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

In CategoryJohns blog
Byadmin

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
Byadmin

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 https://www.educatingcambodia.com 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
Byadmin

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.

WHY ARE THESE CLOTHES AND TRADITIONS SO VERY IMPORTANT IN 2019?
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
Byadmin

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”.

John.

Happy New Year 2019

In CategoryJohns blog
Byadmin

Happy New Year from our Schools in the Kamchay Mear District of PreyVeng Province in Cambodia. If you scroll down to the Christmas Day post you’ll find that we had just started to build a bike shed – and that is where we start today.

There are usually hundreds of happy children in our School photos, but for cleaning, painting and building most of the work is done either before the children arrive at School at 6.45am or on Saturday afternoons and Sundays – plus this week we had two student free days and all the teachers were present to paint! – they ASKED to do it!

     

In the last photo above you see the Builder – Prey Katha – being paid (by me)for building the Bike Sheds; they are 20mx5m and will do a perfect job of freeing up most of our land for walking, playing and gardens; you’ll see later today that Sok Ken our Head Teacher has already started a garden!

 

This WAS The Red Clinic cum teachers’ office….. So now it’s the Bright Pink Clinic cum Office. All the teachers helped – you’ll see six of them a bit later on.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

These are the three Schools (plus the Pre-School shown later) of the Chuor Ph’av campus of Schools – together with 1000 children across two shifts every day. To the immediate right is The Captains Choice School and beyond that is our original School, The Rotary School of Beaudesert. Facing us is our brand new School – “My Health School”. The Official opening of “My Health School” is on January 26 and we are all very much looking forward to that day – with a HUGE traditional Fair into the night. I like the flags – more to come.

BUT, you are right, we have FOUR Schools plus the Pre-school. The Prey t’Baing School, named The Antibes School is a 45 minute drive away and they are often featured and will be again VERY soon.

Both of the photos above are of course of the ‘My Health School’. I’ve included the first of the two simply to show just how subtly the fact that we had to be given three metres of land by the Temple next door has seemlessly acquired a bend in the wall between the two properties. In fact all the land is owned by The Government. We are a Government School – funded and cared for by all the Donors and helpers. Before WE arrived there was NO school. WE work well with The Government and they like us – BECAUSE BECAUSE BECAUSE we ALL love the thousands of children we have already had through our schools …. and will have through our schools….. and their families.

The second photo shows six of our teachers who came in specially when the School was in fact closed. If you scroll down to Christmas Day you’ll see the same six teachers with a group of children who volunteered to come in for a photo needed by the Federal Government in preparation for a special ceremony on the 26th .. (you’ll just have to wait).

 

We see the teacher Ren Soth and Head Teacher, Sok Ken, outside the freshly painted Pink…. Bright Pink Office.

 

  

We see the buildings and grounds being maintained and improved especially (!!) with January 26 in mind! Think back to the bike sheds …. with hundreds bicycles left outside classrooms there was no free space for walking, let alone gardens and PLAY. The first photo shows a garden bed that Sok Ken has built, The second photo shows just a fraction of the cleaning that is happening. For the sake of ventilation there are no ceilings in our Schools and the underside of roof tiles need cleaning. Third and fourth photos show The Captains Choice School and The Rotary School of Beaudesert side by side; we also see them from the brand new verandah of My Health School.

Above, we see two photos showing the line of Buildings from right to left – the Pre-School (Chez Hilary) which was intended to be teachers’ accommodation but was only every needed once! Now it is the ideal home of the Pre-School; then the Pink Office cum Clinic; then the water treatment station for ground water (we have rain water from the roof of course. We then see The Captains Choice School, then the Rotary School of Beaudesert and across the far end – My Health School ….  and when I showed these photos to two people before uploading to here, all they said was ” What an amazing sky”!

This is what you see in the video below – a 32 second pan from right to left.

Enjoy the 32 second sweep from right to left.

We finish today with Breakfast Srok Khmer (rural Cambodia) style. This is under the Guesthouse – on the right we see Chanthou and in the centre is Chanthou’s 83 year old mother and on the left, Mother’s young friend, the 70 year old Om.

70 is ‘old’ in rural Cambodia and 83 is very rare indeed.

We’ll see some of you HERE before and for the ‘opening’ and Fair on the 26th and then, after the 26th, I’ll try to make the report on the day as ‘alive’ as I can!

Happy New Year to you from our children, our teachers and our families…. John.

 

 

Merry Christmas 2018. Almost ready for the Official Opening of ‘My Health School’ on January 26 2019.

In CategoryJohns blog
Byadmin

Merry Christmas from our villages and Schools in the Kamchay Mear District of the Province of Prey Veng in Cambodia.

My Health School was shown and written about in last month’s post (scroll down to November for those photos and notes). The building is now complete and the Official Opening will be on January 26 2019. A lot of people will be present – the children, their teachers and families together with people from the four levels of Cambodian Government, Local, District, Provincial and National. Also present will be representatives of The Rotary Club of Beaudesert…. and most importantly, this time, we will be delighted to welcome back our Donor of My Health School, Zoe Fields, who will in turn be representing Carrie Fields the owner of the International Company “My Health.” Carrie is Zoe’s daughter. In practice, Zoe wont need welcoming back because she belongs.

This post includes photos and notes on much needed desks and paint…. and more. Please enjoy. John.


It is remarkable what a coat of paint will do! Many of you are used to photos of our wonderful School Buildings… and NOW, they’re like new! The Bike Shed referred to in the video and elsewhere in this post starts construction later today and will be 20 metres x 5 metres. (two bike shed photos edited in at the end of today’s post)

Christmas is not recognised in Cambodia; Schools are open, bike sheds are built.

