Merry Christmas-December 25 2021 – first the teachers salaries then a 3 month update through photos. John.

In CategoryJohns blog

and as always, Chanthou has paid all the teachers salaries to Sok Ken, the head teacher who in turn has placed cash into every teachers hands  

Our first post since May 9 2021- 34 photos and notes to get us up to date.

In CategoryJohns blog

Dear friends everywhere,

[Our website is built on a WordPress template and I probably need to update this template as well as the blog update.. I’ll update WordPress next time ..MEANWHILE today’s photos  seem to have been inserted in a  completely random manner… so at the end of this introduction I’ll briefly explain each photo in the order in which it appears through the Blog..John]

“The world is trying to operate with a pandemic raging and sadly, we are no different; as you will see from the past four month’s photos, our schools have, for much of the time been closed and almost everyone, most of the time, is wearing a mask…

For the entire time of schools being closed, our teachers and students have worked full time with both online learning and teachers running classes in all the biggest homes throughout our villages

HOWEVER it seems that the schools are now reopening, to start with – with a limit of 15 children per room – we’ve got a lot of rooms plus we operate on two shifts everyday….so, it’s a reasonable start.

In this catch up period I’ll post all the photos with few notes, as explained above, and I hope it all makes some sense.

1 (the first photo, above) is the most important photo of all. It was taken a few days ago at our Prey t’Baing School. A Cambodian Doctor from within Cambodia has donated US$100 for the School to use. This introduction to independence is what we’ve been aiming towards for 13 years.

2 In preparation for reopening Chanthou and all the District leaders meet to discuss what is necessary.

3 The random placement of photos by WordPress begins..A brick built incinerator, similar to the one at the Chuor Pháv complex of Schools has been built at the Guesthouse.

4 During the entire period of Schools being closed – much of the past 4 months – all our teachers have taught all our children in the larger homes using both their own teaching resources and the Governments online classes … This photo is of a girl studying at home.

5 The first of 5 photos of Landscaping happening at Chuor Pháv while the Schools were closed.

6 Chanthou and leaders around a bed. During lockdown in Cambodia no one can earn any money and there is zero social welfare. The leaders distribute food and essentials from money we have donated.

7 You see a new drinks trough at Prey t’Baing – this is the first of 10 photos of landscaping, maintenance and new capital work at Pret t’Baing (Antibes School)

8 While in lockdown and school closure we have created a Logo (we haven’t had one before) .. you’ll see it on new bags as you scroll.

9 The second of Prey t’Baing’s landscaping photos.

10 – 15 As old friends will know, Clee was the first person I photographed in our villages in 2007; she became our website ”Guardian” at the top right corner of our banner…. So there’s a photo from THEN and NOW.. Right now Clee is an unemployed Actress and Singer – as are Clee’s parents in the next two photos.

16,17 and 18 are three more landscaping photos from Prey t’Baing.

19 Teacher reps from Chuor Pháv receiving the June Salary supplement from Chanthou on our behalf.

20  Teacher reps from Prey t’Baing receiving the June Salary supplement from Chanthou on our behalf.

21 The Entrance sign of our Chour Pháv Schools  is restored and maintained.

22 and while the schools are closed the grounds are well maintained by teachers before and after their home based lessons. You may recall, the statue is a recent addition and is a famous role model for teachers across Cambodia.

23 This one is self explanatory – our new logo appears on, in this case, bags.

24, 25, 26 and 27 are of me, John. in our newly designed hooded jacket.

28 -32 Five photos taken on the first day of reopening in Chuor Ph’av  {Tuol Sen Che in Khmer)..Limited at this early stage to 15 students to every room, twice a day.. plus a photo of the staff room – talking through the Government’s requirements for the first few days.

I’ll have WordPress sorted out by the next time

we post  =  Love from all our children, all the teachers and all the families – and me, John.

We need financial help to keep our Schools running … Please look in the menu to the left of your screen and open the “Donate page for two secure options from which 100%. of money goes to our schools  John


Our village families need urgent help at this time of Covid-19

In CategoryJohns blog
Dear friends everywhere,

   In our villages, travel to towns is impossible right now because of Covid-19 restrictions; most of the garment factories are closed anyway.

There is no social welfare.
There is home grown food but many of our children’s families are unable to buy either basic ingredients or the most basic of essentials.
     I want to give our main villages a total of US$1000 {AUD$1600 approx) right NOW –
   – we have no petty cash or any Dollars at all to spare – 
       This link takes you directly to the ‘ways to donate’ page in our website. If you can help us with a small amount or a big amount we and our village families will be very grateful.
   If we receive more than the US$1000 it will go towards a new building at the Prey t’Baing {Antibes} School.

Here’s the Donate link:-

There are two ways to donate and both are secure, transparent & with 100% going to the schools (in this specific case, to the families) and zero% going to administration, or IT,  Promotion or anyone other than a Cambodian villager:
– as usual we will give a full report on the outcome of this plea from me.
      Most Australians donate through the Australian Rotary Link. All overseas credit card users will need to use the PayPal link.
    thank you and kindest regards from John.

