PART 1: The Rotary Club of Beaudesert and ANTIBES and you and I: The schools and villages of Kamchay Mear – June and July 2013

In CategoryJohns blog

If you have come to our website for the first time, this is the BLOG – stories and photos that together tell our complete story to date; please browse through them.

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There are 69 photos and one very special video  in today’s six part series, today’s diary entry, today’s Blog – meaning that there are over 1000 photos through the website.

TODAY we cover plans and work over that past few months. This is the first post in a series entitled ‘June and July 2013’. There are upgrades and maintenance at all three schools and progress with the Clinic. There are new photos of all our friends in the villages – teachers, children, families, village life and farming. To regular readers of our website there are new photos of our ‘miracle’ lady, Nang and her daughter – also of Bit and Chanthay and all their friends.

There is an ‘only in Cambodia’ video (in part 2) of how to move a Chicken Shed that’s far bigger than the average Cambodian house from one side of a village to the other.

Please enjoy this post with all its parts, photos and stories:


The first photo is of John handing money to Mao, our head builder, to finish all the floors, inside and out at Antibes School in Prey t’Baing village (All our schools are in the Kamchay Mear District of Prey Veng Province. {see more photos later in the post}

Next is money to our Head Teacher, Sok Ken to fix and re-pipe the two big water tanks at Chuour Ph’av and to put taps near to each classroom {see more photos later}

Ran is also one of our builders and is pictured in several photos at Antibes School – in the first of these photos we are giving Ran more Antibes money to build a toilet and to completely paint the school inside and out.

Then it’s back to the Chuor Ph’av Schools and the Clinic building. In one photo, Sok Ken is receiving money to buy a pharmacy reception counter with lockable storeage.

I think the Clinic building will continue to double as the teachers office even though the teachers will have less room. Remember, if you were to scroll back two years, the teachers accommodation/house named “Chez Roy and Hilary” also doubles as storeage…. SO multiple uses will be what will happen even with our Clinic. There are photos today with three of our teachers at desks inside ‘The Clinic.

The next group of photos is taken around a family shrine. Chanthou’s  (our Cambodian coordinator) 43 year old brother in law died. In Cambodian villages there is no diagnosis such as cancer, heart disease, heart attack or even diabetes, stroke etc etc since there are no Doctors. In answer to the obvious question ‘why did he die’/ you get an equally obvious, ‘He was sick’! My guess is lung cancer – he smoked a lot of home grown tobacco wrapped in banana leaf, and occasionally bought packet of cigarettes. There is a lot written before about the zero medical care, its consequences and what we are doing about it in previous posts.. Meanwhile, look at the close-up of the little shrine. Next to his ashes (his name was Sen) there’s a packet of cigarettes so that he can smoke while he’s waiting to be reborn.

If you scroll down to late last year you will see our village rotary hoe – a walking tractor with interchangeable wheels for both flooded rice fields and the road plus a trailer for both, animals, goods and people –

Rice planting is a thinning process and the first stage, before the heavy rains flood the fields, is first to choose a small area and densely sow rice seeds. After the fields are flooded the densely packed seedlings are transplanted throughout the rice paddies.  You can see this whole process in detail if you open the section on ‘village life’.

There are two photos of Chanthay and her friends playing cards – they are copying their mothers who sometimes gather to play cards, gambling with 100 Riel notes (100 Riel is worth about 2 cents. The children are gambling using leaves. Good for maths if nothing else!

The next post is part 2 and continues the June/July series. John.




PART 2: June and July 2013.

In CategoryJohns blog

This is part 2 of the series June and July 2013 –


…. Is far bigger than most rural houses and is made from heavy Cambodian hardwood (money donated for this purpose last year). You may remember that we are trying to help the villages with an income stream so that they can eventually   help with the maintenance of their own schools – or indeed to simply get a better diet for their families! Last year, although we raised 300 chickens, overall it was done badly, partly because no one close to the Chicken House knew anything about chickens and sadly, it seemed impossible to encourage and teach that particular group of neighbours. We had built it at a far end of a village specifically to show that the entire village owned the project  – so that the school was in one place, pigs raised in another and chickens somewhere else. SO, we needed to move the Chicken House nearer to the centre of the village. No one was offended or shamed, indeed everyone was relieved. I imagined that the Chicken House would need to be dismantled – basically knocked down and cut into pieces and carried through the villages and then eventually rebuilt – I was not hopeful!!….