I have said many times over the years, we don’t have Christmas here – but that’s like saying, we don’t have miracles here. This is all a miracle. I have long since stopped worrying when I KNOW that we need something… eventually it happens with a lot of people involved – Confidence, Tenacity, Certainty, Focus, Human Love, Compassion and Effort combined with more Love, Wisdom and more Effort and we are, I understand  the largest- in child numbers – School Charity complex in South East Asia.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We now go back one month and work through the photos towards the present.

 

 

 

 

 

“My Health School” was built by (as always) by local builders. It is very important to understand that we import NOTHING. All labour, all teachers, all payments are LOCAL. The money arrives in Cambodia and stays in Cambodia. These photos are planning photos with Chanthou, Chhai, one of our builders, me and Sok Ken, the Head Teacher. We are making the completion and final payment to the Builders.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Next – Electricity!

We paid for the Electrity connection, cables, wiring and sockets in all the Chuor Ph’av Schools. At the same time, one kilometre away we now have mains electricity in our Guesthouse.

The connection comes into us through the Pre-School Building (known previously as the teachers accommodation and still known and signed as Chez Hilary (from France).

and into the Teachers Office cum Clinic.

This is the entrance to our Chuor Ph’av Schools and Our Guesthouse is just over a kilometre away and our twelve villages radiate from this point – so – I now have a very robust mud and dust bicycle.

 

    

The sign photos above: We used a tiny, squalid, efficient, inexpensive workshop in Phnom Penh to make the signs for My Health School and then we had to get them home to their School. They arrived relieved and safe.

Lots of meetings. This is in a roadside cafe in Kamchay Mear, our District Town. We had just had an inter governmental planning meeting for The Official Opening: – invitees, acknowledgements and several AWARDS planned, gifts for children, the elderly, the temple (our neighbour and co-tenant on Government land. – and a huge traditional Fair to plan for into the night. In the photo Chanthou is sitting with our two Commune leaders (several villages in a Commune and several Communes in a District – several Districts in a Province – in our case, Prey Veng Province.)

      

Always – our desks are made in Cambodia – we need a lot of desks for our new School. Our children are all under the age of fourteen so three children can comfortably sit at one of these desks.

  

The above three photos are some of my all time favourites. – The Children welcoming with love and awe, something as special as a School Desk. You’ll see one of these photos again a few photos down.

Our Children can start in Pre-School at age four and leave for High School in Prey Cherean village at age fourteen.Until very recently we were keeping children up to age sixteen because they were not allowed to go to Prey Cherean as that village was in a different District (although only 30 minutes away on a bicycle with a new, much better local road – dirt but good). Older children were travelling to Kamchay Mear Town in Peter Greenwell’s tuk tuk and even that was a 45 minute journey …. so; the above photo is of Bit and her friend on their first day going to our local High School. WHO IS BIT? Look at the banner of childrens’ faces at the top of this website. Bit is on the left hand end. We have known Bit since the beginning – and YES, Bit is fourteen years old. (Remember we already have two Graduate nurses from our first years – They were both sixteen years old when they started with us – with zero language or arithmetical skills. They worked very hard!

Our Guesthouse continues to be very much of a village hub and this toddler is enjoying our pretty lights.

  

I took the above three photos of food in the teachers office at our Schools.  tasty bean paste embedded in rice and wrapped in a banana leaf and cooked over a fire – yummy (in Khmer, yummy is Chnang na.)

 

I’ve slipped in the two photos above of food because this food is delicious too. One of my favourite cafes in Phnom Penh is called Vibe – it is a vegan cafe close to the Russian Market. Staff and food are good… I’ll take visitors there on a day we visit the Russian Market.

It’s true.

The above photo isn’t a good photo but it IS a special photo. The King of Cambodia, King Sihamouni, will probably be giving some important medals in relation to the work we do. (not me – but to very significant helpers) And so this photo, framed, was taken to Phnom Penh for the National Government to see the new building, a group of students and six of our teachers.

… and another group photo.

   

Time to clean the outside of every building – children, teachers and families all involved. The new desks in this photo are being spayed with stain and varnish by teachers Ren Soth on the left and Srey Samun. In later photos you see many people, both parents and children involved.

 

In the School Office with two great kind and skilled teachers and the sign  – ready.

  

It’s all explained in the videos below. Our teacher Ren Soth has organised and trains a junior football team (soccer) – Girls are starting too… The pitch? field? paddock? – behind My Health School! Please check out the two videos.

Look at the Soccer uniforms in the photos above. Girls are starting too. Brilliant Soth (Ren Soth) for organising this.

                   

Painting painting painting – all leading to the video that is at the beginning (scroll up) of this our Merry Christmas Post. Check out the children with the paint rollers – they were having a wonderful time.

 

We close today with these photos of the combined main entrance to our Chuor Ph’av Schools complex and the Temple and Wat – monastery. The first is on entering and the second photo – leaving.

The very latest work NOW two photos edited in below:

 

The Bicycle Shed is taking shape TODAY.

We wish you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. Me? I shall continue to wander, slowly, through the villages singing Jingle Bells with tribes of children. Wish you were here… but starting with Zoe on January 4 and Lauren on the 13th… then Susie and Peter on the 22nd and Linda and Mark on the 23rd – some of you will be. Hooray….. John.

 

 

 

November 03 2018 -So much to share with you. Very new things. Faster and clearer but nothing is lost.

In CategoryJohns blog
Byadmin

All The News – FOUR MONTHS of News.

If you scroll back down to July 2nd you will see that the Contracts were signed for MyHealth School, the UNICEF play equipment was being moved, the ground was being prepared and the first deliveries of sand and gravel were arriving.

Sadly soon after July 2nd the website became impossible to add to or edit.

