It all began with two Vorarlberg couples and four very special Cambodian children. We – Gabi and Johannes Thurnher from Rankweil and Sabine and Martin Tumler from Dornbirn – were very lucky to each adopt two wonderful children from Cambodia. They are the cornerstone of the project – without them the most valuable part of our life would be missing and our beautiful Tani Children’s Village would never have come into being.
Cambodia is a very special country, in many ways. The country in which our children were born is on the one hand beautiful, with friendly and open people, but also marked by decades of war and genocide – by poverty that hurts. Children who live alone on the streets, children who starve and die because of lack of medical care and many grievances, which should not “be” at all in today’s world, nowhere else in the world.
In 2008 we founded the association “Tani, Perspectives for Children in Cambodia” with the aim of building a small children’s village there. Already in May 2009, the children’s village in the community of Tani, not far from the Vietnamese border, was officially opened.
Our visionWe wanted to create at least a loving and protected home for some impoverished and helpless children, to give them a solid and good education to change their home Cambodia for the better. The children should simply “be able to be children” again, feel the feeling of community and cohesion, learn from each other. They should learn very basic and important things in rural Cambodia: like hygiene, handling animals, agriculture, vegetable and rice cultivation.
With the help and support of special people, our vision has developed into a children’s village with very concrete goals: to create a family-like, clean and stable environment, to convey security and values to the children, to strengthen their social competence, good health care, balanced and healthy nutrition and a solid education – a new perspective. All children attend public school and receive supplementary instruction in English, Khmer, agriculture and other skills at the Children’s Village. Each of our children is something special and we strive to make each child as individual as possible – according to talent and ability to support and promote.
Growing upSince February 2013, there has been close contact with Don Bosco Kep. First, chairwoman Ursula Beyer and then chairman Johannes Thurnher visited the training centre for various professions in Kep. After completing compulsory schooling or between the ages of 18 and 23, the young people can learn a profession (electrician, IT, journalism or hotel management) during a two-year apprenticeship at the Don Bosco Project in Kep or in Sihanoukville. This gives them a solid basic education for a good future of their own.
The Children’s Village at a GlanceAt present, 27 children and young people between the ages of 8 and 21 live in the Children’s Village. A total of 7 very committed housemothers take care of their mental and physical well-being. In addition, some male employees take care of the safety of the children and housemothers, work in agriculture, look after the animals, carry out repairs and construction work. Seven young people are in training at Don Bosco.
Since July 2017 our children’s village has been run by Mr. Nguon Veasna with a lot of heart and mind. His deputy is Mrs. Chanthou Pen. Both are native Cambodians who grew up in very modest circumstances and know the needs of their fellow countrymen. Veasna has already worked in Phnom Penh at the management level of non-profit organisations and can contribute his experience well to our project.
In addition, volunteers from Austria work regularly for up to 12 months in the Tani Children’s Village. They also make a valuable contribution. They are supported and accompanied by a small, well-rehearsed board team in Vorarlberg and Coburg, which complements each other wonderfully and ensures on a voluntary basis that everything runs as smoothly as possible and that the children’s village is financially secure in the long term.
The infrastructure in the Children’s VillageThere is a main house with an office, training rooms, accommodation for volunteers, a kitchen with a covered canteen and lounge, a washhouse, two small workshops and four traditionally built Khmer children’s houses. There live about 5-7 children and teenagers with their housemothers. There is also a playground, a small sports field, two large vegetable fields, fruit trees and rice fields. Our children’s village is financed by child and project sponsors, the sale of cookbooks, private donations, company sponsors and various benefit events.
Note on administrative and travel expensesThere are no administrative costs in Europe as all work is done on a voluntary basis. All travel expenses are also borne exclusively by private individuals and are NOT covered by donations.