Telling people what we do, have done and would like to do next.

In CategoryJohns blog
Byadmin

 

BEFORE WE GET TO THE INTRODUCTORY PARAGRAPHS -

 

The “DONATE” Page is now 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 -

Today’s title, although obvious, doesn’t deal with WHO is telling people what we do and need.

The answer is anyone and everyone who hopes and dreams of our schools and villages thriving to the point of self sustainability.

We educate every girl and every boy from our 12 surrounding villages – the children are teaching their older siblings, parents and grandparents; there is a desire to do better; through our education and care we do not lose children to slavery.. much more to do. One day we WILL have health care, electricity and drinkable water but we are getting there from the position we were in ten years ago.

You are reading this so please take a big breathe and help us.. please YOU tell people what we do.. please help us to help OUR 1340 children. This is posted on December 1st 2017 and I return to our villages on the 11th – so lots of news and updates very soon!!

 

Spreading the word! And collecting hats!

We give a lot of talks – in this case to 4 year olds and their Kindergarten teachers in Kenmore, Brisbane. The children did understand that their surplus hats would be going to a poor country called Cambodia and we showed them on a Globe and I showed them village photos that they could understand and relate to. On December 11th these hats will be with me when I return to the villages and I am sure that the Our Lady of The Rosary Kindergarten children and teachers will genuinely gain a lot when they see photos that I will take of the hats with their new owners.

All the photos today are taken with my new Lumix Leica TZ80 camera and I am looking forward to using it back in Cambodia after December 11.

 

The two photos above and the following sixteen photos were all taken at the Beaudesert Rotary Club meeting held last Tuesday November 28. Most photos were taken by Lauren and I took the long shots showing whole tables of members. I’ve included all these today to give you some idea of what it’s like. We talk a lot mostly about how we can raise money to help people in need – like our villages! and we eat a meal! As we move through the photos I’ll make comment. Its serious business but done in a very friendly manner – as you can see. So first we have the two photos above: Lauren taking a selfie of herself and her friend Zara. On the right we see Geoff, tonight’s chairman, Susan, this years Club President and Lesley, this years Secretary and next year’s President. To the left we can just make out the back of Doug Drescher and the front of Peter Aldridge and Doug Lavers McBain.

  25 people (that night) all over age 18 sit around a rectangle of tables. Lots of people you see have been to our villages and so are well aware of our conditions and needs. That night I was ‘Sergeant’ and the Sergeant’s job is to try to keep the happy and informal evening on track and the bell (gong) is to TRY to stop people talking over each other ie. one person talking at a time please. Next to my empty chair is Lesley this years Secretary, next years President. Next to Lesley in what is really the centre of THIS top table is Susan (in green), this year’s President. We have a different Chairman every week – the person who introduces each item of business. That night it was Geoff who isn’t in THIS photo but is in an earlier one.

John (me) behind my gong (see notes above). three of us seem to share the Seargeant’s job through the year. The bottle of wine in this case is a raffle prize (lucky door prize).

 

Cambodia knows everyone in these two photos (above) Peter, Joy, Susie and Corrinne. (Corrinne rates a big mention in The District Governors Newsletter below)

 

We have two Rotary Exchange Students with us this year – Arantza from Spain and Nadoka from Japan.

 

I wont reintroduce me or Lesley again. Linda who is very well known in Cambodia, getting the last drop out of that bottle “if John’s going keep talking”! (Linda is mentioned again later re Days for Girls – below)

I 

Mark Jackson who like Linda has been seven times to Cambodia.  At the end of the meeting Mark ran the AGM to vote in officers for next year….(blurred photo but not terribly so – good of his shirt though) and Lauren who is still taking selfies with my camera.

 

To the right of Corrinne is John Forbes Smith who also came to our villages a few years ago. In the mauve blouse – extreme right is Amanda Gillow a BRAND NEW MEMBER. Tonight’s chairman (see above) is Amanda’s father, Geoff Gillow.

 

Tamara (another well loved person in Cambodia) catches Lauren taking her photo. In the second photo we see last years President Shane valiantly ignoring both a large box of chocolates (which Lauren sells) and Jeff our Club Treasurer (who is probably either appealing for money or being funny – which he is – in a humourous way! We also get a glimpse of Denis.

