Updates from The Schools, Kamau, Chanthai and The Guesthouse

In CategoryJohns blog
Byadmin

 

BEFORE WE GET TO THE INTRODUCTORY PARAGRAPHS -

- we have updated a number of “Pages” – photographs have been added to the “Village Children’ Page and in particular the …

DONATE” Page is as SECURE and as SIMPLE as it could possibly be:

 

TWO DONATE OPTIONS:

1. If you use the Paypal button (Donate Page to the left of screen) we have your DONATION available to us in Cambodia within TWO DAYS of you clicking ‘send’.

2.The RAWCS  (Rotary Australia World Community Service) is now a ‘hyperlink” and that is through Rotary (obviously) and gets to us within a week.  The hyperlink is http://www.rawcs.org.au  (click on it and search for our project – The project name is  “Cambodia 55 2007-08″ …. we were registered as that name and number – International project – BEFORE naming it EducatingCambodia, so the above registration name and number is how to find us  through this RAWCS donation pathway- it will take you one minute to find the project.

Its up to you which you might choose – PayPal or RAWCS – Members of Rotary tend to choose the Rotary (RAWCS)  link and that is partly because  - within Australia donations are tax deductible – for anyone.  ANYONE can donate through either the Paypal link OR the RAWCS link. The PayPal link is easier and just as secure but Rotarians might prefer the Rotary pathway.

We will start with introductory notes for all first time visitors to our website: The paragraphs below, in italics, appear before every post.

(If you would like to talk with us, the ‘Contacts’ Page is near the top of the Contents list to your left – along with how to ‘Donate’ and lots more.)

“If you are new to our projects or haven’t visited this site for a while –here’s how it works:

Whenever you open the site, first-up, you come to the very latest post or ‘blog,’ like this one – and through the years now, we have hundreds of posts and several thousand original photos, all with their own notes. We have over 1340 primary age pupils. Our aim or mission is to provide basic primary education – maths, reading and writing in their own Khmer language, Science and General Studies including History, Geography, health, nutrition and hygiene. Join us please; we pay absolutely no one, no one at all except Cambodian teachers. We have no office or computer staff or administration costs. We rely on your financial help to pay the teachers, maintain the buildings and buy the books. If you like what you see, please find the ‘Donate’ page to the left of your screen and try to help us. (There is also a Donors page which lists all our donors of $500 or above). There’s lots of advice on the site about what money can buy for our children.”

so now – today’s post -

(There is complex detail in today’s post so please read all the notes – otherwise it will be very difficult to follow.)

 Ren has a laptop – a prize possession in our villages.

  

Our last post was on August 1 2017. The second half of that post was a report on our School Maintenance needs.

I am absolutely delighted to tell you that we have received some money – wonderful donations in the last few weeks  from our friends around the world  - 

in alphabetical order: Bob Feinberg – Susie Gaardsted – Peter Greenwell -*Linda Jackson – *Mark Jackson -Theresa Jamieson -  *John Mann -Jane Scheckter – Anni Julitha Watkins – The Rotary Club of Beaudesert – Jana Zehr.  (the ‘Donors’ list in the index to your left is updated.)

Linda, Mark and Johns’ donations were spent on The Guesthouse. Linda and Mark paid for major attention to the rear stairway – also, staying with Linda and Mark, for new rear stair foundations and new rail and runners to the large vehicle gateway (destroyed by a caterpillar tracked bulldozer) and for an oil based treatment and finish for all the unpainted (ie most) surfaces: -: John (me) paid for the new ironwork and attachment to the front wall - as per Government requirement.

- all the other donors listed above gave exclusively to the Schools. We still need another $1000 for School and play equipment maintenance – if you, or anyone, can help we will be very grateful. 

Donors lists: if it’s inaccurate, particularly if we’ve missed you off the list please tell us by email  - john@educatingcambodia.com

We treat The Guesthouse as a TOTALLY separate building from our School Buildings, Teachers’ salaries  books etc and school maintenance. ie. All donated money is for the Schools and Teachers unless the Donor specifies something else.. eg. individual children, a family, an individual teacher, village farm equipment, a vehicle or The Guesthouse. so, money for the school cannot be used for anything or anyone else.

 Obviously with 1340 children across 10 classrooms (including the preschool) in two shifts every day, our classes are BIG…. But as every photo we have ever taken (these photos are brand new) has shown – good teaching and learning is happening. HOWEVER – We need three more rooms in one building -

- There is detailed costing in many earlier articles but basically -

“We need $30,000 – that will build and equip a strong three classroom building. – three 10 metre by 10 metre rooms. The new building would be where the play equipment now is and we would re-locate the UNICEF play equipment adjacent to the school entrance. If you and your friends find you can help us with this amount you will be remembered by our children forever.”  John. 

 

    In the above photos, in the hat we have Sonita – and Ren and Samun, gardening with their children during a break. Wonderful teachers.

 

Next, we say “hello,” again to Kamau!

  

These three photos (above) are already added to Kamau’s section of the Village Children Page (within the index to the left of your screen).  Find Kamau’s section and see her life through the years. I took the first of these three photos about six months ago (photos and the story of the earlier wedding are within her ‘section’) – - next is Kamau – NOW – August 2017 – with her son) and the little boy is with Nat, Kamau’s mother, on the front steps of the Guesthouse.

Chanthai

 

Chanthai in the striped top in the two photos above and the twelve photos below.

I have looked after Chanthai since she was six years old (she is 18 now). Chanthai lives in the Guesthouse and is our Housekeeper. Cleans and cooks and believe me, NO ONE crosses Chanthai. She is clever friendly and FIRM. – (In the Village Children Section of this website you’ll see Chanthai’s history and some of those photos I reproduce here today)

So far we have had very few guests mostly because I have been ill and probably lazy – I haven’t yet adequately promoted the idea of, say, gap year students, not to mention PhD students working and studying and writing among our amazing villages.  My next plan is to contact US and European Universities.

….anyway what the above paragraph means is that paying any money at all to Chanthai for much of the year comes from my personal money.. SO I’ve set Chanthai up with the very beginnings of a shop and beauty salon. I paid for a makeup and hair course for her last year. The idea is that in the village Chanthai can dress and prepare the ladies and girls for weddings and parties. If you know this website well you will know that they LOVE getting ready for all the festivals and weddings etc throughout the year. …. Chanthai’s salon and tiny shop (convenience store) is very near the Guesthouse. Chanthai will, I hope, have her own income. Chanthai’s father died when she was 4 years old and her mother lives in Thailand.

 

At the moment the shop sells whatever Chanthai thinks her friends and neighbours want which is a combination of canned drinks cooled in ice (delivered by pony cart daily) – good snack food made by locals with shared profits, lots of junk food such as crisps (see the photos) and a very popular line of Chanthai’s – they choose a snack that needs frying and Chanthai obliges and puts it on a wooden stick (skewer). (Peery – Nang’s daughter is sitting on the corner of the ‘day bed’ that in Cambodia doubles as a table cum raised meeting platform – Jana (in the Donors list) and I support Peery).

 

   

A bit of Chanthai’s history which many of you know well:- school is in two shifts which means that children are free to help in the home or fields for half a day. A very early village photo – Chanthai at the front of six on a motorbike – a moto – on the way to school. Then, a favourite photo – Chanthai had a cow to look after 24 hours a day so when she started school (One of our original intake – her cow was tethered outside. the third photo is of Chanthai, in her butterfly tee-shirt, lining up ready for her first day at school – indeed The School’s first day!! Among the adults at the back are Chanthou our number one Khmer person, without whom none of this would ever have happened – and to this day. Also in the background is Warn our main builder… There’ is another photo of Warn below as he works on treating the unpainted wood of The Guesthouse.

 When eight years old Chanthai lost all her front teeth (eight) in an accident and growing adult teeth were also crushed..

Three years ago through the generosity of one wonderful Donor – Jana Zehr (who also donates to Nang’s daughter Peery) together with the generosity of Bophal Uch my favourite Dentist and her Dental Clinic  - Pachem Dental Clinic – Chanthai’s life changed completely with eight implants done brilliantly by Bophal in Phnom Penh. …. If you scroll through the posts – index on the left of your screen – to November 2014, you’ll see the full dentistry story.

  

In November 2016 we were visited by a big group of wonderful people from Wagga Wagga in Australia, they are ” Help Cambodia Wagga” .I’ve talked of them frequently since and in the first of three photos above Chanthai is painting and drawing in The guesthouse using one of Wagga’s fantastic donated “art sets’.

Then – in the kitchen of The Guesthouse, watching “Shaun The Sheep” on my phone.

Chanthai in Green – three days ago, all dressed up ready to go to a wedding in the next village. Her white bag was part of a bag of donated clothes I had brought with me from Australia. The strap was broken – fixed in Phnom Penh for $1 and it’s Chanthais favourite thing.

 

Play and learning in The Guesthouse

 

 

Rain ? Wonderful stuff.

 

 

The two photos above and the two photos below will make sense to Australians. Steve Parish is Australia’s best known nature and animal photographer – he also writes children’s storybooks, also about animals. I took the photos on the ground floor of The Guesthouse. Two of our children looking at Steve’s book – “Kookaburra’s Loud Laugh” – it had been donated to us in a pile of other books.

  

…continued from above … Steve is on Facebook and I wrote to him.

So, this brings us very nicely to inside the Guesthouse

Preserving all the unpainted wood.

  

From the safety of distance and through computer eyes, our villages, school buildings and rice fields  look quite magical; in reality NO ONE  from advanced countries (other than me) has found it acceptable or even possible to sleep for more than ONE night in our villages – in all these years, one night was the maximum. So – we built our Guesthouse. It is acceptable and young people particularly would stay in it for weeks at a time. Central to village life and one kilometre from our main schools. It is beautiful and traditional, made  entirely of Cambodian hard wood and terracotta tiles from Mekong clay. It was expensive and needs looking after.

The money came from private individuals (Linda and Mark) and as with its maintenance – as I wrote earlier today – above – not one dollar or cent comes from School, village or health related donations. It WILL pay for itself eventually with any surplus money going to the schools – but not yet. (also see earlier in THIS post for Guesthouse maintenance donors.)

these next 20 photos show work done over the past three months.. I took the photos. All the work had to be done.