(There is still a way to go with the way I can arrange photos and text with the new site BUT it is working!!)

In 2011 the amazing Otago Polytechnic in Dunedin not only created our website but offered to HOST us until we found a permanent home. The Polytech was never meant to be the website’s forever base but they generously put up with us for more than SEVEN YEARS …. Not seven weeks – seven YEARS. AND WE WERE GROWING! … and everything was (and is) blooming.

I am very grateful to Otago Polytechnic’s School of Enterprise and Development and its Head, Lesley, for so kindly hosting us for so very long.

After incredibly efficient and warm cooperation between Rob the Systems Administrator of the Polytech’ School in Dunedin and Galen, the Technical Director of  The VO Group based in both Australia and NewZealand  – and working on behalf of Carrie of MyHealth…

So …..… we NOW HAVE A NEW HOST- ‘MyHealth’ with Galen, Technical Director of ‘VO’ and working for Carrie of ‘MyHealth’ giving me fast advice. (There is now potential to change A LOT if we want to or need to, but that is for the future.) The site hosting and needed work is very generously donated by MyHealth.

To Professor Sam of Otago Polytech and to Rachel, our own dedicated Polytech third Year Information Technology student of seven years ago – EducatingCambodia is forever grateful. What’s more you will be delighted (I hope) to find that after adding seven years of WordPress upgrades, the site APPEARS almost unaltered. Every photo is still there – every word is still there… your layout, Rachel and Sam – everything.

THIS website is SECURE in every way.

Pages and photos download a lot faster and it all – photos and text – appears clearer than ever.

We’ve made two immediate changes:

  1. Reverting to the original plan – the site one again opens directly onto the latest BLOG (post)
  2. If you scroll down and down and down you will find every post since the beginning in sequence since June 2011.
  3. To the left of your screen at the bottom of the Contents list there is now a ‘drop down box’ named ‘Archive’. You target any particular month or year using ‘Archive’ … Archive is specific and doesn’t ‘scroll to previous or following posts.
  4. The Mission Statement is now in ‘About’ at the top of the Contents list and includes ‘How to Donate”
  5. ‘How to Donate’ is repeated in ‘Donate’ –  in the Contents list. The Donors Page is up to date and as ever, the various ‘Pages’ are added to from time to time.

 

If you have seen our site before or over many months or years you will know that we tell the story with photos and notes of, say, the previous MONTH. It’s been a full FOUR months and we could easily add 200 photos but we’ve kept it right down to the essential story.

 

So, just as a reminder, in July 2018, we left the new School – ‘MyHealth’ at the Contract signing stage with some very early ground preparation happening.

Our story restarts in mid July 2018….

“MyHealth School” will have its Official and Grand public opening on January 26th 2019 with Members of Beaudesert Rotary Club, Carrie and friends from My Health, Zoe (who our villages have adopted), all levels of Cambodian Government, School families and children  – all present not just for the Grand Opening but for the enormous Fair to follow – you haven’t seen a FAIR until you’ve been part of a Cambodian village Fair.

‘MyHealth School’ will be the way we display the School sign together with the My Health Logo.

This is how we got from July 2nd 2018 to today:

                                                       

 

 

 

 

 

As with our first three Schools, it is all hand made – from the hand dug foundations to the steel reinforcement ‘skeletons’ to all the  hand filled beams and columns, the floor and later, the desks themselves – all hand made within our villages.

We pay no one at all in our villages except our village builders and our Cambodian teachers. We don’t employ secretarial or admin staff or ANY foreigners. I receive no remuneration and nor does any other non Cambodian person.  Our local builders employ locals to build our Schools – so giving EVERYONE HERE a real, genuine  sense of ownership.                                                                     
As the new School progresses vehicles bring in everything from Steel rods (interestingly it’s Australian iron ore made into steel and then reinforcing rods in Japan)  to sand and bricks. The Peter Greenwell tuk tuk comes into its own – ferrying helpers, children and cement – all along side its first function – getting children to School. In the photo, the teacher, Ren, is passing the Pre-School and Office.

Below we see Sok Ken, our Head Teacher with the partly built MyHealth School in the distance.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Above:- the view from the verandah of The Rotary School of Beaudesert.

The entire building, inside and out is expertly and beautifully cement rendered.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Steel framed roof ready for the terracotta tiles.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           I love the blackboards. The whole wall is finely cement rendered (plastered with cement). A large rectangle is painted with special black paint and then framed in wood – BRILLIANT. The concrete dais is for the teacher.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             At this stage, Chanthou traveled to Australia with me for a seven week visit to Beaudesert Rotary and Magnetic Island Rotary. We first traveled way up north for Magnetic Island and then with Zoe from her Island – the 1400klm south to Beaudesert. As you see from the poster, a VERY special Cambodian Evening was planned. It was a truly inspiring night with 100 people listening to talks, hearing Chanthou and Lauren sing, a Khmer feast and a slide show from our villages and meeting lots of old and new friends.

 

Zoe, John, (Linda pretending she’s not there), and Chanthou.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     Hundreds of of our village children have been given teddy bears over the years….

This is Chanthou with the amazing couple who make and have made most of our teddy bears! (more to come THIS month)

The stage with our slide show. This was held at the Anglican Church Hall in Beaudesert.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  A few days later the Beaudesert Times printed this article – it is also on Beaudesert Times online.                                                                                                                                                                                                    ….. and meanwhile back at the MyHealth School Building site ……

…. the terracotta tiles arrive … and WOW!!