January, February and March 2020: 31 short YouTube videos and 73 photos.

In CategoryJohns blog

Hello to everyone from John. (if your browser says that this site is not secure, please ignore that; its a quirk of the software which cant be corrected just yet. The site is very safe and secure.) Please enjoy the videos and photos.

The last post from me was on Christmas Day 2019 – three months ago.

As you will see, the schools are doing well. it is certainly time to post the photos and videos that we have accumulated…..

….a lot of photos and videos this time: 31 new YouTube videos and 73 photos.

Everything is in sequence starting in Chuor Pháv village in late December and closing on my return to Australia with a Rotary meeting. I MIGHT be back into Cambodia well in time for the teachers six monthly salary supplement in May/June otherwise I will send the money electronically. (See closing paragraph after the photos re Corona Virus)

All the video clips contain my commentary and are scattered in time line sequence through the photos so that very largely the entire run of photos WITH videos is self-explanatory –

  • so – there are no notes with or between the photos and videos BUT we’ll start with a complete running order – in note form:

We start in and around the annual fair at Chuor Pháv School – at the Wat/Temple and our Schools.

Next – on Christmas Day I told you that Picadeh (Kamau’s son) was very sick; very sadly Picadeh died and was buried in the Wat grounds.

You have now reached (possibly) a photo of Srey Neang and her piggy bank. This was yet another moving day in the life of our village children. Srey Neang asked me for $2.50 to buy a baby pig. I was delighted by the sound of this ‘farming’ venture and suggested she needed two baby pigs.. Srey Neang said one was enough….The next day, Srey Neang returned with the blue piggy bank. I put money into her piggy and bought more piggies for other children.

Soon there’s a photo of ‘bubbles’ in the Guesthouse and a trip to Prey Veng town through fields of Lotus blooms.

We should have arrived at a series of 48 self explanatory photos and videos (the videos doing the explaining) …… and then 34 photos and videos at Antibes School in Prey t’Baing village – this series finishing with some outside building work; the teachers are building a kitchen area.

Next we should find a photo of me with Clee’s mother and father. Clee was the first person I photographed in any of our villages – you can find lots of references to Clee within this site. If you look up to the top right hand corner of the banner of this site – that is Clee.

Zoe has bought a new 18 year old car which will live at the Guesthouse – built in Japan and lived all its life in Atlanta USA. It has been newly registered in Cambodia.

There are four photos next of the existing volley ball court next to what will become our second volley ball court.

We are almost finished for today. Zoe, Warn (our main builder and my friend), Warns wife Jinny, Chanthou and I took the car on a 3 day holiday to Ratanakiri in Cambodia’s far north east.

We close today with four photos of a Rotary meeting I attended on my return to Beaudesert, Australia in early March 2020

Please browse through the thousands of photos and notes within OUR website. If you feel that you can help us financially – either one donation or regular (whatever you like) then look to the contents list on your left and click on “Donate” – and choose through Rotary or PayPal; both are secure and used successfully by us for several years.

Love from John and all our children, teachers and families.






































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































As I wrote far above – The 31 YouTube videos are self explanatory. Around the videos the 73 photos follow sequentially but need the explanation that you’ll find in the opening paragraphs.

This is all written in the time of Corona Virus and lock down. The software behind this enormous post is not working well at all. SORRY… The alternative to posting this three month summary was to delay the update well into the future.

I am writing on behalf of all the schools, the children and their teachers. Right now, today we are in lockdown in Brisbane, Australia. I have just spoken with people in our villages and they are also (more or less) in lockdown. All our children and teachers are well today. Love from John.

Merry Christmas 2019 with 9 joyous YouTube videos and 23 happy photos.

In CategoryJohns blog

Merry Christmas from John, all the children, the teachers and the families in Cambodia.

There is no asking for money in today’s enormous Santa Bag of videos, photos and notes. It comes in three sections. First is a tour around the Chuor Ph’av campus of Schools – then we visit the Prey t,Baing School (The Antibes School) and then, a larger third section – The wedding of Chanthou’s daughter, Soklek to Neath.

Unlike all other posts over the years, most of the information today is within the YouTube videos – so if you skip the videos you’ll miss most of today’s information and the joyous stuff too.

Whenever I can I’ll leave photos to be self explanatory and in most of the 9 YouTube videos I give a commentary. Here goes. It’s big –   SORRY. I hope you find it interesting, first and foremost, but also at this Christmas time – a lot of joy is shown by everyone in the photos and videos.

We’ll start – above – with the biggest video today –  its a tour around the Chuor Pháv campus of Schools including the absolute up to date look at our network of paths that we’ve been planning for 5 months.

NB: All the money for the concrete path network was donated specifically for these pathways. Obviously, not one dollar of donated money went towards the wedding.

Next, we have a look at the making of that pathway and the paying of the teachers their six monthly salary from us.

In one of the photos below you can see Soth, one of our teachers, helping with cement production. ALL cement and concrete, from floors to beams and columns is hand mixed in the way shown.

The photos start here with our Head Teacher Sok Ken in the Staffroom.





