In two of the photos (above) we see Warn working in the ‘coffee room’. All – ALL the wood throughout the building is Cambodian hardwood and we’ve left it unpainted in most places BECAUSE it is a truly beautiful hard wood.  Warn was in charge of cleaning and preparation – helped by a LOT of children – and applied all the oil based coating himself. Warn is the best craftsman I know. He built our first and second schools and his father built the third. In the Guesthouse, Warn, faced with 5 metre long hexagonal wooden columns on top of circular concrete bases, hand plastered the columns with cement to make the entire column lengths hexagonal. (I was and am very impressed.)

 

 

  Well done children – preparation is so important. Children know that they can visit freely and the whole community treats the vast downstairs area rather as you would a favourite house and village meeting place. Workers are easy to find because they love their Schools, the Guesthouse and the ‘barangs’ (foriegn visitors).

     inside and out.

… and why are we telling you all this? We need YOU to visit us. The children need you; their families and villages need you.

The front wall and gates

 Note the incredible versatility of Peter Greenwell’s tuk tuk. (member of Beaudesert Rotary Club) Tomorrow the tuk tuk will be reconstructed for the High School run. (see notes above re – the steel reinforced foundations for the gate running rail had been destroyed by a caterpillar tracked bulldozer – so we rebuilt it with deeper and stronger reinforcement.)

and next the ironwork for the wall.

  

 A secure and striking front wall and gate were a REQUIREMENT of the Government. Its not only a secure statement, its a Statement: Presence – and “Face” are VERY important things throughout South East Asia.

We are, sadly, “THE six poorest villages in Cambodia” – Sao Ri said – the old Leader of Don Kong Commune of the Kamchay Mear District of Prey Veng. Sao Ri features in our first ever posts years ago as we calculated village needs and how it might all be done.

The people are lovely BUT it does mean that we COULD attract theft and as I’ve said often before when I am in the villages I have to pay for police presence. Beaudesert Rotary recalls that one particular year with ten Beaudesert folk in the village we had 22 (yes twenty two) police looking after us day and night. HOWEVER having said all that, I have been here for a long time, often as the only ‘foreigner’ and often with hundreds of dollars in my pocket and the entire collective mass of villagers care for me and I feel and am safe .

ANYWAY – the wall REQUIREMENT?!

It’s more a VERY obvious border and threshold than an impenetrable barrier.

In January of this year you might recall that I had to argue RATHER STRONGLY to keep our wall when the 4 metre wide road was becoming a 20 metre wide road. We kept the wall but road drainage had to come along the inside of our wall and in the process the gateway and concrete base for the gate rail and runners were destroyed (utterly) by a caterpillar tracked digger.

If we’d lost the wall we would have had to rebuild it at OUR expense (that’s the way it is.) because the wall is a Government requirement.  As it was we had to rebuild the gateway from it’s foundations to gate rail and runners…. BUT we hadn’t completed the wall – those valleys within each section of wall were designed to take the ironwork that as you can now see matches the two gates (vehicular and pedestrian!). We had the money dedicated for the wall ‘requirement’ so this week it is complete. We WILL paint the wall but not just yet – my attention will very soon turn back to School maintenance.

 

…. So – when you come to stay with us ..

Soooo when you come to stay with us and get to know the children you have so often seen and read about – you will love the long slow evenings in The Guesthouse surrounded by rice fields, Srok Khmer ( rural Cambodia) and the families – and you will crave the occasional escape to a town on The Mighty Mekong for a restaurant meal.. Just 45 minutes by motorbike or 4 wheel drive is the town of Prey Veng nestled on the East bank of that rather special river..

Love to you all,

from John.

Our schools WITH children – and WITHOUT children. The reality and hence our desperate needs. 86 new photos and notes.

In CategoryJohns blog
Byadmin

 

We will start with introductory notes for all first time visitors to our website: The fist paragraph in italics below appears before every post.

(If you would like to talk with us, the ‘Contacts’ Page is near the top of the Contents list to your left – along with how to ‘Donate’ and lots more.)

“If you are new to our projects or haven’t visited this site for a while –here’s how it works:

Whenever you open the site, first-up, you come to the very latest post or ‘blog,’ like this one – and through the years now, we have hundreds of posts and several thousand original photos, all with their own notes. We have over 1340 primary age pupils. Our aim or mission is to provide basic primary education – maths, reading and writing in their own Khmer language, Science and General Studies including History, Geography, health, nutrition and hygiene. Join us please; we pay absolutely no one, no one at all except Cambodian teachers. We have no office or computer staff or administration costs. We rely on your financial help to pay the teachers, maintain the buildings and buy the books. If you like what you see, please find the ‘Donate’ page to the left of your screen and try to help us. (There is also a Donors page which lists all our donors of $500 or above). There’s lots of advice on the site about what money can buy for our children.”

so now – today’s post -

 This photo of the tuktuk with cab removed has nothing to do with today’s subject matter but we just took it and I didn’t want to keep hold of it for ‘later on’.. There are a number of photos of our tuk tuk whose primary function is to ferry  older children to a distant High School. BUT it is used all day and every day and as you know, we can easily remove and replace the seats and protective roof.

 

OK so today’s subject matter. The photos today can very obviously divided into the first section of 37 photos and then the second section of 49 photos.

Every photo is brand new – I took them all (but one, as you’ll see) – so that is 86 photos and notes today.

 This photo and the three above were taken just inside the School gate close to the tuck shop.

 …and this is the one photo today that I didn’t take. The wonderful Cambodian man from ‘Clearwater Cambodia’ – a Cambodian filtered water charity came to visit our filtration tanks and renew the special sand. Sok Ken the Head Teacher is on the right of the photo. The man from Clearwater Cambodia has brought us an explanatory chart to go on the wall..

Just a reminder.. We built the big tanks shed and supplied and installed a ground water pump to get water to the top of a series of three tanks. Clearwater Cambodia also installed the pipework and taps for the children to drink from.. There are detailed photos in other months’ posts and also later today.

       

As you scroll through these first 37 photos of today’s 86 photos I want to draw your attention to something VERY STRIKING.

When you look at these photos you see happy and/or studying, safe, boys and girls. So this is the school clean and secure with our, YOUR, children. When you slowly reach the 38th photo, we have removed the children… I’ll explain when we get there!

    

Continue looking. Try to study the rooms that they are in.

 

Lots of happy children with their teachers and Head Teacher Sok Ken.

  

Sok Ken and all our teachers are very proud of their students. They are excellent teachers.

  

Today, some of our classrooms and all from the morning shift – so this afternoon there’s a completely different set of children

  

 

We have 1340 children. On any given day we have approximately 690 girls and 650 boys.

NB. If you go back to the year we started, the elders thought that we wouldn’t want to educate GIRLS. I said very clearly –

“We will educate EVERY GIRL and EVERY BOY or we will not build and run this School.”

Since that day they know that I roam through the villages to ensure that what we want to be happening IS happening.

I have always made it clear to Cambodia and all our friends around the world that ” if the GIRLS are safe, well and at School then we have little in that regard to worry about BECAUSE even Cambodian mothers give EVERY priority to their sons…. NOT AT THIS SCHOOL – girls and boys are equal.

 

  

 

 

So – now – here we go with part two. You’ve just seen 37 photos of children within their School.

If you look back at the June 28 2017 post you will see 13 photos of children cleaning their school. Their School is CLEAN. 

This is what it looks like WITHOUT the children – we focus on something very different.

   

 

So far, very good.. the pink building looks OK as do the water filtering structures – GOOD.

 

You will see that all 13 blackboards need restoration and some wood work and door fixtures need replacing but mostly it just needs painting – PAINTING – inside and out.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A great many desks need replacement wood or simply replacing. Given money for wood, our families build ALL our desks.

 

 

Looking at this toilet block – it is clean but it needs paint.

 

WE HAVE NO MONEY WHATSOVER FOR PAINT OR MAINTENANCE – NOT ONE DOLLAR.

BREAKING NEWSas I am about to post this to the website – my dear friends Bob Feinberg and Jane Scheckter from the USA via Antibes in France have sent us AUD$100. They sent it via the Paypal link in the Donate section to the left of your screen – we received it in Cambodia in less than 48 hours of Bob clicking the ‘send’ link. When you get down to the play equipment photos, as I have already told Bob and Jane, that’s where their $100 will be spent. John. (if you look through the Donors page you will see that Bob and Jane are already listed as Gold Donors {explanation on that page} from previous occasions).

 

 

 

The schools have had thousands of children in them since 2008 – of course things need fixing and painting – MAINTENANCE.

  

 

 

A development you wouldn’t notice is that 20 truck loads of soil have, this year, have been added to the walking and playing area – making it much less boggy and much more useful.

 

These swings and slide were given to us by UNICEF a few years ago

 

You might recall that almost a year ago we were asking for help with funds to build three extra classrooms – to be built exactly where these swings are – and move the swings to the other end of the grounds near the entrance. As you know I became hopeful in November 2016 but sadly nothing eventuated.. We don’t have one dollar in a school building fund.

We need to mend the play equipment. We need to paint this play equipment. (see the above Breaking News – Bob Feinberg and Jane Scheckter’s AUD$100 will go towards fixing and painting this play equipment).

 The slide (slippery dip) needs paint, that’s all – paint.

Today has been about facing reality.

In one and the same day you have seen a lot of happy, secure children studying in the School they LOVE…

.. and these buildings and classrooms that we are all proud of.

To DONATE – any amount – is now easier and safer than ever before.

There  are two main ways to donate:

1. Within the donate page on the left of the screen there is a PayPal link which comes to us within days.

( and this is how TODAY we received Bob Feinberg’s and Jane Scheckter’s $100 in Cambodia within 48 hours of Bob clicking ‘send’. see above.)