                                                                                                                            The terracotta tiles start arriving. (and the floor is done) The tiles, just like all our bricks are made locally right on the bank of The Mighty Mekong River. (There is a posting with photos of Mekong Brick Works deep in the depths of our ‘archives.’ )                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             One of our very hard working teachers – Ren – on the MyHealth School Verandah. The original Beaudesert Rotary School running at right angles in the background.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             Ren with two visiting monks. In these photos today the School Building is almost complete. Doors have to be made and fitted and also SHUTTERS for all the windows. Note there is NO GLASS in any of our schools. There is some of our reinforcing steel running vertically through each window frame and we are making hinged shutters.  The walls and floor are all reinforced with steel.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               I think that this is a thing of great beauty. It will be a working School – MyHealth School probably by December – with the Official Opening and Fair on Australia Day – January 26th 2019.

Carrie, Zoe and friends will be there; Beaudesert Rotary Club will be there; I will be there; Chanthou will be there. All our village families will be there.

       Love to everyone from John and also on behalf of Carrie of My Health.                       

So much good news. A New School – Starting TODAY this will be very good year. “My Health School” – the contract is signed and building materials are already arriving.

In CategoryJohns blog
Byadmin

 

It has been almost two months since our last newsletter – Blog post to you. I trust that you will find today’s news worth the wait and apparent silence..

(There are a lot of names and information today; if I have got ANY of it wrong eg. you’d prefer different words or indeed, spelling (?) then please email me on john@educatingcambodia.com and I can and will immediately make the corrections.)

A lot of confidential talks, meetings, more meetings, but mostly talks, some over coffee, some in Cambodia and many on Magnetic Island Australia and to and fro with the Gold Coast of Australia.

Other things have happened day by day and week by week, but the absolute need for these three extra classrooms has meant that I (John) have kept EVERYTHING quiet until TODAY.

We paid all our teachers on June 1o and gave a Classroom Globe, as you will see below – way below – to every room INCLUDING the three yet to be built. You will also see that we used three Globes to choose approximate placement of the new three room School. So people donated to pay the teachers and others donated money for the Globes – all will be revealed below.

But I think it is reasonable to start with the new School.

My Health School

Zoe Anne Fields my good friend from years ago in Beaudesert, South East Queensland now lives on Magnetic Island 1400 kilometres to the north of Beaudesert (but still in the State of Queensland.) and a magically magnetic 20 minute ferry journey from Townsville.

The March and May newsletters (index to the left of your screen very much feature Zoe, first with Mark, Linda, Corrinne and Jon from Beaudesert and in May on Magnetic Island – photos at The Rotary Club of Magnetic Island meeting are below today’s ‘new school’ photos.

Zoe is funding the NEW SCHOOL and naming it after her daughter’s Company. So – Carrie Anne Fields runs My Health Yoga – but Yoga is only part of her internationally renowned philosophy.

To date Carrie has trained over 2000 Yoga Teachers.

Our new school in Chuor Ph’av will be named “My Health School.”. We are not expanding as such, we are addressing unacceptable overcrowding. I am not sure today whether the classrooms will be general classrooms or specialist classrooms eg maths excellence etc. Our children are ‘streamed’ at times but that philosophy is led by our teachers.

The following link is to Carrie’s beautiful and inspiring website. (a stunning photo of Carrie is on the cover)

http://www.myhealthyoga.com

We are very very proud to be associated with Carrie. (I was going to write ‘with Carrie and Zoe’ But very wonderfully Zoe is already spiritually right alongside us in our villages – and joined by Carrie.

We will start with a video of the contract signing in which several things are explained:-

 

Now lets break this down with photos, taken by many different people; some by me, others by the teachers, Ren and So Nita and several by Chanthou.

The photos are not really in much of an order but finish with the initial payment of US$10,800 and then with some site clearing and the very first deliveries of sand, gravel and bricks.

The last two photos before the land preparation photos and first material arrivals are of a meeting back at The Guesthouse with The District Leaders, the village leader and the Builders to double-check that all parties know what is about to happen. WE have done this three times before but Chai and Phai are new builders for us so we had already translated everything very carefully and in this more private meeting, everyone leaves happy.

I’ll add notes through the photos.

 

My Health School will face the camera and be where the slide and swings now are – the school will extend into neighbouring temple owned land, by the white wall. (see an allied note by a photo of a monk).

Three of our teachers watch as teachers Ren and So Nita check the fine details of the Contract  – for me! Then Phai our main builder talks through the contract with Ren.

Ren and So Nita check the Khmer Contract for me!

 

Chai and Phai. Phai cannot read or write so he relies on us and his colleague Chai. Money is counted while I take photos and make sure I understand exactly what is transpiring.

 Chanthou is covering all bases – money and contract. Heng from The District Education Office is very much working alongside Chanthou. Later, as you will see, he is not entirely happy that our Builders understand their responsibility so he and his colleague take them back to the Guesthouse for calm and kind explanations – two photos later.

 

There’s a lot in these photos. The Globes are my personal bit of Drama – they represent what we are doing and in a while become very useful in precisely locating the three classroom school. The Head monk (abbott in English) has become over all these years a good friend of mine and he, with Government approval, has donated all the land that we will need to place the new school a sensible distance from the line of buildings on the right. The Head Teacher, Sok Ken is the lady smiling close to camera.

In the photo to the right you see Mom, The head of The District. In a white shirt is Wai, the Village leader of the village immediately to the east of the school. The main Chuor Ph’av village is immediately to the south and that is where our Guesthouse is. Chuor village leader is in a photo below; I’ll point him out when we get there.

  

Knowing that my friend the Abbott (in orange – obviously -) was saying we could have as much land as we needed, we experimented by moving our three symbolic class room globes ( more about globes in later photos) until eventually we were over that small wall and onto Temple land. That small parcel of land will become School land. It is in fact important to recognise that bothe temple and all the schools are on Government land. Our Schools are Government Schools running by a 100% Cambodian Government curriculum and the temple and Monastery (Wat) is ‘Buddhist Association of Cambodia’ also on Government land. The bottom line is that WE are 100% secure since we are Government Schools on Government Land. “They need us to be able to help them and we need them to be able to help them” John.

