First, the story
During my childhood, I was keen on drawing all 350 Pokemons. I used to sell those sketches to my classmates, for candies. Two years ago, I started drawing portraits for people all around the globe. It was mostly to pay for my college education (and to travel a little bit too!). I even became a 2 Level Seller on the sensational website fiverr.com, making more than 150 portraits. It’s just by the beginning of 2015 that I decided to make a big step and to start my own initiative. That’s how 99drawings came to birth!
but between the first night where I recorded my first drawing to this same day the road has been long. Lack of motivation was hiding behind “busy life” and “endless procrastination”. It took me a while -a year to be precise- to finally get this project going. But Why?
Simply because the heart was not there… Deep down I knew that I needed a purpose beyond myself to continue. I didn’t want to spend all my free time drawing peoples latest tattoos and cherished pets. Don’t get me wrong! It can be a lot of fun: one day a guy made me draw 5 portraits of his cow! Moreover, making a living doing something that I absolutely love is just amazing. But there I was, stuck and unable to finish what I started. Until that weekend in…
Koh Rong Island
I had the great chance of doing an internship in Cambodia during the summer of 2015. This allowed me to visit the islands near Sihanoukville several times.
Among all the lovely islands there I particularly loved Koh Rong Samloem. I have there some of the best memories of my life! I was deeply touched by the simplicity of the community and at the same time worried about the rapidly changing landscape there. I was also very surprised by the work of “Friends of Koh Rong” (a local organization started by tourists) to empower the community and the children on island.
The kids of that island were tougher and braver than most people I had ever known. Like that local boy who joined us when we went fishing. He was jumping around the small boat like a boss -while I was dizzy to death-, catching more fishes than 5 grown adults. A true Captain.
I remember thinking of him and all his little friends on the bus back to the capital Phnom Penh. I remember dreaming of this piece of heaven and its people months after I got back to Europe. The spirits of Koh Rong just wouldn’t leave me alone. That’s when I realized that if I wanted my drawing project to succeed I had to do it for the others. Not for me.
I knew I had to help.
25% of all sales of 99drawings will be donated to “Friends of Koh Rong”. The money raised will go directly to helping the people of Koh Rong island live bigger and brighter futures.
When Jackie Patterson and her friend started this local organization back in 2013 with little more than pencils and notebooks teaching lessons in a makeshift classroom on a pier, they didn’t know that their little adventure will grow in leaps and bounds. They made of English education the core of their mission, as the ability to use English has a very real and immediate impact on a person’s ability to earn a living wage.
They work directly with the community, employing local teachers to act as role models and educators in their own community. They want to empower and inspire the local people so they can pick up the challenge of change in the future.
FoKR also strive to improve the community through improving infrastructure, access to health care and good nutrition. Creating environmental awareness and giving the children the opportunity to express their creativity is part of their daily duties too. And to get an idea of how much creativity these kids can have check this AWESOME video!
Make sure to follow their page on Facebook here and their website here. They are always looking for ambassadors that can help in any way, organize fund-raising events and promote the island to their local communities.