2, Similarly there is a good and secure way to Donate through  - http://www.rawcs.com.au

 a) Search for our project:-  it is Cambodia, project 55 2007- 08. (we were registered with Rotary International some time before we named it “EducatingCambodia’, so we are known to Rotary International as Cambodia project 55 2007 – 2008.)

b) This way to Donate also gets to us within days and is tax deductible for Australians.

with Love to everyone from John in Chuor Ph’av Village, Kamchay Mear District, Prey Veng Province, Cambodia.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“Are you an orphanage?”… and who are the three girls? and lots of other new photos with their stories.

In CategoryJohns blog
Byadmin

We will start with introductory notes for all first time visitors to our website: The fist paragraph in italics below appears before every post.

(If you would like to talk with us, the ‘Contacts’ Page is near the top of the Contents list to your left – along with how to ‘Donate’ and lots more.)

“If you are new to our projects or haven’t visited this site for a while –here’s how it works:

Whenever you open the site, first-up, you come to the very latest post or ‘blog,’ like this one – and through the years now, we have hundreds of posts and several thousand original photos, all with their own notes. We have over 1340 primary age pupils. Our aim or mission is to provide basic primary education – maths, reading and writing in their own Khmer language, Science and General Studies including History, Geography, health, nutrition and hygiene. Join us please; we pay absolutely no one, no one at all except Cambodian teachers. We have no office or computer staff or administration costs. We rely on your financial help to pay the teachers, maintain the buildings and buy the books. If you like what you see, please find the ‘Donate’ page to the left of your screen and try to help us. (There is also a Donors page which lists all our donors of $500 or above). There’s lots of advice on the site about what money can buy for our children.”

so now – today’s post -

 The first question- ‘are you an orphanage?’

We are in no way an orphanage and in no part are we an orphanage. We are twelve villages with 1340 children in our schools. The boy in red is Micara (same name as one of our often seen girls). The boy in blue is Den…. They are orphans…

All four parents were killed while trying to work on he Thai border. Chuor Ph’av village (where the Guesthouse is) loves them and takes care of them in their homes. If you would like to try to help us financially to help these and all our children, find the ‘Donate’ page to the left of this screen and all the past stories. I took the photo of Micara and Den in The Guesthouse.

Although most of our 5000 photos on this website are of children in and around our Schools and villages – we always seem to manage something very special and I know that we have done that today.. You’ll see as we unfold the photos with their notes. (I’ll tell you when we get to the three girls in case you miss them.)

 

Today you will see children obviously studying and others simply smiling and having fun. It is worth saying again and again that in eight years we have not lost one single person to sex slavery (being sold in one of many ways for sex).. We have not lost one boy or girl to forced labour. Part of the explanation is our very presence in the villages AND we know ALL the children – all 1340 of them. Explore the site for other obvious and not so obvious advantages of the Schools.

 

In most of the photos the childrens age is apparent.. above – is part of one of our several Grade two classes. These photos were taken by me in the morning. Photos taken in the afternoon would show a totally different set of children.

 with their teacher, the wonderful So Nita.

 

  you can’t fake this kind of happiness. We …. YOU…. are giving them protection and an Educational start. So – we start at age four and officially we finish at age 15 – but as you will see (and know form previous posts) if a 15 or 16 year old has come to us with no prior schooling – we can keep them for a while.

  

WE HAVE ARRIVED AT THE VERY SPECIAL SECTION: In the left hand photo above we see Micara with two books and a pen. On the right we see Chanthay and Maigin. Micara is 13 now, Chanthay is 12, so is Maigin.

I’ve been thinking about taking this photo for a long time… and in the same order as on the banner.. I got them from three different classrooms and relocated them to seat as in the banner…..

….SO – what that means is, if you look at The EducatingCambodia website (THIS ONE) as you open it – Pet, Micara and Chanthay have always been top left – 8 years later now

I took these photos two days ago. Pet on the left (full first name is Sreypet) started out as Vit (or Bit – cant remember which) BUT the most interesting thing is that many of the names that now appear in English when they get old  enough for their Khmer ID are MY phonetic spellings!!.. eg Chanthai is Thai because that’s how I wrote it…similarly Chanthay on the right of the threesome. DA in the middle I miss heard years ago and its close to Ra… add her family name and she is now Micara. Bit (or Vit) has transformed to Pet; Bit was me miss-hearing Pet and thinking it was Vit or Bit… so she is now officially “Srey Pet” (Srey means girl)… In Khmer there are absolutely no vowel equivalents… so she is now Pet.  (I’ll keep this somewhat mad linguistic nightmare for a later repeat).

The three friends, as we have always called them each have their very own section in “Village Children” in the Contents list on the left of your

e  This is Srey Pet (top left corner of the website banner) Pet is 12 as is Chanthay and Micara is 13. Usually they are in three different classrooms.

  Happy boys studying.

The boy above is sixteen years old. He has been away with his father through all his possible school years. He has returned to our villages with his mother. We will keep him in our schools for possibly three years of intensive literacy and numeracy.

  

 We teach the Cambodian Curriculum in their own language – Khmer. This Khmer script.

How about these smiles?!.. they had been doing some drawing and colouring.

She is 15 years old and should be graduating but she was only brought to us recently from another village. We will keep her for intensive literacy and numeracy lesson probably till she is 17 or 18.

 Three of our fantastic teachers walking around while I take photos.

NB. It is very possibly quite intrusive taking photos in our Schools… so only me and one or two of the teachers can take photos and the days I take photos are few and far between.

We finish today with a magical eight seconds of Peery practicing her Khmer traditional dancing. If you’ve been with us for at least a while, you know who Peery is. Nang’s daughter. Nang’s story is in the contents list to your left. I’ll add this little video to her mother’s page soon. More photos with their stories coming soon.

Love to all from John in the villages of Kamchay Mear District.

 

 

 

 

 

Onward – Teddy Bears Arrive – School Cleaned – Maintenance Needed

In CategoryJohns blog
Byadmin

We will start with introductory notes for all first time visitors to our website:

(If you would like to talk with us, the ‘Contacts’ Page is near the top of the Contents list to your left – along with how to ‘Donate’ and lots more.)

“If you are new to our projects or haven’t visited this site for a while –here’s how it works:

Whenever you open the site, first-up, you come to the very latest post or ‘blog,’ like this one – and through the years now, we have hundreds of posts and several thousand original photos, all with their own notes. We have over 1340 primary age pupils. Our aim or mission is to provide basic primary education – maths, reading and writing in their own Khmer language, Science and General Studies including History, Geography, health, nutrition and hygiene. Join us please; we pay absolutely no one, no one at all except Cambodian teachers. We have no office or computer staff or administration costs. We rely on your financial help to pay the teachers, maintain the buildings and buy the books. If you like what you see, please find the ‘Donate’ page to the left of your screen and try to help us. (There is also a Donors page which lists all our donors of $500 or above). There’s lots of advice on the site about what money can buy for our children.”

so now – today’s post -”

One of the developments I am aiming for over the next few weeks is a re-working of the way we pay our teachers. As many of you know I usually place money into the hands of individual teachers and we have receipts. I am going to try for individual Bank Accounts. This could well be a very expensive way of paying teachers ie International transfer many times over, but I WILL find out. The teachers trust me and few others. The world might wish to think that the Governments, Banks and Government officials of Developing Countries are trustworthy – and when, not if, I go down this track – we shall soon know. John

   

Look at last month’s post and you will see the vacuum sealed Teddy Bears and woollen childrens’ bed clothes. As you look at these photos there is a very big thankyou to the ladies of Kooralbyn, Australia and to Corrinne from The Rotary Club of Beaudesert who organised it all and to another Beaudesert Rotarian, David Jones who spent many a day receiving individual knitted Teddies in his Beaudesert Shop. Thank you.

    

I haven’t photographed Panya as an individual before. I gave him his teddy yesterday and that day and through the night he didn’t let go of it.. He has come back to The Guesthouse today to play. Someone said that Panya looks nervous in the first photo almost as if I might ask for his Teddy back.. NO, this is Panya’s Teddy. I think he got the hang of it by the fourth photo.

 You know Chanthay. If you look at the banner at the top of this website, Chanthay is third from the left. If you open the ‘village children’ section in the contents list to the left hand side of this page you will find lots of photos of Chanthay, including two where she is giving as much love to her ‘brick’ teddy bear (Yes BRICK) as if it were these teddy bears that she now has for her little sister and her.

 

Just one of the 25kg of teddy bears made by the ladies of Kooralbyn, Australia went to Panya (same name as a boy with a teddy posted above)…. When this seven year old, still malnourished girl, was 2 years old she would have died without one single dose worm tablet that we gave her. No doctors visit and no nurse until, as you know, our own School graduate RN returned to the village.
Panya is with her 13 year old sister Micara today. Micara has always featured second from the left on our website banner.

 The Chuor Ph’av School Campus is in the same grounds as the Wat – temple, monastery, Community Centre, Fairground and etc. Above you can see that a new entrance Gateway is being built.

 The Schools are on holiday at the moment so I took the opportunity to take around 50 maintenance issue photographs which are mostly paint… paint… and more paint… and more paint..plus play equipment, doors and toilets… those photos are already with The Rotary Club of Beaudesert and if not before, maintenance work will happen later in the year. (I haven’t included the maintenance need photos in this post.)

The school is however clean!! It is cleaned by the children with their teachers:-

      

If you look at the post from late May 2017 you will see a digger which levelled out many tonnes of soil to raise the playing and potential gardening surface.

Not dropping rubbish and picking up rubbish is incredibly difficult to teach when NO ONE does it naturally. There is no government rubbish collection so we collect and bury or burn what we can’t re-use. In the above photos there is what Australians call an emu parade – everyone outside picking up rubbish.

           

 

  All walls inside and out desperately need paint, many desks need fixing, play Equipment needs paint and some welding. Blackboards need re-surfacing. Every door and every window needs minor attention and paint. Some toilets need work.

 I’ll close today with The White Lotus.

The Lotus has huge Buddhist significance (Cambodian – Khmer – people are 97% Buddhist) – especially THE WHITE LOTUS – Beauty growing out of the filth. This is five minutes from the village of Chuor Ph’av.

I reported earlier in the year about farming alternatives to rice.