 

I the photos above: contracts in Cambodia need a thumb print. Chai the builder. Sok Ken the Head Teacher and Chanthou on behalf of me and Zoe.

Then we literally place the first payment of US$10,800 into the hands of Chai (Representing Chai and Phai. In this photo everyone is represented. District Government. Local Government, The Head Teacher of all our Schools and Chanthou representing Zoe.

 

AFTER the signing, Heng on the left and Mom, both from District Government with Chen at the end of the table. Chen is our Chuor Ph’av village Leader with Chai facing Heng. They are helping, again, Chai (builder) understand the process. All questions and extra .. extra questions were again answered.

The fence/wall between the School land and Temple land was taken down because we need to use the offer by the Temple of some land.

 

The see-saw, slide (or if you are Australian – ‘slippery dip’ -) and swings were carefully dug out for later relocation somewhere to right – they need considerable restoration anyway. The play equipment was originally donated by UNICEF.

There are many great photos from this spot and photos of the schools up to today have usually been taken through these swings.

  

And as by magic things start to arrive, sand from The Mekong and volcanic blue stone for concrete.

  

Bricks, the same as roof tiles here are a strong and attractive terracotta made from Mekong clay and rice straw.

 

Hard hard labour. Everything is done by hand – digging for footings and foundations.

I will continue to take photos and watch over everything as building continues. Exciting – very exciting times ahead in the lives of many with the “My Health School” thanks to Zoe and her daughter Carrie with much love.

       

Zoe visited our schools and villages… and Phnom Penh…and Angkor Wat and Siem Riep …. and Koh Kong as you might recall from the March newsletter (index left of screen) and in the May newsletter I talk of my visit to Zoe’s home on Magnetic Island. (A gloriously pretty place).. While I was there, we planned and talked and planned some more and the result is ‘My Health School’. While I was there we attended a meeting of The Rotary Club of Magnetic Island. It was a lovely evening. The hosts for the night cooked magnificent food – our hosts were Club President Rod and his wife Paula (they run a Magnetic Island holiday company). The local Ambulance Officer talked through the difficulties and issues of accidents on this Island…. and we all had a go at snake bite strapping and resuscitation. You can see Zoe getting her arm strapped in one of the photos. I gave a talk about our Cambodian Schools and the President very movingly (well I was almost in tears – it really was a very welcoming night). Club President Rod presented me with a Club cheque for AUD$200 for our Schools.

Magnetic Island – I WILL be back.

 

On June 10 2018 all 14 teachers were paid. The Cambodian Government pays all our teachers and partly because we are so very remote, we pay them a salary supplement.The first and second photos are under The Geusthouse with seven teachers and Chanthou. The other five Chuor Ph’av teachers were in Prey Veng town at ‘in-service’ education. In the second photo, Sok Ken the Head teacher accepts money for those other five teachers. (see below for the three Prey t’Baing Antibes School Teachers.)

The eleven teachers at Chuor Ph’av are paid US$180 each every six months by us – and that money until now has been donated by The Rotary Club of Beaudesert. We are moving now to individual people, from ANYWHERE, taking on teachers’ salaries. If YOU think you could take that one -say one teacher – or more – for US$180 ready for the December 10 payday (its June 10 and December 10 each year.) then please, find the RAWCS – Rotary Australia World Community Service – link within the DONATE page in the index – it easy to do and is tax deductible in Australia. Thank YouJohn (we come to the other three teachers in a moment)

This is within the Head teachers office and staffroom at Chuor Ph’av.  A Few years ago a Beaudesert Rotarian named Doug Lavers McBain paid for a Classroom Globe. As any teacher or indeed any parent knows, a Globe is not just a special tactile thing to have, it is an AMAZING teaching aid. Doug gave me money for some more; this was added to by David Jones and Susie Gaardsted. I had enough money for one for every classroom including the three yet to be built. Thank you everyone.

 

And f you’ve been paying attention, you’ll know precisely what these two photos are all about!.

At the School at Prey t’Baing – known as Antibes School the three teachers were paid on June 10 by Chanthou – and we presented them with their very special three Classroom Globes. The three teachers at Antibes School have for some years now been paid with donations directly from Peter Greenwell of The Rotary Club of Beaudesert.

Enough for today – exciting times ahead – love to everyone from John and all the children and their families and their teachers here in the Kamchay Mear District of Prey Veng Province in Cambodia..

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

May 2018 – Planning – in particular the next few months.

In CategoryJohns blog
Byadmin

I’m writing today’s notes over the first few days of May 2018.

Right now, by far our greatest needs are around building maintenance. After we pay our 14 teachers in early June I am happy to say that we have the money needed for all our urgent maintenance needs.

As I have said several times over the past two years our next greatest need is and will be another three room school building (we call each one a school because they are a) detached from each other and b) each one has been separately funded and ‘named’ accordingly)  :-

..we are now very close to finalising the funding and our building requirements for our fourth ‘school’. The NEW School will be identical to and opposite the existing tw0 – in our main village (lots of school photos throughout this site). As you may know we operate with up to 100 children – per room – in the early shift from 7am and a DIFFERENT 100 children in the late shift from 1pm. Much more as the plans unfold and building starts over the next few months.

If you look back at the last posting on March 8 you’ll see that the preceding few months were happily very busy with a huge number of photos and their notes. You will find today – some of peoples favourites from that post together with a few that no one has seen from the same period – but we start with some new photos with their notes.