 

This (above) is a photo of a Newsletter. It is the brand new DECEMBER Newsletter from The Rotary District 9640.  Rotary 9640 comprises the greater Gold Coast of Australia together with Northern New South Wales (just south of The Gold Coast). Beaudesert (my Club) along with 53 neighbouring clubs make up District 9640.

If you click on the photo (above) and enlarge it you should be able to read it easily. THIS entire website records EducatingCambodia’s ten year History – last month I summarised the ten years down to ten pages and today a wonderful Rotarian named Franz Huber has brought the entire ten years down to ONE PAGE! It is a photo so the links at the end don’t work but those links are about how to Donate and you can find that in many places including at the beginning of TODAY’S post AND to left of this computer screen as ‘Donate.”

 

Days For Girls. (the two photos above).

Kathy Wallace is a friend of ours from ‘Help Cambodia Wagga’ from Wagga Wagga – south of Sydney. Kathy sent me this box yesterday. It contains three beautifully made ‘kits’ for girls in the poorer regions of the world. Without going into any detail each bag is for a girl and her hygeine – everything is washable and even includes underwear and soap. Instructions have already been translated into Khmer (our language) and include detailed pictures. (One washable kit covers one girls needs.) ….

…. This is what we will do: Linda Jackson who is from Beaudesert, appears dozens of times through this website and has been to our villages on seven occasions – is coming to the villages in February 2018 and together with Chanthou and probably our headmistress Sok Ken will talk through what to do.. need? numbers? sizes? whatever – THEN I imagine that Linda will talk through our needs with Kathy in Wagga.

 

    

We finish today with this (above) sequence of five screen shots from Le9 Theatre in Avignon. Long time readers of this blog will know that Le9 is Hilary’s new Theatre in Avignon run by Hilary and Jean Pierre Lemaire. (Hilary was and is one of our biggest and original friends and Donors (see the ‘Donors’ Page to left of screen.)

Hilary’s website has both a French and an English version. As you read your way through these five screenshots (photos taken of the website itself) you will discover that:…

…”The Distinguished Soprano’, Sally Bradshaw together with ‘Veteran Actor’ (been acting for a very long time, I think it means!) Les Clack will perform “A Thousand Years of Christmas” accompanied by Genevieve Foucroulle on Piano.

You will read that the performers are foregoing payment so that OUR EducatingCambodia Schools Benefit.

The children 1340 of them know very very well of Hilary’s partnership with me and everyone concerned and are excited that on December 8 and 9 there are shows in France FOR THEM.. Quite a remarkable concept even for adults to get their heads around.

x Thank You Avignon x

Having successfully finished seeing Doctors in Australia I arrive in Cambodia on December 11 and so I’m certain that you will be hearing from me before Christmas.

John.

 

 

 

 

2007 – 2017 and onwards. Ten Year Summary.

In CategoryJohns blog
Byadmin

 

  Cambodia 2007 – 2017

Within this website you can find the full and ongoing history with thousands of photos and detailed notes. To the left of screen there is a full and constantly updated list of Donors and ways to Donate. There are a great many significant people not included in this relatively short ‘Ten Year Summary’. There are hundreds of minor works and small projects not listed today but they are all within the website. These few paragraphs do I think give an overview since the beginning in 2007 to November 2017.

The writing and photographs today are an expansion of a ten year report for “The Rotary Club of Beaudesert” as part of Beaudesert’s 60 year Dinner held on October 28 2017 –

 Beaudesert Rotary Club, Exchange Students, Visiting Rotarians, Family and Friends. Photo taken at the 60 year Dinner at Beaudesert RSL Club October 28 2017. (Denis Bettridge’s camera)

 …and one of Linda and Mark with me at the Dinner for 60 years of The Rotary Club of Beaudesert….. for which I had written a ‘Ten years in Cambodia’ report, that inspired this much bigger Report/Summary.

 …Today, I have added to that report.

The reasons for, and early planning of, OUR Schools are well documented within the website:

I visited our main village of Chuor Ph’av in 2005 and again in 2007. They were heavily populated rural villages with no school, no sanitation or drinking water, no health care and no electricity. As the United Nations often says – ‘Start with EDUCATION’.

Personally I had no money but I had friends. I called Corrinne Delahunty, a friend in Beaudesert who was a member of Rotary International. I told Corrinne that I had planned a way for a school to be built on Government land by locals. A strong building. After it was built we would pay NO ONE except Cambodian teachers and import no materials – ALL LOCAL. Over time in 2007 ( there are photos of those planning months on the website.) I took 42 good photos.