Lotus farming is risky but possibly lucrative. The roots and stems can be eaten and the flowers used for ceremony and decoration. Much more in a few weeks time – if not before – John

 

 

Preparing to return to the villages – with photos and notes from Ren, from Chanthou and from me – John.

In CategoryJohns blog
Byadmin

We will start with introductory notes for all first time visitors to our website:

(If you would like to talk with us, the ‘Contacts’ Page is near the top of the Contents list to your left – along with how to ‘Donate’ and lots more.)

“If you are new to our projects or haven’t visited this site for a while –here’s how it works:

Whenever you open the site, first-up, you come to the very latest post or ‘blog,’ like this one – and through the years now, we have hundreds of posts and several thousand original photos, all with their own notes. We have over 1340 primary age pupils. Our aim or mission is to provide basic primary education – maths, reading and writing in their own Khmer language, Science and General Studies including History, Geography, health, nutrition and hygiene. Join us please; we pay absolutely no one, no one at all except Cambodian teachers. We have no office or computer staff or administration costs. We rely on your financial help to pay the teachers, maintain the buildings and buy the books. If you like what you see, please find the ‘Donate’ page to the left of your screen and try to help us. (There is also a Donors page which lists all our donors of $500 or above). There’s lots of advice on the site about what money can buy for our children.”

so now – today’s post -”

A lot of ‘notes’ today along with 44 photos – so try not to skip the ‘notes’….:-)

I am really looking forward to getting back to see everyone in our District of Kamchay Mear – in Prey Veng Province – in remote Eastern Cambodia. Everyone – all the families – all the children – all the teachers – Our Schools…. I arrive in Cambodia on June 16. I am fit and well and looking forward to finding anything and everything. For example I still have no idea why we have got a 20 metre wide road instead of our old 4 metre wide track) – I shall find out and tell you (See the January and February posts for the background story).

The last post was March 24. I have been seeing nerve specialists in Australia and I am now ready to return to the villages and Schools centred on the “six poorest villages in Cambodia’ – (Don Kong Commune figures for the Communes 13 villages)

I’ll start today’s Post with The Rotary Conference of District 9640. Ballina is a town on the East coast of Australia. Our Australian Rotary Club – mentioned 100s of times throughout this website – is The Rotary Club of Beaudesert and we ran a display stand at the Conference:

 For the first time in nine years I met up with Graeme and Anne Lockyer from The Rotary Club of Iluka.

In March of 2008 Educating Cambodia together with Beaudesert Rotary Club started our fundraising at the Yamba Rotary Conference. We had the concept and knew what we had to do.
I hadn’t booked a booth or a stand to tell people of our needs…
… in fact I borrowed a tea trolley, moved the milk and coffee and set up a VERY informal ‘booth’ next to the toilets.
.. at a neighbouring REAL booth were Rotarians Graeme and Anne Lockyer… at the end of the first day, Anne walked over to me and said “I am so moved by your passion’ and wrote out a cheque! .. Anne and Graeme’s cheque was OUR FISRT EVER DONATION of any amount.
THAT WEEKEND at the Ballina Conference we MET EACH OTHER AGAIN and I felt quite OVERWHELMED telling them about our current 1300 children and showed them the photos – linked them by friending on Facebook and I am so proud to write their chapter properly in the website today. Graeme and Anne have always been listed as our first Donors – click on the Donors link to the left of your screen .

   

A lot of Clubs had display stands of their own special projects; ours was 80 photos (see photos of the ‘stand’) with notes from EducatingCambodia. ALL of the photos together with another 4900 are within THIS …. OUR… website.

 I am posting this photo of Ita Buttrose because of a conversation we had at our Beaudesert Rotary / EducatingCambodia exhibition stand.

Ita is VERY well known in Australia and New Zealand as a major Magazine Editor and TV personaity (and that’s only part of her wonderful story).

Ita had just given a talk to our packed Conference upstairs. I went back down to the Display area and Ita left the stage and walked downstairs to look at Displays – I was the only other person in the whole area…..

….after listening and looking at our Cambodian Schools’ photos Ita said simply, “Thank you for what you and you are all doing in those Cambodian villages.” …
… NO ONE in Australia ‘thanks’ us for what we are doing in another country! People say such things as “what a great project’ or ‘I sponsor an African child’ or ‘well done.’………
…….. But Ita Buttrose’s ‘thank you’ was PERSONAL. We are helping Ita!!
This all fits very well with the theme of Ita’s Conference talk which was “Thinking Beyond The Individual”.
It is I think a realization or understanding that there is only ONE human being and that human being is ALL OF US – our life form if you like.
I sometimes share my own little theory and that is:
..we usually say that human lifespan is, say, 80 years and yet we happily say that the oldest living organism or animal on the planet is The Great Barrier Reef…. HOWEVER, if we were to use our human lifespan argument we would see that the Barrier Reef is made up of millions of little coral “animals” that have a short lifespan, die, and new baby corals then live on top of the skeletons of their parents….
… If we were to apply the ‘coral reef is an ancient life form” argument to ourselves as humans we would see ourselves as not only 2 million years old but as one united human being.
Ita Buttrose was saying ‘thankyou’ because she is seeing all people as ONE.

(LOOK AT THE DONORS PAGE and you will find names from all over the world. Today we concentrate on Australia and as you will see later, The Rotary Club of Beaudesert… In monetary terms our biggest Donors or within our own Club but also in Antibes and now in AVIGNON and also in England and the USA. Today it’s all about the villages, the schools and our Beaudesert Club. Next month along with all the latest news I’ll give a Europe update.)

BUT NOW – photos sent to me from the villages by Chanthou.

 Actually, I took this photo a few months ago but it never made it onto the website – so – here is Chanthou at her mother’s home (with The Beaudesert Rotary, Peter Greenwell, tuk tuk… WITH .. frogs for breakfast. I was asked last week if these are GIANT frogs…. big? yes; GIANT? no.. They are however close to my camera!.

 

As I reported in March, the Guesthouse has become something of a wedding venue and community hub – here is food being prepared on the edges of the groundfloor – you can see the tiles (500 of them) that form the ground floor. Do you like the cutting boards? slices of tree.

  Dogs and cats are essential parts of village life. Our cats have to be good at catching rats and mice – or they are replaced!

 As with the post from March 24, Ren, one of our wonderful teachers has sent me some photos…. what I dont show you today, I’ll include in a post after I arrive in Cambodia in mid June… this ground work is happening NOW and is preparatory garden landscaping immediately in front of our School Buildings (lots of play areas too).

Next – fifteen of Ren’s photos of the time I was away (except for one because I am in it.)

In answer to the question, that has been asked, “What happens John, when you are not there”?

“Education happens”.. “It would be a very unsustainable project if we’d built schools that only exist in our presence.” – John

 

A lot of people like the updates on children they have come to know.There’s a villge children section for just those updates. Peery is within her mothers section – ‘Nang’s Story’….. Just Peery for now and then more when I get back to the villages.

 Jana from Queensland in Australia supports Peery and I do too – we have bought Peery a bicycle so she can get to School. Why do we support Peery? please read Nang’s Story and then you’ll understand – plus I promised Nang’s mother that I would take care of Peery if anything happened to Nang.. and it did. Read the story.

 

I was sent these two photos of dancing Peery on May 11 – that was 2 years + 100 days since Nang, Perry’s mother, died. (100 days is a Buddhist ceremony to help the person’s soul on its journey).
Aagain -for the full and continuing story of Nang’s legacy open “Nang’s Story” where you can find todays five new Peery photos.

 I OFTEN talk about The Rotary Club of Beaudesert and the meetings. I took the above photo and the next few at the weekly meeting of May 16 2017. Many in the club have visited our Kamchay Mear villages. Mark and Linda have been six times. Linda was not at this meeting (on a trip with Rotary Exchange Students).

In the photo above you see Shane Page who is our Club President until Susan Page takes over for a year starting in July (yes… Shane’s wife). EVERYONE in the following Club photos supports our School projects either with individual donations – and/or working with others – see later – to raise money.

Kathy is sitting – everyone has projects or charities that they might choose to concentrate on, either within Rotary or with another organisation … or just on their own. One of Kathy’s favourite charities she works hard with, is for women fighting Cancer – ‘Chicks Conquering Cancer’.

Lesley, standing, supports everything… eg at this precise time a group of possibly six of us including Lesley and Kathy .. and Mark,Linda and I  are working towards a Showcase day in a park for all our local clubs and sports.

At the end of the table is Jeff who I’ll talk about later!

 The village children know Tamara. Tamara is also in four more photos today (increasingly tired, I might add, because she had had many long hard days at University and her jobs…. see for yourself… poor Tamara…)

Back to Jeff – there is Jeff standing – Jeff is next year’s Trasurer.. Jeff helps with everything. When I arrive in the villages next month I will have two new mobile phones donated by Jeff personally – for village use.

 especially for Khmer friends.. Mark is on the left and Tamara with her glass.

 Mark, Keith and Doug… and ‘Hello Tamara’.

As I often mention, Mark Jackson is of huge help to us in Kamchay Mear. Mark and his wife Linda (not here tonight) are enormous individual donors and helpers to both the schools AND the village families. Mark and Linda have visited the villages six times. In January 2018 they will be with us, along with Lauren for 2 weeks for ‘school maintenance.

Keith is sitting next to Mark. Keith supports EVERY Rotary project in every way he can. (Keith is the absolute King of selling raffle tickets.)

Next to Keith is Doug, who over all our 9 years – we are starting our tenth year in the villages – has supported us over and over again – always knowing the right thing to purchase for us.. A well known photo of one of our classes has a GLOBE right on the front desk… Doug’s idea.

 In this photo, Lauren is standing to talk. Lauren has been to the villages three times and next January will be her fourth visit…… Both Lauren and Tamara are twenty years old… both joined at age 18.

LAUREN IS 20 YEARS OLD TODAY (the day of this post) – MAY 22 2017 – HAPPY BIRTHDAY

In the photo above, the lady sitting in the corner, on Lauren’s left is Susan Page our next President (see one of the photos above featuring the top table)… Again – Susan helps us in any way she can… Over several years, Susan kept us well supplied with medicines!