 

I arrived back in Australia in March and immediately we were given an opportunity to put on a display at ‘The Centre’ – in Beaudesert town. In the first photo the current Beaudesert Rotary Club President – Susan Page – is sitting with me. The second photo is perhaps particularly special; on the left is next year’s (starting July 1st) President, Lesley Turton, then Arthur McDonald, the only surviving Foundation member of Beaudesert Rotary Club – 62 years ago! – and Susan Page, President.

In the photo above, taken at one of the weekly Rotary meetings, we see Lesley – Club President after June 30 2018 and Mark Jackson who is very well known in our Cambodian villages – Mark has been, along with Linda, eight times to Cambodia. – more of Mark and Linda Jackson in photos below – and indeed, throughout this website.

 

I’ve spent a very enjoyable five mornings every week since mid March helping the incredible Keith Reinke sell Rotary raffle tickets in aid of all the Club projects. I challenge anyone anywhere to find a more successful raffle ticket salesman than Keith. In the second photo, Brian Yarrow dropped by for a chat. Brian was our Club President in the Rotary Year 2008-09 and is forever listed as one of our earliest and biggest Educating Cambodia Donors. There is a list of Gold Donors within the Donors Page to the left of your screen – ‘Gold’ means $500 or more.

 

A lovely picture I think of Keith and me and then of a raffle draw of Easter eggs donated by Woolworths Beaudesert. Carissa, the Shop Manager is drawing the raffle.. A HUGE ‘thank you’ to Woolworths. Woolworths also donated time, staff and food for a BBQ for Keith who separately raised money for the Leakaemia Foundation – Keith really is quite remarkable.

  

  

Above, we have six of the most popular photos from the past weeks – four of them from the March post and various emails and Facebook and two that see this website for the first time.

  

A selfie of our teacher, Sonita, that she sent to me a short time ago and next – one of our always smiling ‘Antibes School’ teachers. Antibes School is in the village of Prey t’Baing (within our Government District but a 60 minute drive through tracks from our other schools in Chuor Ph’av.)

This smile is there for just about ALL of the time. A wonderful teacher too.

       

From whatever angle and whether wide shots or close up photographs, our Childrens’ enthusiasm and determination is always apparent, as it is with ALL our teachers.. Browse the website, you wont find a bored child anywhere!

Another wee photo you haven’t seen before. Mark and Zoe in the Computer Shop in Prey Veng Town, buying a printer for Chuor Ph’av School, with their own money.

 

The two photos above bring us to right now – in Townsville, North Queensland. You have seen a lot of photos of the unstoppable Zoe in Cambodia during February and early March.

The plan WAS that I would return to Cambodia very soon – WITH Zoe……… BUT Zoe has slipped and broken her left leg in three places. I have come north – 1400 klms north of Brisbane to Townsville and Zoe’s home on the quite magikal ‘Magnetic Island’ {and I agree with Captain Cook’s observation that the island confuses compasses!)….. I will return to Cambodia soon and Zoe hopes to be well enough during July.. perhaps. all good – we shall see how healing progresses.

 

 

    Especially for people who know the Guesthouse…. and indeed we hope that EVERYONE will eventually visit…. after all, the Chuor Ph’av Schools are 0ne kilometre through the rice fields to the rear (above).

The earth moving you see in the phone footage (above) sent to me last week, you see a rice field we have acquired across the rear of the Guesthouse. As we had done for the Guesthouse, we have raised the ground level by 0ne metre. We will use this extra land for a sitting area and pond together with fruit trees and vegetables. The creating of a pond has given us the soil to raise the land up to the same level as The Guesthouse.

I am looking forward to returning to catch up with EVERYONE… to start our maintenance programme, pay the teachers on time and work toward our wonderful extra classrooms – essentially School NUMBER FOUR.

posting from Magnetic Island – John.

 

 

 

A great month. a LOT achieved, donated and seen – website improvements AND our website Guardian has returned!

In CategoryJohns blog
Byadmin

Today’s ‘Blog’ is confined to the 4 week visit by Zoe – the 2 week visit by Linda and Mark and the 3 day visit by Corrinne and Jon – all between February 7 and March 6 2018.

Please scroll through carefully so as not to miss some of the great little developments over these 4 weeks.

 

Zoe and Mark (also me, Corrinne and Jon) being driven in style from The Guesthouse the one kilometre to Chuor Ph’av School – driven in the Peter Greenwell tuk tuk which even though used all day every day is still going strong after 4 years. Following us are Chanthou with Linda on a 125cc motobike. A good photo of the tuk tuk, without roof/canopy, is below.

 

At Chuor Ph’av School we identified a number of urgent needs*. They are: paint inside and out – Blackboard renovation and paint – a number of new doors and a few new window frames. The teachers themselves listed NEW DESKS as the number one priority and I deal with that issue as you scroll further down. Teachers in the two photos above are Head Teacher Sok Ken  – Sramun our number one English teacher and Soth who together with Sok Ken will lead our ‘Local NGO’ team.

*As ‘urgent needs’ go nothing is actually as urgent as three more classrooms. I am in continuous contact with The Cambodian Government and we also work very closely with their local representatives – ‘Three more classrooms’ IS urgent and we have very limited money and the Cambodian Government has even less. We love the Cambodian Government and they love us. Their needs are transparent. we need that block of three rooms. Much more on those classrooms within a few months. John. 

 One urgent academic need was a printer. Over the years we have given two laptops (and they both still work)  – Internet is inexpensive in Cambodia and a printer, scanner, copier will be very useful. We went into the nearest large town – the Provincial capital – Prey Veng and bought a 3 in 1 printer and also paid for the necessary electrical work (and a spare ink cartridge). All this was money donated for these purposes by Zoe, Mark and Linda.

You will see, as you read through today, that Mark, Linda and Zoe have funded ALL expenditure listed.