The wedding section starts here but sadly I’m having huge issues with WordPress so that as you just might have noticed the order in which photos, videos and text are appearing is quite bizarre.. however I can do nothing about it soooo please dear reader – I know you are clever (all my friends are clever) so please try to work your way through what I think you’ll agree are some pretty special photos videos and stories

Makeup and everything else started on day two -the 21st – very early. I took the makeup video  at 4.40am (after the next row of photos)

The double length marquee fitted perfectly next to the Guesthouse.

below- I’ll try to find a place for a photo or two of the massive task undertaken by all our local children – the cleaning BEFORE the wedding. I wonder whether I can beat technology and find a spot for a photo of my friend and  builder – Warn and me …YES – success, it’s sneaked in next to the children cleaning!

The video above is the first big ceremony of the day – the Procession.

The video below is breakfast time for everyone!!









A few photos above – the Bride, on a chair, has time out supervised by me as ‘The Wedding Bride Minder’.

In the photo immediately above, we see the Bride Sok lek and her mother Chanthou simply looking at each other.

In the video below we see what I think is a very moving ritual (among many others!). Close family and friends form a circle and pass around all their love and protection to the couple through lit candles. In the photo below the video you see that the couple has received the candles.









The evening celebrations are well under way – below
We manged not only to sleep 150 people for each of two nights, we fed 600 guests. This is my table – the teachers’ table.

Market stalls are popping up outside our gates… and rumour has it that a HOUSE is blocking our road!

During the evening a large number of stalls have set up to attract our hundreds of guests. This is Mab (below), Aunt to Peery (sister of Nang) selling soft drinks.








Below we see the ‘Official District Wedding Collection Tin’ (seriously) next to my safe at The Guesthouse.










The following morning! and has the house moved ? On your left – Panya and her friends collect cans for recycling. Yes, I have noticed the plastic waste …we are working on it.

In our earlier days, Anni was our housekeeper and first Guesthouse keeper. Anni is now married with a lovely daughter, Yurra.








We’ll close today with a photo of Picadeh and his mother Kamau. Picadeh is still a sick boy but as you can see, there are joyous days.



Merry Christmas everyone, from John and everyone in our Cambodian villages xx

Classes are very good and the concrete paths are happening – not to mention, Christmas is coming

In CategoryJohns blog

Hello again from our remote but heavily populated villages and Schools in the Kamchay Mear District of Prey Veng Province in Cambodia.

Today is December 1st 2019. A lot is happening here so I will post again on Christmas Day – Good things are happening so the day is quite appropriate.

Possibly because of ‘Windows updates’ and/or ‘WordPress updates’, it is currently extremely difficult and sometimes impossible to edit in comments and notes (text) into a string of photos and videos. [on Christmas Day I will use a different technique – photo then text then photo then text so there will be no editing needed.] For today and the several days we’ve been putting this together with very little internet available anyway – I wont start again! ….

…. so, for today only, I’ll list now, all the photos and YouTube videos as they appear below in sequence – so that without notes, you can still make sense of it all. Good luck to both you and me.

The First Sequence of photos and videos.

I had been in Australia for three months fund raising and visiting friends. The first three photos were taken on Magnetic Island. Our fourth School which opened on January 26 this year is named My Health School after Carrie’s International Yoga Company – My Health Yoga. Carrie’s mother Zoe is very much part of it all and in the first three photos you see Carrie recording a video designed for Yoga teachers to teach Yoga to the ELDERLY … yes, the elderly!! Carrie’s class for the video was me and Zoe. My Health Yoga has its own TV Channel ‘My Health Yoga TV’. We are very VERY pleased with all the support our children and teachers receive from My Health Yoga.

Next in the sequence are two photos and a video about our phone campaign. As you might have read in previous posts, we receive donated old phones and in the villages we reset and restore them ready for sale to help support our Schools – the YouTube clip  explains what we do and have done.

Scrolling down, you find ten photos and two videos that deal with the network of concrete footpaths that we planned at the time of the August post. Concentrated effort now means that the whole network crisscrossing the Chuor Ph’av campus will be finished before Christmas. It is already looking good and the large area under the bicycle shed is almost complete. It has taken many hundreds of bags of cement but the benefit on the muddy monsoonal days will be huge. –         

          Donations and how we spend them

The money needed for the concrete pathways was donated specifically for the pathways.

       Financial contributions are how we survive, they are why all our children have a School to go to. Our children get choices in life BECAUSE of our schools – before us it was sex slavery.

Any dollar amount is precious to us – if you are interested, please look to the left of your screen and in the index you’ll find the Donate Page which will tell you everything you need to know – some people prefer PayPal and others prefer RAWCS {Rotary Australia World Community Service) . A donation from Australia through RAWCS receives an instant tax deduction receipt. Whichever you might choose, we receive the money very quickly in Cambodia – and we have zero administration fees. We pay zero travel, food and accommodation expenses to me or anyone else. All our workers and teachers are Cambodian people living in our villages. I for example receive no money.