Kevin in the Club Shirt of Blue and Yellow has also been to our Schools. see the photo below for a sentence on Kevin’s huge contribution to the Club.

 In the foreground is Peter – Peter’s Church Group donated money to our Schools a few years ago… Peter does a lot of voluntary work in the Solomon Islands.

Behind Peter is David.. we know David well in our main village. David does a lot of charity fund raising with The Endeavour Foundation.

Behind David is Doug and hidden behind Doug is his wife Joy. Doug and Joy are also well known in our Villages.

At the back of this photo are Geoff (right) and Dennis, both of whom work hard particularly with Kevin in organisising, maintaining and running our catering van – our main fund raiser.

 From behind the ‘top table’ .. Jeff is in the bottom left of the photo (also in an earlier photo with Tamara. Jeff is next years Treasurer. Mark J has been our Treasurer for a number of hard working years)….. The village also knows Peter and Chris who are not in this photo – Peter was Treasurer before Mark!.. Peter and Chris have moved and have left our Club but still visit when they can.

Three more people missing from this meeting are also major donors (‘Major Donor’ is more than $500).. Corrinne who was with us right from before the beginning. It was Corrinne who suggested we should approach Beaudesert Rotary for help!!…. and Peter and Susie who are up there with the biggest of major donors! Peter paid for the village tuk tuk (The Peter Greenwell Tuk Tuk) and supports teachers salaries.

 so…. I’ve started packing

50 TEDDY BEARS excited that they are coming with me on June 15 to find homes in our Kamchay Mear villages in Cambodia. They were a bit scared as I started to suck the life of them but were cheerily reassured that they would all breathe as new as soon as we arrive in Chuor Ph’av Village.
The Teddies will be accompanied on the journey by lots of baby clothes.. The Teddy Bears and heaps of hats and jumpers were all knitted and given by the wonderful ladies of Koorlabyn in Australia. EVERYTHING made of cotton or Polyester is made ridiculously cheaply in Cambodia.. every brand you can think of from Armani to Yves St Lauren – plus all the branded training shoes – but knitted goods aren’t made in Cambodia.
 

… remove the air and they are the same weight but occupy much less space!

 The 4 vacuum sealed bags are a fraction of the original size (obviously, they weigh the same) and I should be able to get these bags into one big strong ‘stripey’ holdall.
I remain in Australia to help with The Rotary Club of Beaudesert’s Showcase of the Council’s area Clubs, Sports and activities in Jubilee Park on Sunday June 11 and then leave for our Schools and villages.

We’ll write to you again soon from Cambodia,

John.

 

 

 

37 photos taken by Ren Soth, Chanthou and Marion of Le9 Theatre in Avignon, France.

In CategoryJohns blog
Byadmin

We will start with introductory notes for all first time visitors to our website:

(If you would like to talk with us, the ‘Contacts’ Page is near the top of the Contents list to your left – along with how to ‘Donate’ and lots more.)

“If you are new to our projects or haven’t visited this site for a while –here’s how it works:

Whenever you open the site, first-up, you come to the very latest post or ‘blog,’ like this one – and through the years now, we have hundreds of posts and several thousand original photos, all with their own notes. We have over 1340 primary age pupils. Our aim or mission is to provide basic primary education – maths, reading and writing in their own Khmer language, Science and General Studies including History, Geography, health, nutrition and hygiene. Join us please; we pay absolutely no one, no one at all except Cambodian teachers. We have no office or computer staff or administration costs. We rely on your financial help to pay the teachers, maintain the buildings and buy the books. If you like what you see, please find the ‘Donate’ page to the left of your screen and try to help us. (There is also a Donors page which lists all our donors of $500 or above). There’s lots of advice on the site about what money can buy for our children.”

so now – today’s post -”

IN MY ABSENCE, getting successful medical care in Australia. one of our teachers has been taking photos and telling me the schools are going well. (I’ll be back in the villages soon)

“We need a lot of building maintenance but the children are all at school.” says Ren Soth

Indeed we know about maintenance needs and I’ll talk about our precise needs in a few more weeks from now.. But for example, everyone of our nineteen doors needs serious help, most blackboards are beyond repair and every building NEEDS paint exterior and interior.

THE PHOTOS OF REN SOTH:

 This is the only photo today that was taken in early February while I was still in The Schools. Note to self  - “did you know that the children didn’t know which way to look”?

 Ren with his son on our School corridor.

 The only good blackboard out of twelve blackboards.

  

Ren’s grade 2 class ( Morning shift)

    

  

Flower gardens run in front of all our classrooms (vegetables (khmer greens and stream plants) are grown at home and brought in)

MARION FROM LE9 THEATRE IN AVIGNON (FRANCE)

 

I wish I’d been there but Chanthou and the teachers were perfect hosts – Marion and her husband from Avignon visited the School. Marion is a good friend of Hilary and Le9 Theatre in Avignon, France. They are grouped in Sok Ken’s (head teacher to the right) office cum Clinic.

 

The first photo above was taken by Marion earlier this month and the second was taken on the same day – Marion with her husband.

. Ren took this photo. Since our very first year we have taken photos of salaries being presented between teachers. Ren took this photo.

 

CHANTHOU’S PHOTOS

If you have been with us or visited us or know this site, then you know Chanthou. Chanthou is our coordinator in Cambodia. There are many many photos of Chanthou and of her family and friends within this site.

The first set of photos are of Danni’s wedding. Danni was our first House Keeper of the Guesthouse (now it’s Chanthai). Several years ago I bought Danni out of a very inappropriate marriage. (as in “GO AWAY” and to seal the farewell here’s $400).. That marriage was annulled under Cambodian Buddhist Law. Lets hope that this marriage – photos below – is a good one.

DANNI GETS MARRIED IN OUR GUESTHOUSE.

 The ‘reception’ marquee is next to the Guesthouse with the all day services/ceremonies happening on the upper floor of the Guesthouse. Those of you who know the Guesthouse can orientate yourselves and for everyone else there are a great many Guesthouse photos through the last three years of posts.

 Food was prepared in several places – this is under Ayees house opposite. Ayee is Danni’s mother and is a very poor widowed sister of Chanthou. Fortunately both for Ayee’s family and for us Ayee lives directly across the track from the Guesthouse. Everyone helps everyone.

 On the upper floor (see part of our mattress storage) preparing  the ceremony area.

 The main upper sleeping area  makes a a GREAT wedding setting. The guesthouse is a very traditional building in appearance as well as quality – made from various Cambodian hard woods Those columns, shaped octagonally are an incredible 5 metres of the strongest hardwood (see construction posts earlier). See that cushion? you will see it again soon.

 The chief monk or priest or Abbot I suppose of our local temple (Wat) – a Wat is where monks live, but as long time readers will know, the wat is also our village 24 hour a day temple and Community centre and and centre of, as it were, social work. The chief monk is one of my close friends in the village and I keep him supplied with small cigars. In Cambodia, yes Monks and Nuns do not drink alcohol and are celibate but they are allowed to smoke – much to the amusement of visitors. My monk is selective – cigars!

 Meanwhile in the Guesthouse grounds the food is cooked for perhaps 200 people – everyone contributes.

   

 

Look above at meat preparation especially…. but it IS delicious.

THE CEREMONY

 Maigin  the Bridesmaid welcoming you inside.

 Various ceremonies throughout the day. Maigin in her day Clothes. Danni the beautiful Bride.

 and with two of Chanthou’s children – the boy Kumheang and Sokleah one of the identical twins.

 last one – the ceremony from the centre of our upper floor.

 

A big THANK YOU to Ren Soth, Chanthou and Marion for today’s photos. John.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lauren with us for 33 days: Fairs: Dentist: A balloon trip: Lauren dressed by her new friends: Our 4 metre wide village tracks becoming 20 metre wide roads! Visit to Sihanoukville and visit to a hospital.

In CategoryJohns blog
Byadmin

 

We will start with an introductory paragraph for all first time visitors to our website:

“If you are new to our projects or haven’t visited this site for a while –here’s how it works:

Whenever you open the site, first-up, you come to the very latest post or ‘blog,’ like this one – and through the years now, we have hundreds of posts and several thousand original photos, all with their own notes. We have over 1340 primary age pupils. Our aim or mission is to provide basic primary education – maths, reading and writing in their own Khmer language, Science and General Studies including History, Geography, health, nutrition and hygiene. Join us please; we pay absolutely no one, no one at all except Cambodian teachers. We have no office or computer staff or administration costs. We rely on your financial help to pay the teachers, maintain the buildings and buy the books. If you like what you see, please find the ‘Donate’ page to the left of your screen and try to help us. (There is also a Donors page which lists all our donors of $500 or above).  There’s lots of advice on the site about what money can buy for our children ... so now – today’s post -”

Hello from our villages in the Kamchay Mear District in Prey Veng Province, Cambodia. It has been a truly remarkable month. Lauren, from The Rotary Club of Beaudesert, Australia arrived on December 3oth and will leave on February 2nd.

So, Lauren has been here for all of the month covered but THIS post. THE whole month – every day – has been dominated by quite incredible and unprecedented road works covering most of our villages. I have been heavily involved in all the discussions, and negotiating (you’ll see why!!). I posted the previous post on January 1st and on that day there was no sign or whisper of what was to come.

Today’s post includes 100 photos and lots of notes. This is roughly how today’s ‘chapters’ share the photos:

1. Full Moon village fair, hosted by us (our school) and The Wat (temple cum Community Centre).

2. Lauren visits THE Dentist – yes Bophal Uch, you!

3. A Balloon over Angkor Wat.

4. Chanthou and Lauren go to a wedding and the guests dressing Lauren.

5. A significant note from a friend of Lauren and Lauren’s reply. Well done Lauren.

6. Photos and notes on a story of belief and growth. Belief (and knowledge) that we are growing as a group of villages and subsequent MASSIVE growth in our local road network and – WHY?!

7. Koh Pich (Diamond Island) huge fairgound on an island within The Mekong in Phnom Penh.

8. Yet more never ending de-lousing in the villages.

9.The train trip to Sihanoukville.

