Reigning Miss Belgium Lenty Frans travelled to Cambodia last month to check in on an educational project opened and financed by the hard work of the Miss Belgium contestants.
Alongside Belgian charity Hope for the Children, the Miss Belgium Organisation has brought optimism to the rural village of Rong Vean, building a school to provide education for 200 children, at a time when there was neither water nor electricity. Initially financing the build in 2013 with a €23,000 donation to kick start the project, the contestants have been providing additional funding since, increasing the scope of the project year on year.
As the children develop, new challenges have arisen. The nearest secondary school is in a neighboring village, but not close enough for a daily commute. Living conditions for the students was appalling, with 25 girls sharing a tiny 2 room house. The Miss Belgium Organisation has promised to donate €2,000 annually so the children can rent a clean house close to the school, so they can fulfill their potential.
Inside the newly rented house for the pupils of the secondary school
The driving force behind this project is Sinthay, a Rong Vean native and friend of the Belgian doctor Thierry Dalewyn. He and the doctor met each other when they were working on the border of Thailand and Cambodia for the organization ‘Doctors Without Borders’. Together they want to help the children in the village where Sinthay was born. The Miss Belgium Organization decided to financially help them to achieve this goal.
During her trip, Lenty visited various locations in Cambodia to learn more about the culture of Cambodia.
A medical student, Lenty was keen to visit the Angkor Hospital for children, where she also spent time assisting the staff
The next step in the project is to help the village to become self-sufficient. A guesthouse is to be built, and several of the older children sent to a training camp the learn about the hospitality industry. Hoping to open in Summer 2017, the guesthouse will provide jobs and income to the village, as well as a way of sharing their society with the outside world.
Presenting the cheque for the guest house construction - with work already underway behind!
An artists impression of what the guest house will look like upon completion
“I was there only one week, but this was enough to give me impressions that will stay forever. I really enjoyed every moment and the people from Hope for the Children really create opportunities.” Said Lenty about her visit, continuing “We may provide them a lot of tools, but ultimately they are the ones who must accomplish it… The enthusiasm and sincerity of these children is something I will never forget.”