We accept EVERY elementary school age child 4 – 14 years of age – currently 1000 children. At age 14 our children transfer to a nearby public High School; that High School wasn’t available to us until recently but the Cambodian Government has built us a road that connects all our feeder villages to the High School.

We are a publicly owned campus of elementary schools as is the Prey t’Baing School – it’s just that without us, they wouldn’t exist – as you can read elsewhere within this website we have the ‘six poorest villages in Cambodia’ feeding our schools.  John




 The second sequence of photos and videos

First, the video below.

Kamau is one of our village girls and has her own section under the heading to the left of your screen entitled ‘Village Children’. As you can find in her biography, she married and has a son, Picadeh; Picadeh has been seriously ill for some months. Picadeh has a tumor – it’s impossible to know more. I think that it (or even they) is in or near his kidneys. There is no blood bank of any sort so the family and I pay for blood and his father, although exhausted, gives blood. I am not asking for money. We have no idea of a prognosis or a plan of any sort. An operation would be more exploratory than anything and high risk. In the video, Picadeh looks good; his family is drained. In the video below he is with his Grandmother (Kamau’s mother), Nat. A hospital bed is free, Any medical visit of any sort, medicine and food costs money. If Picadeh’s treatment or condition changes I will let you know.

The next photo after Picadeh’s video is a reminder that the third School built is a distance away (still in Kamchay Mear District) in the village of Prey t’Baing. We’ve concentrated today on the three Schools in the Chuor Ph’av campus of schools – but next year much of our attention will be on a building project at the Prey t’Baing School.

Prey t’Baing School was originally funded by an Australian Travel Company – Captains Choice (who also built our second school in Chuor Pháv) – and then the town of Antibes completely took over ALL ongoing costs from teachers to books and so after a while we renamed the Prey t’Baing School – Antibes School (France). – things happen and French funding dried up but it is still named ‘Antibes School’.

Antibes School is a beautiful three room school with dedicated progressive teachers. They do their office work on a table on the verandah (lots of photos in posts from earlier months.) Plus they have nowhere to store anything at all. We want to build them an office – a stand alone building similar to the pink office in the Chuor Ph’av (pronounced joo pow) campus. The cost is likely to be around US$11.000. If you can help us to raise even the smallest part of that goal – our teachers particularly will be forever grateful. I f you can help financially then go to the Donate page to the left of your screen, work out what you’d like to do and within your secure donation post from that page, please specify what you want the money spent on. Thank you very much – from John







Christmas Spirit and the third sequence of photos and videos

The video above was taken as soon as I arrived at our Guesthouse on November 22nd. The video has nothing to do with any of our actual progress but it does give you a three minutes and 16 seconds look at our dogs, two of the nearby children and a few moments insight into the way I think about unconditional love.

The fourth and final sequence of twelve photos.

It might seem a bit far fetched to to say that all the students and all the teachers in every classroom seem happy and engaged – but they are. {take a look at the photo just above the Christmas tree video of our children running TO School!}

Some of the photos have embedded notes. These are all brand new photos of classes of children.. I walked easily from class to class. The classes are a joy to witness.

Many of you reading this today contribute financially to what you see here. On behalf of all the children, all the teachers and all the families – thank you so much for giving these children, thousands before them and the thousands to come – a chance.   John.























Plan for concrete paths at Chuor Pháv and an office in Prey t’Baing.

In CategoryJohns blog

Dear friends everywhere – the previous post was just a week ago – but this one is a bit different…. One YouTube clip explaining the need for pathways in Chuor Pháv, a rough plan of the network of paths, seven photos and finishing with two options for a teachers office in Prey t’Baing – at The Antibes School…  Construction of the paths starts next week.

So, the video above explains the need for a network of pathways plus concreting of all areas that flood or get very muddy. Work will commence on August 31 as a School Holiday starts in Cambodia.









The hand drawn plan above shows an entrance way of concrete and the bicycle shed concreted. The central path from top to bottom will be 1.5 metres wide and paths to actual classrooms will be 1 metre wide. Areas around the toilets and the water treatment plant will also be concreted.









Many drafts went into this final plan. The photo above is of John and Zoe going through all the options in the Chuor Pháv Teachers office.









As an example, all the area above where John is standing with Warn will be concreted…..

….All the work both here and next year at Prey t’Baing will be done by Warn…. Warn built our very first ”Rotary Club of Beaudesert” School in 2008… and then, next door to that School, he built the ”Captains Choice” School.









Over the past week, two more sets of outdoor tables and chairs have arrived in Chuor Pháv and two sets in Prey t’Baing, as you will see.







A table and chairs especially for the teachers.








Two sets of tables and chairs for The Antibes School in Prey ‘t’Baing.








The Antibes School does not have an office for the teachers but they do now have a new Printer.








They will however have an office sometime next year. below there are two options for an office …in line to the right of the three room school….







or an ”L” shape effect with the office door opening onto the school verandah.







In both the above options you can see the land to the left of the existing School; this is where any additional School of Classrooms would be built.

One extra but very important piece of news is that the Chuor Pháv complex of Schools will soon get three extra teachers. More news on the Antibes teacher quota soon.