At the same time, I told my friend of 50 years, Hilary Lemaire in Antibes, France (then Hilary King) all about it and showed Hilary the photos and talked through the ‘Dream’.  I also told our mutual friend Ros Rokisson in England.

In mid  March 2008 I returned to Australia and Corrinne took me to her Rotary Club in Beaudesert – I talked through the plan and showed all of the 42 photographs that I had taken. The Club wanted to take it on as a ‘project’.

In late March 2008 I joined the Rotary Club of Beaudesert.

As luck would have it there was a big District Rotary Conference in Yamba (New South Wales – Australia) one week after I joined!

Heather Yarker, a wonderful Gold Coast Rotarian, who was at the Conference LOVED the plan and was and is of enormous help. In April of 2008 Heather helped us register ‘The Plan’ INTERNATIONALLY – so – ‘Schools and Related Projects in Cambodia’ was registered as a Rotary International Project and as a RAWCS (Rotary Australia World Community Service) Project with an ID of ‘Cambodia 55 2007- 2008’ – and this was before we had raised one dollar! And before we had named what we do “Educating Cambodia” (why ‘Educating Cambodia’?  I wanted to start a website and every combination of ‘school’ ‘children’ and ‘Cambodia’ was taken as a “ .com “ except ‘educatingcambodia’ – so that is what we are!)  We still operate with that RAWCS ID number.

At that Conference in Yamba, we received approval and minutes later we were given our very first donation by the owners of Iluka Caravan Park – $1000. The Beaudesert Rotary Club President 07 – 09  was Albert Prior.

Brian Yarrow was President through the next crucial year of 08-09 (from July 1st 08 – June 30 09). We needed $26,000 to buy all the materials locally for that first school which is a single building of three 10 metre x 10 metre rooms. We would never employ ANYONE except village builders and Cambodian teachers – and this, we have maintained over the years. We received donations from Brian himself, from our Club, many members, Southport Rotary and Hilary in France. (I write much more of France as you read on.)

THAT FIRST SCHOOL WAS OPENED IN DECEMBER 2008. 10 Club members travelled to Cambodia for the opening..

 96 children in THE MORNING SHIFT of Grade 1. Our very first School Day!

During Corrinne Delahunty’s Presidential year we planned an identical building to be School ‘two’. Through friends of Rotarian Heather Yarker (see above), ‘Captain’s Choice Travel’ of Melbourne entirely funded the second school and with a Rotary Foundation ‘Matching Grant’ we opened that school in Doug Lavers McBain’s Rotary year in December 2010. The Matching Grant got us solar electricity, books, sports equipment, musical instruments, uniforms and desks. (Desks made by mums and dads and EVERYTHING sourced locally.)

2011 saw Otago Polytechnic in Dunedin, New Zealand be VERY helpful indeed. For three months a group of IT students created THIS Website. It was our first use of Facebook and the opening of EducatingCambodia Facebook Page. We are forever grateful to Otago Polytechnic, the IT Department and my two lead students!.. I was there with them. I knew nothing – they knew everything… This website is HERE because it is STILL hosted by the IT Department’s successor – Otago Polytechnic’s College of Enterprise and Development. ….. I can’t possible miss mentioning my number one favourite Dunedin cafe – run by Kimleang’s Cambodian family!!! – it’s called the Khmer Satay Friendly Noodle Restaurant (or words to that effect), just round the corner on George Street and if someone reminds me of the real name, I’ll re-edit this section)

Again, Captain’s Choice funded the THIRD school in Prey t’Baing village. Our Club paid the teachers of the first school and Captain’s Choice paid teachers in the 2nd and 3rd schools.

(photo of the children running TO School on the first ever school day in Prey t’Baing.)

Antibes, France….. After two years, Captains Choice stopped paying their teachers . Prey t’Baing Teachers were taken on by Antibes in France. France then also took on combined schools’ maintenance and the building of teachers accommodation known as ‘Chez Hilary’. – that building is now our PRE-SCHOOL. Antibes became one of our very biggest donors and Prey t’Baing School was renamed ‘Antibes School’

My friend Hilary rented a THEATRE in the centre of Old Antibes and with mostly English and Irish Professional Actors, Theatre Groups and Musicians produced Professional Theatre. Antibes supported everything we did from, buildings, books to  teachers.

