says “what a smashing little lad” he is, with a really infectious smile (which can be seen in the photo of Malcom with Mark above). Malcolm loves gardening and animals and took Mark to see the Village vegetable patch and the animals. Mark describes how “we fed the pigs and he seemed to know what to do and just got on with it”. Mark sees this as a good sign that through their upbringing the children are encouraged to think for themselves and to be responsible.
"I was so proud of him"
Of his trip overall, Mark says “I did not want to say goodbye to Malcolm, a kid with so many smiles. Malcolm has some learning problems, but all I could see was a bright happy boy. He was saying words in English and he knows all his plants by name. I was so proud of him. I was also very proud of all the SOS mums who work so endlessly hard for the benefit of the children and the staff for all their commitment to the welfare of those in their care. Thank you SOS Children’s Village Bataan.”
Visiting your sponsored child or Children's Village
Our sponsors are welcome to visit their sponsored child or Children's Village. However, it is very important that you make contact with our office here in the UK before doing so. Please visit our FAQs page to learn more...
We have been working in Cambodia for 15 years, and the Philippines since the 1960s. We are dedicated to giving orphans and vulnerable children in both countries a loving home and the same opportunities as other children.
*Name has been changed to protect our children's privacy