Bye for now, John.






Lots of progress June to August 2019

In CategoryJohns blog

To all friends of our Cambodian Schools and villages – welcome to another report full of photos, lots of little stories and a few more videos this time.

This time for me started as a trip to Wales and England to see my fellow Graduation class of 1969 from Drama School years. We have stayed in touch through the years. Today’s report starts with phone donations – also money donations – from friends and from my nephew in York and sister in York together with a photo of Ros…. Ros, who loves what we do in Cambodia.

If, after you’ve read today’s report and maybe browsed through the hundreds of reports and thousands of photos with their stories – you would like to join us in what we do – with a donation – this is what you do:

  1. Make sure you have opened this website as with an ‘s’ as I have done after the http so ensuring the site is secure.

2) Open the Donate Page which is in the index to your left.

3) The way to donate very securely through Rotary is with the Rotary Australia World Community Service link (RAWCS) which takes you DIRECTLY to our Cambodian Project.

4) If you prefer a different but equally secure method – the PayPal link takes you directly to EducatingCambodia.

There are people who prefer one or the other. Thanks for reading all that – so now on with the report.








These first photos above are of Lis and I in Stephen’s garden in Wales at our Drama School reunion. As you will see a bit later on, Lis’ donated phones are now reset, fixed and for sale in Cambodia and funds there-from will support our Schools.





I am with Ros in this photo. Ros, who has helped our children a lot and continues so to do. Ros knows that she is in the thoughts of all our children and particularly a few children in special need. We were at our Drama School reunion in Late July 2019 in Stephen’s garden in Wales for this photo..

At the same time, and from those Drama School Years, Fanny, David, Ian, and Stephen donated funds. I won’t go into details here, but I will -perhaps in next month’s report.

As I sometimes write – if I miss a donor on the ‘Donor’ Page, I am very sorry, but I can fix it easily.



Below, we find New Eltham (A south London Borough) Post Office. In the United Kingdom, people can own their own Post Office – as do Harish and his wife own this one.   My good friends Phil and Sheila live in New Eltham and have given considerable help to us over all the years. Several times – probably every time I’ve walked into – New Eltham Post Office, Harish has given us a donation.







I have included this next selfie (taken by me) only to show that we really are appreciated NATIONALLY in Cambodia  It is very nice to be welcomed at Phnom Penh International Airport by our good friend Chandai  – Senior Police Officer with National Security  Thankyou Chandai.









Phones that are donated will be reset by Kimheang in our main village – Chuor Pháv Village. He has a shop now – selling anything and everything as you will see. You might recognise phones given very recently in Wales and England by Dean, Barbara, Phil, Liz and Stephen and by Carrie (of My Health… yes the same My Health as our new SCHOOL!…) through her beautiful mother Zoe, who is of course here right now – see today’s photos. The next photo and video are of Kimheang’s shop.

We next visit Prey t’Baing School – a considerable distance from our Chuor Pháv Campus of Schools, but nevertheless, within the geographic and political District of Kamchay Mear in Prey Veng Province.

Still at Prey t’Baing (Antibes) School, we see Zoe and Chanthou sitting outside with Thona using the only place he can find for an office – the verandah.












Next is a section on our ému parades’ or rather on ‘eleven years of trying to deal with litter’. (The video explains it all).




























The last photo (next) in this ému parade’section is of someone many may recognise – Chanthay, who has her very own section in the ‘village children’ section – index to your left. In this photo  you see her with a pepper patch, for a headache.








Below – we find students and their teachers.







In the video above we are invited into the teachers’ office, and in the two photos below, Head Teacher Sok Ken shows Zoe and Chanthou some of the charts.








One of our teachers is a young single man named Soth. Soth bought a piece of land just a few metres from our Schools and has built himself  his very own tiny little house to live in.







You have seen photos of the new outdoor tables and chairs; they are such an obvious success – we have bought some more.

…and after some discussion –

The Guesthouse is one kilometre from the Chuor Pháv campus of schools. The Guesthouse was an instant hit as a drop in centre for dozens of of our neighbouring children and their parents. A lovely photo next of some of the children sitting on our front steps.






We’ll finish today with a video of our Guesthouse taken at twilight. Much more news to come in a few weeks time. John.

The Schools, The Teachers, The Children, a Special Painting and an Engagement – all in June 2019

In CategoryJohns blog

Please enjoy today’s report – June 2019. Browse easily through hundreds of reports and thousands of photos taken over the past eleven years.

Helping us – joining us – is easy to do: Open the Donate page to help financially and check out the Donor Page to see ways to help.

There have been a lot of good things happening. All the Schools, including our brand new School, My Health School, are doing well; we’ve got the same teachers we had the last time I wrote to everyone and now in June it is time to hand over their six month salary supplement as always. Today there are eight YouTube videos and eighteen photos.

‘All of the above’ is reflected in today’s report – PLUS we’ve started to properly look at expansion needs at our Prey t’Baing – Antibes School.

PLUS we have an ‘Engagement’ which is well worth talking about.