  Eva and Roland from Sweden via Antibes stopped off in Phnom Penh to buy OUR children a mountain of exercise books and pens -Antibes School in the photo on the left and Chuor Ph’av swings on the right.

Hilary LOVED and LOVES what we are doing in Cambodge (Cambodia) and started in those very early days to be very much our joint partner. Hilary had a large home on Cap d’Antibes and soon, Hilary’s Cambodia Shows moved to her home. (see, also, a later reference to Hilary’s new Theatre.)

UNICEF gave us the swings and slide and Kevin Marsden’s Beaudesert Rotary Club year paid for a ‘rotary hoe’ to improve village farming. Peter Greenwell paid for a tuk tuk to ferry children to High School – it also carries everything imaginable from cement to pigs and journeys to market. We have a ‘filtered ground water to drinking water’ system donated by a combination of ‘Cleanwater Cambodia’ and France.

  

 Above you see wonderful concentration. We find that with our huge class sizes slate is much better than paper for learning to write. The teachers can easily see an array of slates held high. Also above – Mark and Linda sit in on a high achievers maths class… and being maths, on the whole, they could follow it on the black board.

3 years ago Antibes money ceased as Hilary and husband Jean Pierre moved to Avignon. That money should restart during 2018. In early days I visited Hilary and her Theatres (including the original Red Pear Theatre in Old Antibes… plus a performance for EducatingCambodia at Mougin International School, Cote d’Azur of “Portrait of Dorian Grey”  by brilliant Irish Professional  Actors (all Hilary’s performers are professional and perform for OUR Cambodian children)…. In July 2016 I visited Hilary and Jean Pierre in their new home in Avignon; they were converting the huge ground floor into ‘Le9 Theatre’ – it is next door to The Grand Opera House of Avignon.

So, recapping – that left the Antibes School without a donor for teachers’ salaries. Peter Greenwell has so far picked up the cost of their 3 teachers. The combined schools’ attendance has grown to 1340 overall in two shifts per day. We pay the teachers a salary supplement of US$360 per year each. Beaudesert pays for 11 teachers. These are Cambodian Government Schools on Government land. The Cambodian Government pays each teacher US$900 per year.

We strive constantly for ‘sustainability’.. Of course it will be good when the villages can totally support their own schools…. to that end we are educating every single child in the district. we try to advise and help with farm help and transport. In every way we started at a point immediately post Pol Pot. As repeat visitors all say, improvement is clear – but we did start with officially Cambodia’s poorest villages – this and the encouragement and appreciation  we get from the families and all levels of their government is why we are still here and need to be still here.

     A great many photos of teachers right through the website.  This last one today of one of our wonderful teachers was taken three days ago in the Pink Clinic/Staffroom.

Over the years, so far, a number of people have made MAJOR donations for specific needs – again all detailed in the website. We sent one of our first and highly valued teachers to part time University for 12 months: Nang’s daughter, Peery (see Nang’s Story in the website) is supported by Jana. ..

  This was Peery’s first day at school; she was almost 5 years old. She was so very proud of her slate she wanted to show her mother her first letters… REMEMBER NO ONE HAD EVER BEEN TO SCHOOL BEFORE WE ARRIVED IN THE VILLAGES. THIS SCENE OF  CHILD TEACHING PARENTS IS REPEATED THROUGH THOUSANDS OF FAMILIES.

(Do I have a favourite photo out of the many thousands? Yes – this one, above – Peery teaching her mum -.  The reason that Peery receives extra support is explained in ‘Nang’s Story’) Incidentally my personal second favourite is of 12 year old children RUNNING TO SCHOOL on the first ever School day in Prey ‘t’Baing. {scroll back 13 photos to find it.}

..Chanthai’s smashed teeth were replaced by 8 implants(!) with both Jana’s donation and our wonderfully supportive Phnom Penh Dentist Bophal Uch  (Chanthai is now our Guesthouse Housekeeper and photos and notes from Chanthais treatment are in the “village Children’ section of the website.)..

.. Roz from England supports in many ways, incuding Thean to University and Soit who we rescued from difficult work conditions at age 14 and returned her to school. Susan Page, Beaudesert Rotary Club President NOW – 2017 – 2018 kept our villages going for several years with First Aid equipment and general medicines. Many MANY other small works and projects are within the website.