10. Dinner in Phnom Penh.

11. Calmette Hospital.

1. Within the combined grounds of our Schools in Chuor Ph’av village. A Bon (fair). We estimate 5000 visitors from our surrounding villagers.

It is very low cost and a LOT of basic old fashioned fair ground games and rides.                                                                                 Note the fly paper – sticky paper hanging near sweet food – flies stick to the paper. 

Lauren tries her hand at darts – burst a balloon and win a prize.                       Lauren at the head of a train. Soklep sits behind her and Chanthou shouts encouragement.   Choosing their prizes. How about this for a Rotisserie?!  Rotisserie?? Small birds. Getting ready for entertainment from the stage  Nicely illuminated next to the entrance. Beaudesert Rotary Club.

Chapter 2. THE Dentist.

  

As we’ve often said Dr Bophal Uch is our worlds number one Dentist. (remember, Bophal did all of Chanthai’s implants (and mine!) ) Lauren had several attempts in Australia to fix a chipped tooth. Fixed in Phnom Penh! (also see Chanthai’s own section within “village children” to the left of your screen.

Chapter 3. High over Angkor Wat.

  

Chanthou and Lauren travelled to Siem Reap by bus. The tethered balloon rises with this spectacular view of Angkor Wat. (Meanwhile I stayed behind in the villages to monitor ROAD activities. see chapter 6 below.)

Chapter 4. Off to a wedding.

                 Lauren is the lady on the left (both women in blue). A Cambodian wedding lasts from 6am to 11pm. Ceremony after ceremony with many dresses and lots of eating and drinking. So, Lauren’s new friends dressed her and made her up as a bride…….Yes it IS Lauren.

  

Chapter 5.

A screenshot from Lauren’s Facebook.

A friend of Lauren writes ‘you do a fantastic job and so much to be proud of’…. Lauren replies….

Chapter 6. The Roads .

4 metres wide to 20 metres wide. This is such huge news, I have included EVERY photo I took – partly for historical reasons.

 

There are no maps that include detail of our area so I’ve filled the void with a hand drawn diagram. The main road runs west to east and eventually to the Vietnam border to the east. Our roads, through every local village were all four metres wide. Every house frontage had coconut trees and mango trees and a bamboo fence and some (like us) had walls and gates. The second PHOTO ABOVE shows the road and vegetation prior to January 1st. 4 metres wide

Prior to January 1st we had no idea at all that road building or expansion was about to happen.

ALL the people are VERY accepting. There is no avenue for disagreement and there is no compensation for land or fruit trees etc – but the news spread that we will be getting a good huge gravel road and ELECTRICITY – so power poles are next! On the first few days, cattle, pigs and chickens were running everywhere. Fences are mostly not rebuilt yet so dogs are unsure of their territory and everything else just roams. BUT everyone is still smiling.

The 4 metre wide roads or rather, tracks, have become 20 metre wide roads and in most cases all of the front gardens, coconut trees and mango trees have all gone. In addition, for the necessary soil to build up some height for the new road, everyone has given the soil from their own properties – the road builders simply digging it out of remaining land either in front of houses or to their sides.

Through three villages and hundreds of houses only two fences or walls remain standing. The one big way we kept our Guesthouse wall was to pay the home owner opposite us to buy some of their land so it could be used for road fill, otherwise they would have knocked our wall down. I am having good talks with the Government they tell me that they are delighted with our “Schools, their growth and our generosity and kindness”. …. which I believe gives something of a clue as to why this vast road is happening!….. more within this photo album.

   

The two photos above show Chanthou’s mother’s home and it’s where I stayed during all my visits before The Guesthouse was built. I paid for that wall. Not only has the good wall and gate gone but also a row of coconut trees and mango trees.

 

  

Clearing a 20 metre wide path through a tiny village causes ….. damage.

 

But everyone is still smiling. Above is Cheng with Mab’s son Songha and Nang’s 8 year old daughter Peery (see Nang’s story to your left.) Smiling even though Cheng has just lost her fruit trees and coconut trees , two walls and a fence.

 

and in the midst of it all the children play.

 

You can see where the 4 metre wide track was (within the 20 metres) yesterday.

 

and the children play – this time downstairs at The Guesthouse.

 

Ayee, opposite, lost coconut trees and a Mango tree as well as her fence

We paid the road builders to replant her coconut trees inside our wall. Ayee can harvest most of the coconuts for herself.

And once planted, the same machine does the watering.

 

We only JUST retained our wall. It will be road right up to our wall.

 Everything cleared right up to Bits little house. (Bit is one of ‘the three friends’ – see the left end of the website banner and her own section within ‘village children’).

 

The building on the left is The Guesthouse.                   AND we get Ayee’s displaced Mango tree.

Chanthou and Ayee water Ayee’s Mango tree – and it will remain Ayees tree, but I’m sure we will benefit not only from having a happy neighbour but probably a few juicy mangos

 

EVERY house provides, in addition to losing land for road width, huge amounts of soil to give the 20 metre road its required height……..

 

… except for us. We have paid Ayee to provide our quota of soil – which is twice as much as most properties because of our double rice field frontage!

NOW – scroll back up for a minute to the hand drawn map. Look at the southern end of the new wide section (drawn in red on the map) Chanthai will take us for a photographic ride from this end, through much of Chuor Ph’av, right past the School, then left (as in due north for a straight 8 kilometres till the new road joins the highway. In that last 8 klm stretch you see the final volcanic stone surface. [ The scooter is technically mine from a few years ago but it lives at The Guesthouse and along with The Peter Greenwell tuk tuk is used as an essential vehicle. Those people who know me personally or have a good memory of these website posts - don't worry, I NEVER drive it... passenger yes. Falling off got very boring and painful.]

I walk back a few metres to the actual southern start (Chanthai in the mid distance.)

 

We have turned right and are passing the School with the new entrance. (Mab and Peery are on the motorbike. Peery has finished morning shift school – there are two completely different shifts of children to accommodate all our children.)

 

..and two villages later we turn left for the 8 kilometre long home stretch to the highway.

This is the finished surface with the photo below giving a closer look at the volcanic surface.

In the west we take pipes and concreted culverts for granted. This is very impressive for our villages.

An eventually we join the main road and EAST would take us to Vietnam and then China.

.. and we head back down the 8 klm stretch (past a lotus farm on the left.)

 

Rice last year was at a very low price and so a number of more adventurous farmers are trying lotus plants. The roots fetch good money and the blossoms too if only they get them or could get them to a good market or airport

and last we look at the places from where the builders are taking ‘build up’ soil.

WHY are we getting this incredible upgrade? We don’t know yet…but we have a clue. Scroll back up to the southern start where Chanthai is with the scooter – A lot of land has been bought near the road….. electricity will be going in …. at the moment we are guessing – ‘factory’…. we might well be wrong.. but it fits.. A huge pool of people with no jobs and a need in nearby Vietnam or China to expand.. If we are right it means 1000s of jobs for people who we don’t or can’t help into university or good jobs is one of our towns.

Chapter 7. Koh Pich (Diamond Island).

  

Koh Pich literally means Island Diamond… Diamond Island sits within the HUGE Mekong River in Phnom Penh and has Conference rooms, Reception and Dance halls and a VERY big fairground. If you search carefully you’ll find Chanthou and Lauren on this ‘chicken’ swing.

Chapter 8. De-lousing again and again and again.

 

This problem simply doesn’t leave us. There are several de-lousing photos within this website. They all help each other. Sometimes they even sit in circles – doing the hair of the person in front of them.

Chapter 9. The train trip to Sihanoukville.

For almost all Khmer people trains are a new experience. Prior to the Khmer Rouge years there was an extensive rail syestem. Pol Pot destroyed the entire network of rail lines, except for a tiny stretch in the west on which locals built a bamboo train. It was a petrol operated little engine moving a bamboo bed cum carpet on wheels. (lots of photos of the Bamboo train on the internet)

Now from Phnom Penh (brand new NOW) a passenger and a freight train run south, calling in at Takeo and Kampot on the way to the seaside resort of Sihanoukville. US $7 each way and it was packed with people trying out the new thing!

 

People wlked up and down the aisle selling Cambodian treats. It was a very enjoyable seven hours. The three photos above show Takeo Station and its platform (and our train).. No cafeteria as such but lots of things to eat (similar to our Schools tuck shops.)

Oh dear OH DEAR – we hadn’t reckoned on Chinese New Year with most Phnom Penh workers laid off for 5 days (no pay)…. THIS IS THE BEACH AT SIHANOUKVILLE.

We eventually found a less packed bit. This, from left to right, is – Sokleah, Chanthai, Lauren and Chanthou.

 

and one terrible (sky darkening) photo of Soklep and Chanthai in an innertube.

Chapter 10. Dinner back in Phnom Penh.

Crab and prawns. You dont travel to Sihanoukville for one night – but we did. The town was so packed that the only room not booked had no window, no television and cold water and cost US$50.. Anywhere else and on any other day this room would have cost $5. So we got up early and caught a bus back to Phnom Penh.

Chapter 11. Calmette Hospital.

  

 

We finish this post with my favourite Hospital. The Doctors are wonderful but with limited resources.. …. It was Nang’s Hospital – I wrote about it extensively in ‘Nang’s Story’ left of your screen. Dr Suy, Nang’s incredible Doctor (and now mine) works here.

A boy from our village was brought by his family, first to Prey Veng town where they couldn’t treat him and then on, by 100cc motorbike to Calmette in Phnom Penh. Appendicitis. They operated successfully that night and we saw him the next night (yesterday) Lauren very interested in all this and was very pleased that he was getting penicillin.

I hope you enjoyed today’s unusual post – lots yet to unfold regarding WHY we have suddenly got a 20 metre wide road that starts in our main village. The Government has so far shared with me that everyone is very happy with the success of our schools and size of our population.

……mmm…. more to come, obviously.

Lots more to come as it happens, love from John and everyone in the villages.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Happy New Year – January 1st 2017

In CategoryJohns blog
Byadmin

A lot today – January 1st – starting with France!