WE START TODAY with three videos and four photos from our School in Prey t’Baing School which we now call Antibes School (name explained within one of the videos).

We are paying our three Antibes teachers – Thona Un, Suvat Tun and Chanthoun Boli – we start to seriously consider the need for expansion at this School.



You are now watching a sequence of photos and videos of Soklep and Neat (Soklep’s fiancé) starting just above with photos of Soklep being made up. {Soklep and Soklek are Chanthou’s identical twin girls.}
I had the job of keeping Soklep company until the ceremony – meaning that I had every opportunity to at least try to capture Soklep’s Engagement Day.
I very much like the way it seems she blossomed into a beautiful flower during those few hours. I’ll let those Soklep photos speak for themselves.

I’ll talk briefly about the incredible significance of not only what they are wearing but also touch on the ceremony – this needs some essential HISTORY:
In a nutshell – the walls of Angkor Wat have THOUSANDS of bas relief apsaras – heavenly dancers – each one looking like Soklep.
The Khmer Empire in the year 1400 included most of modern Vietnam , all of Thailand, all of Malaysia and of course all of Cambodia.
The Capital City of The Khmer Empire was Angkor Thom – the chief temple and monastery was Angkor Wat.
In 1400 the population of London was 40,000 – the population of Angkor Thom in 1400 was one million.
Angkor Wat and everything it means is regarded as the SOUL of Cambodia and the Khmer people.
Between 1974 and 1979 The Khmer Rouge systematically killed almost every teacher, Doctor, Nurse, Leader, Writer, Artist, Actor, singer, Dancer and Musician and towards the end, anyone who wore glasses because ‘they can read’. …
…. 40 years later Cambodia is still suffering from the almost complete selective mass murder of Educated people.
To give a comparison, Immediately after World War 2 in 1945, Schools and Universities reopened right around the world. In late 1979 a then medical student friend of mine tried to return to University. There were no teachers, no Doctors – just an empty building.
What you see in these few ancient traditions and clothes during today’s Ceremony is the soul of the people. It exists here in all its spendour…. a remnant … but a vitally important remnant.
The photos and videos, I hope, mostly speak for themselves. One more video in this sequence below.








(Beginning with with the group photo above alongside the photos of The MyHealth Head Teacher and me holding a painting!) -Truly – every day is extra special – today has an extra MAGICAL quality. I know that Amanda and her friends from the Kindergarten of Our Lady of the Sacred Rosary in Brisbane will cry a little today because I certainly am – but happy tears:
It was a very sad day in Brisbane when their precious Kindergarten, after twenty years, was forced to close.
The Kindergarten had just been given a painting as a centerpiece for their Kindergarten.
After the closure I was proudly given the painting to carry to its new home in Cambodia.
It is opportune on many levels. Today our Chuor Ph’av Kindergarten moves from its old home at the other end of the Campus to a room in our new School – My Health School. We put the painting up today. The Kindergarten teacher you can see in the video – her name is Sreyleak. Srey Leak is very good. 









The video above was taken this week at our Guesthouse in Chuor Ph’av village (two kilometres from the Chuor Ph’av Campus of three Schools. In the video you hear that we pay all our teachers twice a year to supplement the Salary from The Cambodian Government.

Below this payment video – we see So Nita with her class
















We’ll finish today with a video explaining precisely what happens when a School roof needs fixing – one of our teachers climbs onto the roof and fixes it! – in this case our teacher Srey Samun…. Head Teacher Sok Ken and Teacher So Nita are looking on.

….and we close with our proud and good students and teachers on Rubbish Collection in Chuor Ph’av … My Health School in the distance.

Love from all our children, all our teachers and all our families – and me, John.

My Health School: The official opening.

In CategoryJohns blog

Dear Friends Everywhere,

This post is a direct continuation from the post below of January 1 2019. Zoe arrived on January 4; Lauren arrived on January 13; Susie and Peter on January 21 and Linda and Mark on the 22nd.

You will see that much of today is very clearly exclusively SCHOOL work with donated money. The My Health School is paid for entirely by Zoe Fields and the School is named after her daughter Carrie Fields’ International Business – ‘My Health’ – you will see later that a great many of Carrie’s My Health Yoga teachers, supporters and practitioners have donated clothes, baby clothes in particular. as you will see as you scroll down being distributed very precisely through our surrounding villages. 

You will see a number of photos and some videos taken at the Guesthouse. No money donated through this website or in any way intended for SCHOOL goes to our Guesthouse. The Guesthouse was and is funded totally separately by a very few individual friends and the Guesthouse is obviously intended to be one day self sustaining – it isn’t yet.

If you look to the contents or index list to the left of your screen –  there is the ‘Donate’ page …there are even lists of things to give you an idea what school things cost.

Within the ‘Donors’ page there are alphabetical lists of Donors (if by any chance you can’t find your name, please tell me – it’s easy to correct.) Both Paypal and RAWCS are secure and fast links within the Donate Page. RAWCS is ‘Rotary International’ and for Australians, Rotarians or not, you are sent an instant tax deductible receipt – PLEASE check it all out. John. 