With contributions from our Club and France we had built the Pink Clinic (see within the line of buildings). We are not operating as a full Clinic yet but we have simple First Aid and a Registered Nurse – Chandarith – who was one of our original students in 2008 – see the website, Nov 2015.

Every year a number of Club members visit – Linda and Mark Jackson have been 7 times – Lauren Hanser 3 times. Since 2008 John Mann has spent alternating 3 month blocks in the villages and back here in Australia.

We need another building of 3 classrooms to be situated where the swings now are (Swings to be relocated near the main entrance). We need US$30,000 to build that block and at this time of writing, we are waiting to hear from a possible donor – this will mean extra teachers and that issue is part of talks. The Donor or Donors will have ‘naming rights’.

Linda and Mark Jackson paid for the building of Our Guesthouse for volunteers and visitors. This is thoroughly detailed with many photos within the website. The photo above shows the Beaudesert Rotary Club visit of 2014.

The 15 villages of Don Kong Commune, in the District of Kamchay Mear in Prey Veng Province are officially the ‘poorest in Cambodia’ – and 12 of those villages attend OUR Schools. We are educating them to give them a good chance of survival first and then sustainable prosperity – and they, many thousands of people within our families, are very VERY grateful to The Rotary Club of Beaudesert, to France, England and every single donor – all of whom are listed within the website.

John Mann.

 

 

1.Rotary in Australia. Any progress with extra classrooms 2. Rotary Exchange Student. 3.Beaudesert Show. 4.Hilary and Avignon. 5. Children at play and Guesthouse chores. 6. Two videos.

In CategoryJohns blog
Byadmin

 

BEFORE WE GET TO THE INTRODUCTORY PARAGRAPHS -

 

The “DONATE” Page is now 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 -

Unlike any previous posting we’ve divided this post into six areas. Overall, today, there are introductory notes and photo captions plus there are two new videos and 26 new photos (plus two reminders!).

 

After my return to Australia – At the weekly meeting of The Rotary Club of Beaudesert on September 19 at the usual venue of The Logan and Albert Hotel. In the first photo you can just see Linda and then Mark, then Susan – our Club President, then Jeff our Treasurer, then me – John, Lauren and Mathew. Nodoka our Rotary Exchange Student from Japan. (more on Nodoka below). I was giving The Club an update about my recent and latest three months in Cambodia.

October 11 in the Queensland town of Harrisville there will be a ‘cluster meeting’ of five neighbouring Rotary Clubs. I’m given the chance to give a brief overview presentation of our work in Cambodia. We need a partner club or group of clubs to join us so any outcome will be interesting and welcome.  October 28 is the 60th anniversary dinner of The Rotary Club of Beaudesert – more below.

The need for three more classrooms – update

As reported several times recently we NEED more classroom space . We have 1340 children and ten classrooms – and even in two shifts of early morning through to early evening we are very overcrowded. We are talking with a person from The Gold Coast of Australia who might be able to help us. Please everyone note that we also pay our teachers, buy books, maintain the buildings etc etc and that anyone who funds the building of say a classroom block gets the naming rights and therefore remembered forever!

ANYONE can donate ANY amount and a browse through the DONATE and DONOR sections to the left of your screen will tell you what we need.. but any ideas from YOU are very VERY welcome.

 

On October 28 The Rotary Cub of Beaudesert will be 60 years old! To help celebrate the Club is hosting a BIG dinner. The two photos above – Nodoka is our one year Rotary Exchange student from Japan. Nodoka is making paper crane table settings. Nodoka is sitting next to Linda. More on both Nodoka AND Linda below.

 When I am in Australia I live with my friends Mark and Linda. The three of us sitting on that couch are the Committee along with Chanthou in Cambodia which runs EducatingCambodia – what we do in the villages.  Bam and Rowdie complete the picture with Rowdie sitting in MY chair guarding my wine. Mark and Linda funded the building of The Guesthouse and have visited Cambodia eight out of the past Nine years and are coming again in January 2018. Mark and Linda love our Schools and our Schools and our 1340 children love Mark and Linda.

My faithful camera had finally died and the two Rotary meeting photos above, together with the photo with the dogs, plus the first three Beaudesert Show photos, below, were taken with my brand new Panasonic Lumix TZ80 with a Leica lens. (‘The Dogs and us’ photo was taken from a tripod and delayed exposure.) Looking forward to getting the camera back to Cambodia.