 

On the left (above) in the staffroom/office is Chanthou with Zoe talking through current school needs with Sok Ken the Head Teacher. On the left of that first photo are three of our female teachers.

(Reminder: every one of our 14 teachers is a fully trained Cambodian teacher – we pay no foreigners any money at all and we employ no administrative or office staff, anywhere.)

In this group we see – back row left to right – Linda, Corrinne, Zoe, Jon and Chanthou (Mark and I? – nearby!)

Front row – CHILDREN….. To the left our tuk tuk (Peter Greenwell’s tuk tuk) in front of the water filtration building – three stepped tanks with sand.

 

Sramun’s class this morning – Zoe hlping out with a trial of a few English words. Chanthou looking on.

  

“Well done everyone,” says Zoe.

   

It is an extraordinary happy feeling to visit our classes. Just a wee reminder – without our help (YOUR HELP) these school buildings, let alone the classes, would not be here!

Lots of different classes in progress and a desperate need for desks, paint and blackboard restoration. We have bought blackboard paint and the teachers will prepare the walls and paint them. They are not BOARDS as such; the cement wall is sanded, the wall itself is painted, vertical and horizontal lines for chalk writing are ETCHED into the blackboard paint (which was impossible to find so we made some compromises), and a wooden frame screwed into place.

NEXT: Prey t’Baing – Antibes School.

  

Eleven teachers at Chuor Ph’av School and three teachers at Prey t’Baing (Antibes School) In the photos of Antibes School you see the teachers plus Zoe, Chanthou, Linda, Mark and me, John..

    

A priority for the Antibes School was electricity for their School itself and to power a pump, which needed to be bought for water. The temple, 100 metres away has electricity. Mark, Linda and Zoe paid for support poles set in concrete to carry new cable to the school and bought the electric pump and connection to the well (photos above).

The 43 photos below:

Zoe’s daughter, Carrie runs ‘My Health Yoga’ based in Broadbeach and New farm in Queensland in Australia (But also with a BIG internet presence. To cut a long and very beautiful story shortish, Zoe has written a Book entitled ‘Transformations – A Guided Journal” published by VIVID in Australia. Zoe has given me a copy and is herself a Yoga Healer… I KNOW we will have a lot lot more to say WITH Zoe over the coming years – like I say – it has been a wonderful four weeks with Zoe.

Prior to today we opened the website directly onto the current BLOG. Mark, Linda and Zoe have rewritten both the “About” page and the Donate page and with remarkable skill, Carlos – best friends with Carrie and her mum Zoe – in Brunei – has moved the Blog (this Blog) via a ‘Johns Blog’ link from the new Homepage – from the ‘About’ page. (But you know how to do that because you’ve just done it.)

                                  

 

     

The 43 photos above:

(incase you missed this paragraph higher up) -Zoe’s daughter, Carrie runs ‘My Health Yoga’ based in Broadbeach and New farm in Queensland in Australia (But also with a BIG internet presence. To cut a long and very beautiful story shortish, Zoe has written a Book entitled ‘Transformations – A Guided Journal” published by VIVID in Australia. Zoe has given me a copy and is herself a Yoga Healer… I KNOW we will have a lot lot more to say WITH Zoe over the coming years – like I say – it has been a wonderful four weeks with Zoe.

  

  

Our Schools combined are fed by 12 villages with around 1000 people per village. The six photos above are of some people from the very poorest of our villages (immediately behind Chuor Ph’av School) You can see our old friend Kamau in three of the photos. Kamau has her own section in ‘Village Children’ to the left of your screen – more on Kamau immediately below:

Below – Kamau’s baby – Picadeh:

        

The photos above show Kamau at age 12 planting rice and at her wedding a few years ago, and me with her little boy Picadeh.

Our Guesthouse has become very much a Community gathering and meeting place. Many children, often dozens at a time spend hours with us, playing and chatting. They want to help, so we bought ten child sized brooms. In the photo above, Nang’s daughter, Peery is holding the broom – the others are collecting rubbish ready for a fire in the late afternoon.

  

Photo 1 above at the Guesthouse, Chanthou’s mother buys one kilogram of tobacco for US$1.

Photo 2 and 3 above. Constant work and maintenance at the Guesthouse.. A new driveway cost US$75 (Donated by me. EVERYTHING and all money spent at The Guesthouse is totally separate from our Schools.)

 

If you read above about School needs, an urgent need is “DESKS”. All our original desks and all maintenance to date was and is done within the villages. We need new desks. We have had this new ‘prototype’ desk made within the village. The teachers and Mark, Linda, Corrinne, Jon, Zoe and I think that they are excellent and excellent value. We now need US$37 per desk. At the moment we need 60 desks.

 

Peery the “Beautician” uses milk and local leaves to make a ‘mask’.. Good eh?!

    

We traveled to Phnom Penh where Zoe (pictured in the roof top restaurant of The Foreign Correspondent’s Club) bought an Hitachi Twin Tub Washing Machine. Chetra a local young man who returned to our villages as a qualified electrician, maintained and fixed our solar inverter and entire electrical system – recommended a new (extra) solar battery and this particular washing Machine model. Zoe also paid for the extra battery.

Linda and Mark paid for the double sink and tap which is replacing a shallow trough on the floor.

Below: The S21 Prison and The Killing Fields.

   

We took Zoe to see and in many ways, experience, first the S21 prison and then out to the Phnom Penh Killing Fields.Elsewhere within this website and a great many other good websites the whole horrific Khmer Rouge story is told

   

The S21 survivors:

S21 was a code name for the confession and extermination prison housed in a High School. Phnom had been emptied of its two million residents and this particular school made secure with barbed wire, toture and death. Not one person escaped in its 4 year operation and 3 times a week inmates were bused to The Killing Fields (below)

 

When the Vietnamese invaded in 1979 they found that seven people were alive. We met two of those survivors today. The second man in the photos stayed alive as the official artist for the Khmer Rouge. The KR were proud of their torture and extermination processes and kept Bou Meng alive to paint its history. It is horrific beyond words

Next: The killing Fields.

