Brian and Deirdre O’Ruairc light up when they share the success stories of children who’ve spent much of their young lives at the Cambodian orphanage that has been a focus of fundraising by the Rotary Club of SouthSurrey.
One has grown up to become a midwife; another will soon be an architect; and yet another is training to be a tour guide.
“That is a big success story,” said Brian, during an interview at the couple’s White Rock home last week.
“The funding that has gone in there has been very effective and very positive,” added Deirdre. “It’s been a worthwhile project.”
At that time, the compound that 38 children called home – founded in 2007 by the Amsterdam-based Float Foundation – was little more than three tin-roof shacks.
Through fundraising, improvements over the years since have included a major overhaul of the girls’ dormitory –windows and doors were installed, indoor toilets added and dividing walls put in – upgrades to the boys’ dormitory, and construction of a proper kitchen, complete with tiled floors and a stainless steel sink and table.
But “major upgrades” are still needed, said Brian, who travelled to Cambodia last month to check in on the facility and returned with a lengthy list of projects.
“I was just going to check that they had used the money that we sent them for what we sent it for,” he said.
But during the visit, he realized there wasn’t anyone properly trained to do the work.
The list of 14 projects includes such tasks as replacing desktops that are coming apart, building a wall to separate the children’s eating/study area, fixing rotting-out posts and adding closets to the dormitories.
But, Brian said, most pressing is the need to improve the orphanage’s electrical and sewage systems.
Currently, two washrooms behind the girls’ dormitory drain into the ground next to a well; and, pumps are burning out due to shoddy electrical. Much existing wiring hangs loose or is not safely secured.
He hopes to return to the orphanage next January to oversee the work – none of which, he emphasized, is done without consultation with orphanage administrators, staff and the area Rotary club.
“We don’t do anything unless they want it,” Brian said.
The O’Ruaircs are hoping Rotary can raise $10,000 locally for the work; and that it will be supported by federal government funding and a global grant from Rotary International.
“Between the Rotary grant and Canadian government, we could turn that into $60,000,” Deirdre said.
For information on donating, contact the O’Ruaircs at 604-538-6765 or Rotary Club of South Surrey presidentPatrick Hahn at 604-671-0443.