A name to know for 2017 – Le9 Theatre Avignon -

If you look back through the years, the place, Antibes, features time and time again – through my dearest friend Hilary, the people of the Cote d’Azur in the South of France helped us an incredible amount – Hilary was with us from THE BEGINNING – and still is very much with us – as in side by side and hand in hand! Hilary and her wonderful husband J P have moved to Avignon and opened the ‘Le 9 Theatre’ which they have built WITHIN their house – December 20th was Inauguration Night!

A lot more to over the coming months, but ….

… THE PROGRAMME for January and February.. Whether you are French, English, Australian (or anywhere else) you will recognise talent, experience, skill…. an awesome line-up. Those of you with Facebook can find the Page (brand new, as you will see) ‘like’ it and follow developments.

 

YESTERDAY – December 31st we collected Lauren from Phnom Penh International Airport. Lauren will be with us for 33 days. It is Lauren’s third visit but the other two visits were both for just two nights; Lauren came with groups from The Rotary Club of Beaudesert in Australia, So this time – by herself for 33 nights…. Lots more over the weeks! (The three of us go back to the villages tomorrow.)

 

 

 I posted these three photos of Chanthay on Facebook on December 22. I’ll copy and paste the story that went with these photos.

“We have known Chanthay (known as Tay) since the beginning. She has her own section within ‘village children’ within the website (Find Village Children in the index on the left of your screen.)
This is about as good as health care gets in our villages.
She has a high temp, sweating and rapid pulse. This is basically THE treatment. I have paid for two bottles of sugar and saline with multi vits.
The next stage would be take her from our villages (the school and our guesthouse double as clinics) to a district clinic then to the provincial hospital. None of these places would do a blood or urine test or ANYTHING ELSE. …. and the next step, if the patient is still alive, is the big children’s hospital n Phnom Penh or my favourite – Calmette hospital that looked after Nang. Nang has her own section in the web site . Dr Tour Suy in Phnom Penh looked after Nang and now looks after me.
So back to Chanthay. The infusion will run through; the doctor will not return (our nurse might – yes we have a registered nurse graduate from OUR School ) the family will pull out the needle and reuse the piping and valve to cool their family 100cc motorbike engine with drip fed water. – and no medical follow up unless I do it, which I will.”

….and then the following day….

 .. and under this photo of an improving Chanthay, I wrote, “Update on Chanthay: still got a mild fever but improving, I think. Given her ‘Nurofen for Children’.. I’ll check again in 4 hours.”

The following day I went to check on her in the morning and of her own accord she’d got up and walked to School!! Good – very good.

 Over Christmas I brought various sections to the left of your screen more up to date. This first photo above is again of Chanthay.. this time with her pig. I inserted all five of the photos here of Chanthay into Chanthay’s part of the ‘Village Children’ Page…..

 … and I inserted this photo of a very happy Chanthai into HER own section within the ‘Village Children’ Page….. If you scroll back to a post of November 23 2016 you will see lots about the visit from ‘Help – Cambodia Wagga Wagga” they donated almost a bus load of everything from clothes to books, to medical equipment and stationery… for the schools. We kept some of the books, stationery and hundreds of pairs of glasses in The Guesthouse for distribution and a store within The Guesthouse.

Chanthai has become “housekeeper’, of the Guesthouse and in this photo is enjoying drawing and painting. So – again -Chanthai has her own Village Children section and this photo is now edited within.

All of Peery’s recent photos are also edited into her late mother’s section – Nang’s Story.

 

There was a wedding in Chuor Ph’av on December 19. (It was the wedding of Warn’s daughter, Jennine. Warn is our number one builder of Schools – he also shaped the remarkably beautiful octagonal Guesthouse Columns.)

Within this website there are a number of sets of wedding photos with their stories (and funerals).. TODAY I will only show some photos of food preparation (above and below) for the wedding of Warn’s daughter.

  

 (every part of the animal.) 

The rice is harvested and for the few weeks of December and early January it is the most practical; time for weddings – the Dry Season is happening which means that there is almost no rain – the temperature is a relatively cool 28C during the day and as low as 18 – 20C at night, low humidity and fewer mosquitos. A lot of people who usually work away from the villages in garment factories and in fish and chicken processing factories across the south west border in Thailand are in our villages because they have helped with the rice harvest AND they know weddings are about to happen.

{I have explained over the years that unlike in the west or even in Japan and Korea, there is no sign of any decline in rural populations in Cambodia.. (our school numbers rise every year  in our villages)..Why? – Village structure is central to Cambodian Society – 1. There are no lengthy holidays in Cambodia; there are many 2-4 day Buddhist HOLY days during which the cities empty and everyone returns home for family and village events. 2.To get work ID, a passport or permission to marry, it has to be done through the village leaders. SO 80% of Cambodians actually reside in rural villages, not in cities…. Coming home for village weddings is what happens.}

   

 Village weddings are incredible, huge events – involving everyone. Everyone volunteers time and labour and if they can’t afford the US$1.25 entrance fee (centred in and around the girl’s parents house) they will pay with a bag of rice and perhaps a fish or vegetables. The $1.25 pays for food, drink and musicians. Cows, pigs and chickens are killed and butchered overnight and cooking of ALL of the animals from head to foot starts in the very early hours – the parts of a complex marriage service start at 6am and finish at 11pm.

 I love this little photo of Peesay collecting her empty cans….

…. Like Peesay in the photo, all the children benefit in a big way at big village parties: Adults don’t collect the empty beer cans; instead, they merely drop them on the floor – that is a signal to a nearby child to add the can to their string.

Anything and everything is recycled in rural Cambodia – aluminium cans is the easy one!! The children get 2 cents for every three cans… and that adds up!

Happy New Year from John, OUR children, their families, teachers, Chanthou AND Lauren who is here for 33 days.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

MERRY CHRISTMAS 2016 from OUR VILLAGES in KAMCHAY MEA DISTRICT

In CategoryJohns blog
Byadmin

 

Exactly eight years ago this was our Christmas miracle photo.. if you have read Nang’s story (on the left of screen) you will know the miracle after miracle of her young life. The baby is Peery.

 Then three years ago I took this photo immediately after Peery’s first day at School – Peery is TEACHING her mother her first ever lesson in reading and writing her own language. Peery was four years and six months old. (Nang and all the villagers never got the chance of SCHOOL). A few weeks later, Nang died

 Peery with her candle.

AND TODAY Christmas Day 2016 Peery wanted to show me she can fly. I said of course you can fly . “show me”..

I am more exhausted than she is as she jumps her rope a hundred times and I move as fast as I can to take another photo – faltering? Never.. Do it again and again ..

  

And that is a rock hard dirt floor. (a lot more photos in my camera today).

Now …. please – take a look at these portraits of concentration:

..children where no family member before them had ever been to school… all the villages CAN give them is love – and encouragement beyond dreams. All photos are my favourites but I do like this one of the little boy ( from a couple of years ago) just trying 100%.

 

I posted earlier in the year about our accidental discovery of the success of slate. When there are 100 children in your class – with a sea of slate held up for the teacher to see it’s MUCH easier to correct individual mistakes.

I have a large number of new photos and stories but I think that’s enough for this Christmas Day – There will be a few more at New Year.

Merry Christmas and Love to everyone from all the children, their families and me, John.

 

 

 

 

It’s Christmas time – and in our desperately poor corner of Kamchay Mear in Cambodia – there are miracles.

In CategoryJohns blog
Byadmin

Dear friends – new friends and older friends – from everywhere. (Its a BIG post this Christmas..)

In today’s BIG post I think we have given a comprehensive, thorough  view of, at the very least, a day in School.

We will start with an introductory paragraph for all first time visitors to our website:

“If you are new to our projects or haven’t visited this site for a while –here’s how it works:

Whenever you open the site, first-up, you come to the very latest post or ‘blog,’ like this one – and through the years now, we have hundreds of posts and several thousand original photos, all with their own notes.. As of today we have over 1340 primary age pupils. Our aim or mission is to provide basic primary education – maths, reading and writing in their own Khmer language, Science and General Studies including History, Geography, health, nutrition and hygiene. Join us please; we pay absolutely no one, no one at all except Cambodian teachers. We have no office or computer staff or administration costs. We rely on your financial help to pay the teachers, maintain the buildings and buy the books. If you like what you see, please find the ‘Donate’ page to the left of your screen and try to help us. (There is also a Donors page which lists all our donors of $500 or above). ‘Paypal’ donations go through The Rotary Club of Beaudesert in Australia and onto us in Cambodia with no money whatsoever taken from your donated amount. There’s lots of advice on the site about what money can buy for our children ... so now – today’s post -”

 As is with all the School photos below this first photo was taken on December 7th in one of our classrooms at the Chuor Ph’av campus of school buildings.

(Whether you are a first time browser, are from Rotary anywhere in the world, or from France, Britain, Beaudesert, New South Wales or Victoria or ELSEWHERE – whether you give A LOT or SOME.. there will be something here for you today – there is a paragraph showing the clear separation of Schools and Guesthouse and indeed who owns what.. AND a paragraph on ‘miracles’.)

In 2008, the year that we started our first school, The United Nations released a report entitled “Sex Slavery in The Lower Mekong” – our precise region was one of the worlds major sources of girls sold into slavery.

At the openings of the Beaudesert School and the Captains Choice Schools and the Antibes (France) buildings – girls from Phnom Penh’s sex bars almost flooded home to make sure that all their sisters went to school – a chance that none of them ever had.

With, at any one time, and currently, over 600 girls (and 600 boys) attending our Schools, local knowledge says that not one girl (or boy) has been sold or given to sex slavery since our Schools opened… One of the reasons is the simple fact that they are with each other and their teachers during most daylight hours and secondly, their education includes ‘rights and wrongs’… and they gain useful skills – the ability to read and write their own language and do arithmetic.

These School photos today  were all taken on December 7 by either me or by one of our wonderful teachers, Ren Soth.

The school photos today show a full 10 hours of teaching in a single day – two five hour shifts each with different children but with the same teachers (and that is what happens, every day. We try to have several staggered breaks with children outside to reduce class sizes – You will see children in classes, on verandas, playing outside and in various classrooms.