  

Thousands of excavated skulls from shallow pits… Then a small pit where naked women were found dead. The dead men were not naked. Surviving KR soldiers readily admitted to raping all the young women and girls before beating them to death (no money for bullets)

 

The overall HORROR of the Khmer Rouge can most simply be summed up in the above tree. Known as The Killing tree. Babies and the younger children were swung by the feet with their heads smashing against this tree.

Every group of visitors that we have hosted over the years – we have taken to both Angkor Wat (see below) and the S21 prison and The killing Fields (above), so if you look to the Index to the left of your screen you can find a section on The Khmer Rouge and the Blog Archives are below the main index.

Next – Teaching English:

  

With Sok Ken, the Head Teacher present, So Nita, female teacher on the left and Sramun to the far right (plus teaching photos below) and at the far end of the table Soth, another teacher. Zoe is to left and rear. – we had a meeting under The Guesthouse to help them plan an English teaching course.

      

   

Above: Two selected Beginner (VERY BEGINNER) English classes.Most the photos are in Sramun’s calss with Zoe helping a little.

Note the physical state of the Blackboard. We have given the teachers new Blackboard paint.

 

Above: The infusion set attached to a bamboo cane is a common site in Cambodia. Today, Mab’s son, is attached via a canula in his ankle to a bag of saline and sucrose with some vitamins. This, the family had to pay for in a clinic, one hour away by motorbike. The family is immediately sent home (together with bamboo pole)… When the liquid has dripped through, his mother will take the needle out of Songha’s ankle and then use the piping and drip tap to cool simple engines or their 100cc motorbike engine.

Above: a new photo of Bit. Who is Bit? look at the banner of childrens’ photos at the top of our website and Bit is on the far left,

 

Peery is absolutely absorbed in playing Zoe’s African instrument – Sansula. And then Zoe shows the girls a video on her smartphone.

Next: The Guardian of The Website returns:

 

Please look at the banner at the very top of our website. The photo on the left is the first photo that ANYONE had EVER taken in our villages. (I took it) And the girl staring directly into your heart is Clee. When my son and his IT Department built our website in 2011 I asked for Clee’s image to take charge of the website on the far right of the banner – and there she stays. 

Sadly, within weeks, Clee and her mother and father disappeared. I found out only last week that her father was falsely accused of murder. Last month the police found the actual murderer and the family could and has returned. They had disappeared into the Cambodia/Thai border hills where they joined a troupe of traveling singers, dancers and actors. Clee now age 16 can sing, dance and play traditonal theatre roles…. BUT they areabsolutely penniless. They have returned to our poorest part of the village to base themselves as an entertainment troupe. The very first place they came too – weary, dusty but relieved was The Guesthouse and I was there!!

Her Dad, Pol is an incredible singer and Dancer and I know that Clee is following in his footsteps. The little travelling troupe made sure their children learned basic elementary lessons and Clee can read and write.

A lot of tears were shed the day we all found each other.

   

Three old friends unite; On the website banner – Clee on the far right and Chanthay third from the left. In the middle is Chanthai our Housekeeper. The three girls realise the wondrous significance of the reunion – the puppy named Bam, is however more concerned by the presence of The Teddy Bear.

 

Quite a group:extreme rear far lft is Nang’s sister Mab (mother of the child with an infusion). Then Cheng, Nang’s mother. From front row left to right Pic (blind and ancient Aunties great Grand daughter. Chanthou’s mother (see tobacco photo above)… Chanthai – the only person who lives full time in The Guesthouse. Chanthai has her own ‘Village Children’ section within the index. lasly on a borrowed motorbike Clee and her Dad – Pol.

 

The Guesthouse land running towards the camera finishes at this end of the grey concrete wall and the line of Bamboo scrub. we have bought the next 20 metres of land. ie. 20 metres X 40 metres. A Donor giving specifically for this precise 40 X 20 metre block (two half rice fields) has purchased this land for The Guesthouse. It will be used for several purposes. Banana trees for both dust suppression and food… and Vegetable growing for The Guesthouse; in the second photos the first banana trees arrive on March 7 2018.

   

Next: we traveelled to Siem Reap which is very much a Tourism Town (city) in Cambodia’s North West…. BUT most importantly it is the town with Hotels and Bars that is right next to ANGKOR WAT.

Angkor Wat is… really is… Awesome.. Incredible fascinating, spread out and H   U   G   E. Angor Wat itself is by far the

worlds largest religious structure. Once any traveler has seen OUR Schools and villages – the next thing to see is Angkor Wat… So this is where we came with Zoe.

  

  

  

Pub Street in Siem Reap and ‘Entertainment”

  

On the left of your screen you will see within the Index list – ‘Phnom Penh and Angkor Wat’. That was written in 2011 and the Angkor section has four photos and notes from my first visit in 2004. Within the ‘Blog archive’, below the index also on the left of your screen, over the years there have been twelve visits to Angkor Wat along with their photos and stories.

 

   

  

We had our feet nibbled by fish in tanks; we ate and drank and bought souvenirs and we found a very good ‘crystal’ sort of shop run by a knowledgeable lady from Yorkshire.

At an enormous venue we ate from a gargantuan smorgasbord and watched traditional dancing with live music and singing.

As you have just seen – a very full four weeks with lots more to do, plans slowly unfolding and dreams becoming real. Love to you and everyone, from John.