The orphanage is a collection of a dozen houses surrounding a large, oval park area
. It's a small, enclosed village really. We spoke with the director and toured the grounds. The children were all very polite and friendly. Each building houses 10 children and a "mother." The mother is a childless woman from the area who moves into the village and takes care of the children. Each home has two bedrooms with bunk beds (one for boys, the other for girls). There is also a bathroom and kitchen, as well as a sitting area. Everything was incredibly neat and clean. The children have chores, but most of them were playing in the park area while we were there. All of them stopped to bow and greet the director, as well as Lindsey and I. As we walked the director pointed out a couple of students calling them by name and telling us that their parents were killed in a car accident. It was apparent that he knew the students and their stories. One of the most impressive part of the experience was that there was no obvious donation box or request of funds. It is clearly a worthy cause, but we had to ask if they even accepted donations (they do).
I interviewed the director, and I have some other information. If I ever put together an article, I'll post it on here. Or if you know a newspaper that would like to give me some money, send them my way.
I may try to write an article about this experience, so I won't go into too much detail. I will say that the information I posted previously on the orphanage was incorrect. I hadn't yet visited the region and was using my Let's Go for some of the specifics of the orphanage. The S.O.S. program runs an orphanage and a school, which are adjacent to one another. We visited both while in Phonsavan. Let's Go (which is written by Harvard students) stated that the orphanage had 800 occupants, many whose parents suffered UXO accidents. The orphanage is actually only home to 120 children. The school has 800 students, but they are separate entities. And the school does not require its students to be orphans. The S.O.S. program has schools and orphanages throughout the country, and I don't have the overall statistics yet. So the numbers were incorrect, but the program is still important, as is the plight of the orphans.