The ‘My Health School’ opened on January 26 with a  Traditional Khmer Fair and Traditional Live Show into the night. We all left for Phnom Penh on January 27- some for an 8 day holiday in Vietnam, 3 to head back to Australia and me to remain in Phnom Penh to write all this and choose photos while waiting for my daughter Jenny who arrives next week.

This post covers all those happenings and contains 13 of our brand new YouTube videos and 82 new photos. Please enjoy the story – it is remarkable. John.
The video above pans from right to left and shows the Schools as we left them on January 1st – detailed story in the post of January 1 below.

   You will see that throughout today’s post and indeed continuing our ten year tradition village children and their families feel completely at home with our Guesthouse (now 4 years old) and all our visitors. 

In the two photos above, Zoe does Yoga with our neighbouring children. Before today they had never seen or done anything like this before.


All of January was very busy with the fast approaching My Health School opening due on the 26. In These photos (spot the difference) we have a meeting at the Guesthouse with with District Government leaders. As you will see, especially in videos to come as you move through the post, the opening was jam packed with protocol and officialdom. We are genuinely LOVED in Cambodia and EVERYTHING has to be very correct.


We have decided to concentrate exclusively on fruit trees, vegetables and some flowers in our gardens. The problem with pigs and chickens is that however locked up you think they are – they eat everything. So – in the first photo above Chanthou is watering new vegetable plots and in the second, we are improving our kitchen.

The Guesthouse was completed four years ago, and from day one it is quite an all welcoming community centre. (play the video – I knew Playschool would come in useful.)

Zoe teaches “Simon Says.”

We didn’t teach them this; It is a Khmer traditional game, almost identical to “Oranges and Lemons”.

.. didn’t teach them this either. Its Tug o’war without a rope.

and again one of their own traditional games, similar to ‘Ring a ring o’roses’.

Five years ago Peter Greenwell from the Beaudesert Rotary Club bought us a tuk tuk for transporting senior children to High School 45 minutes away. From day one it has been used for transporting children, hospital visits and carrying huge loads of cement, rocks and wood. Over the years the canopy has broken and there are many knocks to the paintwork… BUT as you will see several times today it is a much used and much needed vehicle. we now (very recent) can take our children to a nearer High School after the Government both upgraded our roads between our 12 feeder villages and the nearer High School and changed the Government’s rules to allow us to attend a High School from a different District. (we don’t ‘take’ them – they go on bicycles).
The tuk tuk has five forward gears AND five reverse gears!


Getting nearer the day and flags are needed for the Ceremony (We will keep them after the ceremony) – so off to Phnom Penh again for a lot of shopping. The first photo above is me with my good friend Tun who has been my moto-taxi driver for 12 years. (Our Schools have been open for over ten years.)


Photo one – me counting money. We pay every teacher a ‘salary supplement’ in addition to the Cambodian Government Salary. (without going into detail a Cambodian teacher receives less than 10% of an Australian teacher’s salary. Petrol is the same price in both countries.) photo 2. Look at the second girl from the left on our website banner at the very top of the opening page – her name is Micara; In this photo above, Micara is giving Son Nita, one of our wonderful teachers, a Birthday Present. Photo 3. Just a nice photo: Kimheang, Chanthou’s son, was driving the tuk tuk in reverse earlier – here he is playing with his young cousin.


Susie and Peter arrived at the airport on the 21st while Mark and Linda arrived on the 22nd. Mark and Linda traveled with Melvin, Beaudesert Rotary Club’s Swiss Rotary Exchange Student. Lauren (below) arrived on the 13th. You’ll see a lot of everyone from here on in.

For western food and ingredients there isn’t a shop within two hours drive of our Schools – so this is us shopping at one of Cambodia’s two big supermarkets.

In (under) the Guesthouse – beers, wine and food. On the immediate right we see, Soth (Sot) great teacher – behind Soth there is Kimheang who you’ve seen twice before (above).


At the Schools’ entrance and met by Sok Ken our overall Head Teacher.

My Health School. The My Health Sign and Logo. To the right we see the logo again and to the left we see the Rotary International Logo. For this photo I (in orange!!) am joined by a small group of our students who had rushed over for this photo – and indeed every photo we’ve ever taken is an historic photo!

Zoe under the care of the My Health School sign.

It’s good that this plan is working; building a bike shed has freed up so much school land for play and walking. Before today bicycles were simply left anywhere and everywhere.


This is one day before the opening ceremony. We had our tuk tuk and a tuk tuk that brought our village garment factor workers from Phnom Penh who wanted to be at the Opening. Education is vital for Cambodia’s future.


Lots of photos now of our tuk tuk and all of we Australians together with Chanthou traveling through the villages giving out carefully and lovingly donated teddy bears, baby clothes, blankets, and children’s clothes. children were chosen specifically as were our poorest of the very poor.


Some children and entire families came to The Guesthouse to receive the donated things, but we made sure that our tuk tuk missed no one. Yes that is a Beaudesert Primary dress and Kooralbyn teddy bears.