 

 

Three photographers for this section on THE SHOW.. I took the first three (with my new camera which will serve us well in Cambodia.)

The Beudesert Show is Beaudesert Rotary Club’s biggest fund raiser each year. The Show is a two day event – a country show of animal and produce competitions from beef and grain to vegetables and flowers – art and cake making to show dogs and horse jumping – a fairground and food stalls…. and that’s where we come in; The Rotary van cooks burgers, steaks and chips and Rotarians (members of Rotary) volunteer to raise money for Club Projects. This year we had members of The Fassifern Club helping us – Fassifern Club will be at the Cluster meeting described above for October 11.

 In this photo. Doug is sitting. Doug came with his wife Joy to Cambodia some years ago – as did Marc McCabe who is in the previous photo. Geoff Gillow is also in the previous photo – frying chips.

 

These next five photos were taken with Nodoka’s camera! Members David, Tamara and Kathy in the food van. Nodoka is wearing her Beaudesert High School uniform.

 

 

The Beaudesert Show continues for two days until 10pm each night. These three photos were taken by Club member – Lesley.

In Lesley’s three photos we see Shane our immediate Past President, Peter, who does lots of great project volunteer work in The Solomon Islands.. and Eliza who is Lesley’s daughter. In the SECOND photo we see Eliza with Arantza our Spanish Rotary Exchange Student (like Nodoka but from Spain!) and Shane again. We also get a glimpse of Linda at the Chip Fryer.

 

A few days ago I took Nodoka (see above also) to The Grand Plaza Shopping Centre – 40 minutes north of Beaudesert. Nodoka didn’t want Sushi, she wanted a Chicken and avocado fillo roll. My meal was slightly less healthy – Scone, jam and a lot of cream.. yum.

 

Hilary and Le9 Theatre, Avignon, France

Long time readers will be used to “France” updates from Antibes. Hilary and all her friends in Antibes plus all Hilary’s visitors and performers from around the world soon became our BIGGEST donors. Hilary moved to Avignon with her wonderful craftsman (and guitarist) husband Jean Pierre and built a THEATRE within her historic town house just a ten paces from The Opera House of Avignon.

Hilary’s new Theatre is named Le9 Theatre Avignon – it just happens to be the street number. There are photos if you scroll back in time starting around 14 months ago when I was present for a tiny bit of the HUGE and incredible building phase.

Please read the poster above. There is a performance on October 6 and Hilary has just told me – there is an extra performance on the 5th!

So if you are anywhere near Planet Earth on the 5th or 6th of October – there is a great Concert on in Avignon and OUR children in Kamchay Mear district of Prey Veng, Cambodia will receive the help they so seriously need.

Please remember or know that 100% of donated money is spent on our Children’s Education. Other projects such as individual health needs or help with village farming are dealt with as completely separately funded projects but again, 100% of money raised goes to the project. We employ NO ONE except Cambodian teachers.

 

 

While I’m away in Australia, the teachers often send me photos. On the left we have Sreymao and on the right Sreymao is joined by SoNita. Great teachers.

 

When not at school a lot of our children call in to play and talk at The Guesthouse. Chanthai is THE Housekeeper. Chanthai is firm and kind with sometimes 20 children at a time ….. sooo she gets them happily cleaning. All three of the girls in the photo above have their own sections in “village children’ – one of the sections to the left of your screen. Micara, Chanthai and Chanthay.

 

 

… and I’ve added the two ‘playing in the rain’ photos from last month just to remind you that its not all work!

 

 

Ironwork and the Gate almost finished.

On September 1 we included photos and notes regarding the agreement with The Government that we would provide

not only a secure front wall and gate but also an ‘imposing statement’. Look back to last month to see 1) damage done by a bulldozer which we had to fix ( paid for by Mark) and the new ironwork running the length of the Front Wall (paid for by me, John.)

(painting of the grey cement will be done at a later date)

Things built traditionally with craft skills, hard work and love… and built to last.

Last but by no means least. Just to show you how all our incredible skilled carpentry is done! TRADITIONALLY and BY HAND.

This would be one of the oldest working saws in the world and it’s in our villages. Known variously around the world as a Pack Saw or Bow Saw or Frame Saw.

Lots of news coming soon so that is when we’ll write again, John.

 

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.