Odd Fellows SOS Village
An Exciting new orphanage project to be named "Odd Fellows Village" was introduced at the 2003 Sessions of The Sovereign Grand Lodge in Halifax, Nova Scotia by the incoming Sovereign Grand Master, Henry "Hank" Dupray and adopted. The village will consist of 15 family homes, a social centre, a medical facility and kindergarten facility will house approximately 150 orphaned and AIDS affected children ages 0-12. The village is a joint project in conjunction with SOS Kinderdorf International will be built in Battam Bang in the Kingdom of Cambodia.
The Kingdom of Cambodia lies at the far South of Indochina in southeast Asia. The total area of the country is approximately 181,040 square kilometers and the capital is Phnom Penh with around 900,000 inhabitants. In all, Cambodia has a population of around 11 million. The largest population group is the Khmer (94%) and the official religion is Buddhism. Around 75% of central Cambodia is a basin landscape, which is surrounded by mountains along the border with Thailand. Coastal areas are characterized by narrow plateaus and numerous islands off the coast. Cambodia has a tropical monsoon climate. In the rainy season from mid April to October, the Mekong River swells and feed the Tonie Sap Lake. During this time, almost every year, heavy flooding plagues the country.
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In 1999, as soon as the stabilizing of political relations had brought about a little calm for the sorely afflicted Cambodian population, SOS-Kinderdorf International struck an agreement with the Cambodian government to build SOS Children's Villages and thereby bring Hermann Gmeiner's ideas to the country and relieve some of the distress of the many children in need. During decades of war, thousands of children lost their parents and because of the lingering precarious economic and social situation in the country, many parents are not in a position to look after their children.
In 2000, the Cambodian SOS Children's Village Association was founded and as early as the beginning of 2001, 120 Children along with their SOS Mothers were able to move into the first SOS Children's Village in the capital Phnom Penh. The second SOS Children's Village, located in Siem Reap on the main road to the famous temples of Angkor Wat was ready for operation in October 2002.
The need for suitable facilities for orphaned and abandoned children is still enormous. The limited means of the government are required for fundamental improvements in the infrastructure. Around 35% of the population live below the poverty line and rarely have access to the educational system. The head of the Cambodian government both greatly value and support the work of SOS Children's villages and ask for more facilities to be built in the country. Thus the birth of "Odd Fellows Village' in Battam Bang.
As with most towns near to a boarder there is a high level of crime. In particular, Battam Bang is a crossroads for the trade of children. Prostitution and drugs which is primarily responsible for the rise in AIDS that inevitably has hit the children - the weakest members of society. The government has approached SOS-Kinderdorf International asking for the construction of a third SOS Children's Village and a suitable site in Battam Bang has already been made available thus the birth of Odd Fellows Village Cambodia.
This exciting project is one we can call our own. Much like Norway's new Odd Fellow Village in San Vicente, El Salvador it gives us a purpose, a new direction and at the same time fulfills two tenants of our Order - relieving the distress and educating the Orphan. The construction cost of this project is approximately $1,550,000 USD with an annual running cost of approximately $200,000 USD.
In June of this past year, I was honoured to accompany the Grand Sire of Norway Harald Thoen and representatives of SOS Kinderdorf International to the country of El Salvador for the purpose of laying a cornerstone for their new SOS Odd Fellow Village. This orphanage project fits right into my program for the coming year "Charting the course toward Unity" bringing us together world wide in a common bond.
Since June the Brothers and Sisters of Norway (approximately 23,000 members) have raised $2,535,000 to cover the construction cost of their village. To start the Battam Bung Village, we need to raise $125,000 by December for land and development costs.
I am asking all Brothers and Sisters in the United States and Canada to adopt this village as your project. Go out into your community with fundraisers. When the members of your community realize you are working for children they will want to be a part of this exciting venture. As Kevin Costner in the movie Field of Dreams stated, 'build it and they will come'.
Please forward all checks to The Sovereign Grand Lodge noting in the remarks section SOS Children's Village Fund.
Thanking you in advance for your cooperation.
Henry "Hank" Dupray, PSGM