Most of our village adults are small so these Australian Primary School hats and even pre-school hats fit our mums, dads and elderly in the Cambodian villages.


on through the villages; very slowly and carefully; miss no one.


A photo to be framed Peter.


Melvin our Rotary Exchange student was just about speechless at the poverty.


Now…. these three photos above are of a close friend of mine and Chanthou and Zoe. The woman is Sralep and she has, in the past, come to the Guesthouse often but not now.. In the recent past I would give her food to clean floors – but no more – not until I can do something seemingly too difficult. Sralep aged 35 very clearly has Paranoid Schizophrenia with completely unpredictable delusions. She is a serious danger to others but particularly to children. She is not a danger to herself. In the west she could be treated with tablets and possibly say monthly injections with considerable success. Very sadly, if she were to commit any violent crime here in our villages she would go to a VERY inappropriate jail – forever. Instead the village keeps her at her mother’s home in a little room out the back. Her chain means she can walk to her own toilet.

In these photos she is greeting Zoe for the second time (first time was February last year) .. Of course this is sad but we are thinking, thinking… as yet, there is nothing better than this for Sralep. The Cambodian Government is doing its best with no resources. She is in her village where she is loved.


Donated Beaudesert Cricket Club shirts – in the last photo above we see, Warn at the front, the builder of our first two schools. In the middle we see Kimheang again and Soth, one of our teachers at the back – all sitting under the Guesthouse.


The tuk tuk again gets us to School. Me in orange, Zoe in red. Zoe greeting Sok Ken the overall Head Teacher.

You’ll see in the next two videos that together with 1000 exercise books and 1000 pens, and presents for the elderly and the monks who live next door Susie and Peter are donating two laptops; in the photo above, Peter in the School Office cum Clinic is  showing the teachers the computers.

The first of two videos immediately prior to the opening.


It is all explained in the two short videos above. Immediately above you see Mark and Linda (Lauren, Susie and peter are behind them) with Sreymun one of the teachers… Children sitting waiting for things to begin.


Several marquees housed us all, possibly 60 Provincial (State) officials, hundreds of family members and ALL the children. The officials said 1500 children but in fact we have now about 1100 children because we lost 250 of our oldest children to the High School which we not only now have permission to attend but The Government has widened and improved the road so that we CAN get to High School on bicycles.
This is the main stage. I was sat at the front with the Prey Veng Province Premier (a Province is the equivalent of a State in Australia.


For some time I’ve been saying we are building towards an Official opening. Believe me, this ceremony took the first prize for OFFICIAL.

Through the Premier of Prey Veng, King Sihamouni awarded and presented Gold medals to Zoe, to Linda and to Chanthou…. Certificates too. We all feel very honoured. Thank you King Sihamouni.


In the new classrooms now, Zoe writes in the visitors book of My Health School.


The Premier writes and then me, John

All the officials and Beaudesert Rotarians and Zoe (Zoe took this photo).

There are many significant parts of the day not included in this post, now. Zoe and I were big players in the day so our photo taking chances were few!….. However, Melvin, our Swiss Rotary Exchange Student took a great many photos and videos. It will be some weeks before I see Melvin’s photos and videos but when I do see them we’ll certainly select such things as speeches and ribbon cutting if not all of it and post – here.

Two “LUCKY” fig trees were planted neear the My Health School.
Pack up time and then walk right outside for the traditional Fair.


Around 5000 local villagers enjoyed the Fair and at 8pm we all watched a live show by a big group who in Medieval times would have been called strolling players. They performed from the deck of an opened-out truck – BRILLIANT.
A lot like – say an English Pantomime – referencing local events and identities with a mix of comedy, song and dance. The audience is free to come and go, eat, drink and talk – very Shakespearean really – or maybe Chaucerean!

The next day, January 27 I traveled with all the visitors to Phnom Penh. In the photo above I am sitting at a cafe with Melvin and Lauren. On the 28th Linda, Chanthou, Zoe, Susie and Peter left by boat for an eight day holiday in Vietnam. Melvin and I went to S21, the main Khmer Rouge torture centre and later in the day, Lauren joined us to browse the markets.

There are many posts from the past ten years about S21 and The killing Fields. There were over 190 torture centres around Cambodia. From these centres the prisoners were taken to one of 12 Killing Fields spaced around the country. When the Vietnamese finally invaded in 1979 they found just 11 people still alive – 7 of those survivors have since died and during our visit, Melvin and I personally met 3 of the 4 remaining – they work at this nightmare of a museum where they were once tortured prisoners. The photo above is a direct translation of the Prison Rules. Melvin bought a book from one of the survivors who had written the book himself. A special book.

I stayed in Phnom Penh to put this post together and wit for my daughters arrival in a few more days. (Jenny and I will explore, Phnom Penh and then to our Schools and on to Angkor Wat – she hasn’t been here before.)

Meanwhile Chanthou, Zoe, Linda, Susie and Peter are having a great holiday in Vietnam; this is Saigon.

There will be more photos from Melvin. That will mean either a ‘Part 2’ or an edit to this post.

I hope you have enjoyed this, the Opening of “My Health School”.