After the school photos you will see the six monthly salary  being paid to our Cambodian teachers – some news with a photo of our old friend Josh follows – also photos of some individual children who some of you will recognise and a few pictures around The Guesthouse. There’s a paragraph or three on doing the impossible and a paragraph on ‘sponsoring or donating generally’. … Just bear in mind that before our first school building, absolutely no one in our villages had EVER been to school and prospects for both girls and boys were extremely bleak… bleak beyond imagination.

… so with no electricity, no plumbing, no piped water (outside the school) and almost zero health care here are today’s photos with their notes.

 6.30 in the morning – arriving at school.

  Sok Ken our very special Head Teacher in her office with Wey, one of our ten year old boys. Within our 1340 pupil roll we have a number of orphans but we do not and will not claim any orphanage status – indeed all our orphans live within family groups throughout our 12 feeder villages.

  

As you may have seen from posts earlier this year a Charity named Clear Water gave us tanks and a sand filtering system. We paid for a pump and separate water bore and the overall shed. It’s brilliant – the cleanest water by far for many miles in any direction. Photo one is Sok Ken, justifiably proud. The second photo is a row of boys with one of the teachers Ren Soth (who took several of today’s photos (Particularly the selfies!) … and the tiny boy? he is a malnourished 8 year old.. The fact that he is with us is a tiny miracle in itself.

I’ll divide today’s classroom photos into three sections. Here comes the first section but in no particular order:

       

There are two more groups of classroom photos later on… but next we will look at photos taken by the teacher Ren Soth… the fat old guy in one of them is me.

 

You can see Sok Ken (head teacher) on the veranda and in another photo, three teachers together! Sitting on the veranda is Rot who lives next door to The Guesthouse and brings me to School every day on his 100cc motorbike.

 

Next comes a second grouping of classroom photos – again, in no particular order. Remember at any one time there are children IN classrooms and others OUTSIDE to reduce class sizes… and this all happens twice a day with different children but the same teachers.

And now I’ll insert paying the teachers which we do twice a year – June and December (now)

 Next to Sok Ken’s (Head teacher) desk is Uk Sonita, one of our female teachers and Srey Samun to my left is one of our male teachers… We pay our Cambodian teachers. We hand them cash (money) and we send receipts to The Rotary Club of Beaudesert for accounting. Indeed if you donate to us for any purpose, we send you a receipt. We need to maintain our buildings and currently we really NEED three new classrooms – but we also need blackboards – a number of ideas are listed in the ‘Donate’ Page to your left.

 Every  Dollar  (Euro or Pound) we pay to our wonderful TEACHERS is the direct result of YOUR. hard work and  generosity – cooking and selling breakfasts, selling raffle tickets, running auctions, and basically ‘donating’ whatever it takes to help our children survive and then thrive – no one , NO ONE else is paid anything – just our teachers. No foreigners, no secretary no manager – just our  Cambodian teachers – and when we need them, local builders. We welcome suitable volunteers but they, by definition, are unpaid.

Back to the classrooms..

           We know ALL of our children and have known many of them from birth. The end classroom photo above features Chanthay and Maigin near the camera and here they are again a few days ago at The Guesthouse. A number of our children have their own sections within the website as we follow their lives – Chanthay is one such child. Chanthay’s section is within the Page (to the left of your screen) named Village Children.

Next just two photos of one of our miracle children – Peery.

 

If you don’t know Peery or her story you are in for quite an experience if you look to the left of your screen and find ‘Nang’s Story’. Peery and her mother Nang, featured 7 years ago as our Christmas Miracle – eventually, as you would read, Nang  died and we now care for Peery. (“we” being the village and specifically Jana from Beaudesert who was very much moved by her situation and me… and if you read Nang’s story you will clearly see why ‘me’.)  Peery is still one of our miracles.

{I’ll insert a paragraph right here on ‘sponsorship’ – we have asked for and received donations for specific needs … one good but unqualified teacher who we put through University…. Chanthai with smashed teeth – that was a combination of Pachem Dental Clinic in Phnom Penh and a Donation … Supporting a girl (Soit who should have been in School who  we rescued from slave like conditions on an island farm – we are still working through difficult visa issues for her further education).. BUT sponsorship for ALL our children?? – I don’t think so. Sponsorship of over 1000 individual children may sound OK in principle but with even the huge charities it becomes somewhat unworkable and then actually deceptive!.. i.e. we cannot have a few cute kids with money and others with no money  so in reality money becomes pooled and spent on village or school issues – and that is what we ask for – money for PROJECTS not USUALLY individual sponsorship. We have had one of our classes sending pictures and messages back and forth to a French School (Mougins near Antibes) and money then donated to us from that French School.. BUT on the whole we treat all our 1340 children the same.}

Meanwhile – on the veranda and outside….

 Very precious children who need our help and get our help.

MIRACLES?

We are about half way through the photos, so, a good time to talk about “miracles.”

The definition would include words such as ‘impossible’ ‘cannot be done’ ‘no physical or known way it could be done’.

Four years ago I approached a large group of US Military Doctors visiting to help the poor “throughout Cambodia”. I went to see them – had a meal with them. “Sorry, cannot help you, you are far too remote and difficult to get to.” Koh Kong 2012.

Three years ago I approached Medicine Sans Frontiers… I explained that we are remote and heavily populated and had extremely poor children with virtually zero medical help… “Where are you”? they asked.  I explained and the response was, “Sorry you are too remote and difficult for us to get to.”.. Phnom Penh 2014.

We do it ourselves. Lives are saved but most die far too young of absurdly simply problems that are cured in most of the world’s places.

We have stopped children from our region being sold.

We give a basic elementary education to a lot of boys and girls.

…..so…who performs these miracles?..People from Antibes and Avignon in France (Hilary from France has been amazing from the beginning), Surrey, Kent,Somerset and Avon in England, New York… hundreds of people in Beaudesert and Queensland Australia, Northern and Southern New South Wales, Croydon in Melbourne (Phil Asker from Melbourne paid for TWO Schools – Captains Choice .. and many other miracle workers everywhere.. WITHOUT YOU THERE ARE NO MIRACLES.

 two teachers  with a clever but malnourished ten year old. We will help her.

 With our school bell!! 

  skipping.

   

 A very welcome bread delivery at The Tuck Shop.

… and back inside the classrooms ….

       

Then, back home after a very long day for each teacher. Me? Back the one kilometre to The Guesthouse.

THE GUESTHOUSE. and SCHOOLS.

SCHOOLS

We own none of our school buildings; once we build them, on Cambodian Government land, they become standard Cambodian Government Schools. We, through donations, pay salaries to the teachers, buy text books and exercise books and maintain the buildings.

Children, their families, the villages, Local, Provincial (State) and National Government are VERY grateful to us… that is all of us… all of us, you, reading this and helping.

THE GUESTHOUSE

The Guesthouse was built entirely with money donated for that purpose by Mark and Linda Jackson of Beaudesert with a little help from me. It was a tax deductible donation and went through the books of Rotary International – receipts etc etc. The Guesthouse is for visiting donors, sponsors, volunteer Nurses, Medical personnel, volunteer teachers and students from overseas. Not one cent of your donations go to The Guesthouse – it runs on money received from Guests… Indeed if and when we receive money in excess of running The Guesthouse, that will go to The Schools.

 

The Guesthouse Wall and The School Bus:

I took these photos of – ‘The School Bus’ – on November 30. Look behind the three girls in the first photo….

Beaudesert Rotary Club donated the Rotary Hoe (yes it IS a ROTARY hoe in the background) to the villages for everyone’s use with us in charge!! It is used for ploughing, raking, fetching, carrying and everyday it is used as a ‘school bus’ for children at the far ends of this village and the next two villages..Most children however either walk or have a bicycle.

These children, above, were on the bus and have stopped by to say ‘hello’.
Peter Greenwell of Beaudesert Rotary donated a tuk tuk (seen in MANY photos over the past two years) – the tuk tuk is used for hundreds of things but primarily for getting older children to High School….

… and on this side of The Guesthouse wall we find -

 … we find Sokleah and Soklep, the twins with Chanthai in the middle. They with other locals clean and cook at The Guesthouse. You might remember Chanthai from posts a couple of years ago in which Jana (our good Beaudesert friend) paid for inplants to replace all her front teeth top and bottom which had been smashed at age 8 in an accident.. Our favourite Dentist Bophal Uch in Phnom Penh heavily subsidised the cost. Chanthai is another child with her own section within the ‘page’ on the left of your screen titled ‘Village Children’. The twins belong to Chanthou and also feature often through the site. We pay them to work and give them their ‘uniforms.’

Just before we say “Good night,” at this time of Miracles, two more pieces of news:

 This is me with Josh – Josh Lowry – we had coffee in Phnom Penh in late November. Josh came to our villages a few years ago with a group from the Rotary Club of Beaudesert. Josh was inspired and works with a Childrens’ fund in Phnom Penh. Josh is VERY Information Technology savvy and what’s more he owns very good ‘drone’ with video camera!!! AND at some point during January (next month) Josh will come for his second visit to the villages and apart from saying hello again to the children, Josh will send his Drone over the homes, fields and School for some filming – very exciting.. We’ll post it here when it happens.

So… ‘miracles’?

perhaps part of the definition might be impossible to explain rationally… or doing the seemingly impossible.

Passion and belief from around the world… and hard work – difficult, even in retrospect, to comprehend the amounts of hard work that go into all of this.. hard work raising money in Europe and Australia and hard work here making sure we are doing what is needed.

So now it’s time for “Merry Christmas” from our children and I mean OUR children.

   This is the only Christmas tree for miles around; it’s on The Guesthouse balcony… no one celebrates Christmas here but as I have said at previous Christmas times, perhaps they do … and I am certain that we are surrounded by miracles.

Yes, our miracles require a lot of unbelievable hard work from a great many people.. Rotary everywhere, especially Beaudesert… Captains Choice of Melbourne… Hilary, European Queen from Antibes and now in Avignon… Ros, Roland and Eva, Jana.. sorry I started this attempt at a list; the list is enormous but you get some hint of an idea by finding the ‘Donors’ list to the left of you screen.

Love to everyone from John and all the children, their families and their teachers.