The Courier & Advertiser (Perth and Perthshire Edition)
Fiona’s five-year journey to Cambodian orphanage
A FORMER nurse is to travel to Cambodia to help care for disadvantaged children.
Fiona Martin will jet off to the capital city, Phnom Penh, on Tuesday and will spend the next month living and working at the House of Hope orphanage.
Fiona, who lives in Auchterarder, was inspired to undertake the trip following her divorce five years ago but only recently decided that the time was right to travel to the southeast Asian country.
She will take with her a suitcase full of donated toys and clothes, including baseball caps gifted by Gleneagles Hotel, for the 21 children who call the orphanage home.
Fiona, who works with Pe r t h charity Churches Action for the Homeless (CATH), underwent extensive background checks prior to being accepted for the work, which is being undertaken with volunteer organisation Projects Abroad.
“I have to take my disclosure out with me — they are quite strict on that,” she said.
“I’m very impressed on how strict everything is for going over.
“From 8am to 3.30pm, five days a week, I’m going to work with poor, sick, abandoned and disabled children.
“I will take care of their basic everyday needs, like washing, dressing and feeding them.
“Because I was a trained nurse, I’ll probably get to help a little bit with basic nursing care.”
Fiona said that recent changes in her life made her decide to take the trip she began planning some time ago.
She said: “Five years ago I split up with my husband and at the time I really wanted to do something useful.
“I paid the deposit (for the trip) but I wasn’t really strong enough to go — it wasn’t nice going through a divorce after such a long relationship — so I phoned them and told them it might be too much for me to do and they held it for me.
“I thought that this year, as I was 50 and I’m going to be a granny with my first grandchild in August, I would finally do the trip.”
She added that she was not put off by the prospect of being surrounded by teenage volunteers on their gap years.
“I’m really excited and can’t wait to get on the plane,” she said.
“I’ll probably be one of the older volunteers there, but never mind. “It’s still a learning experience and that’s what I want to do it for.
“I fly out on Tuesday and I come back on May 5. It’s a long time to be away from your safety net but I’m really looking forward to it.
“I’m a wee bit scared as well because it’s a really big thing for me to do this by myself, but everyone’s been really supportive.
“I’ve also had a lot of nice things donated for the kids.
“Just by speaking to people, they’ve offered me things to take out.”
Fiona is also a keen fundraiser and to date has raised £13,000 for Breast Cancer Care and £3,000 for the Teenage Cancer Trust.
“I’m really excited and can’t wait to get on the plane.”