….BUT there was a village meeting and this was the result: Trees were trimmed’ trees were pulled sideways with ropes and 40 men walked The Chicken House intact right through the village of Chuor Ph’av to its new home. They had sawn it off at ground level and currently small concrete foundations are being put around each support column… it’s just about 20 centimetres lower than it used to be!

There’s a series of photos and a short video –  see if you can watch the Chicken House being moved without smiling!


…..And here it is! the ONLY IN CAMBODIA youtube clip.. “How to move an incredibly heavy and huge Chicken House”


PART 3: June and July 2013

In CategoryJohns blog

The magnificent people of Antibes in the South of France had paid for the new floor, the new toilet and paint at Prey t’Baing and also for new uniforms (the school at Prey t’Baing village is named ‘Antibes School’) UNIFORMS are a great purchase, mostly because it gives each family some robust clothing which is usually shared by siblings. As you can see from these photos, a simple gift of a shirt, shorts or skirt is VERY popular.



There is a section to the left of your screen named ‘Nang Story’… these photos today are the latest chapter in Nangs Story. I sometimes read of supposed ‘miracles’ in the seemingly distant European world of Christianity – anyone who reads Nangs story and those who are lucky enough to have met Nang and her daughter Peery or her mother ‘Jane’, knows that this family is OUR miracle (Nangs Story to your left). There are photos today of Nang, Nang with Peery and Nang’s mother and of Peery herself … who would not be alive if it were not for you.


Peery is almost four years old now. Nang takes five tablets a day for Myasthenia Gravis and one every night for epilepsy. Without you, dear reader, Nang would have died years ago (several times!) Nang is an inspiration for everyone in the region and for US to improve their regional health. There is no Doctor at all available anywhere near our villages, hence our concept and action for a community health centre (our clinic) to be run by nurses. For some years we have taken many individuals long distances to see Doctors and to go to hospitals. (Cambodian hospitals are very poorly equipped but it’s a LOT better than nothing!). However the majority of people with illnesses fall through our ‘net’ and simply die of undiagnosed conditions, if and when they don’t get better ‘naturally’.



This is a young woman (age 27) in a similar category to Nang. There are photos of Sralep near her house and two photos of the inside of her house. She is epileptic and but she has no living family. There was no sensible understanding of epilepsy in the villages until we started to get Nang better (see Nangs Story).. but Sralep had certainly fallen through the net.. unwashed, malnourished and uncared for. I only found her two months ago ‘she is possessed and dangerous, keep away’ I was told. Already after tablets, regular baths, better food, some new clothes and my talks with the neighbours Sralep is well on the way to full village integration. I went to visit her one day and she had without advice from anyone started a small vegetable garden and was planting seeds. I cried when I saw this happening. You could not be there to see this without crying. A very rewarding time.






PART 4: June and July 2013

In CategoryJohns blog

Of the 1000 children in our schools there are 40 extremely bright 14 year olds – potentially University students in a few years time. From us at age 15 they will travel to High School in a town and probably sleep for five nights on a monastery (Wat) floor and travel home at weekends. But then three years later University will cost money that they simply do not have. It would cost $1400 for a full four years at University. I have never raised this before but I think it is now time to consider ‘scholarships’ for some of our brightest children.



PART 5: June and July 2013

In CategoryJohns blog

These next few photos are of the new floor at Antibes School inside and out.


The toilet (you can see from an earlier post that we had two but desperately needed a third) isn’t complete yet but it a very welcome right next to Antibes School.


Painting is not complete but it is almost finished.


The water tanks at Chuor Ph’av have never really functioned properly. The concept of guttering, pipes, and taps was new for the villages. We have completely revamped this system. Villagers, as is the model for ALL our building, did all the work. As you can see from the photos, the two tanks are connected to the guttering. Pipework goes underground with a tap outside every class room Rainwater is excellent drinking water here.


and to close this part – one of our very special little school ‘tuck shops’






PART 6: June and July 2013

In CategoryJohns blog

We close today with a series of photos taken through the villages. On July 28th there was a Federal election with two main parties competing for the enormous rural vote – The CCP (Cambodian Peoples Party led by Hun Sen) and the newly formed CNRP (Cambodian National Rescue Party led by Sam Rainsy). Cambodia is in a state of increasingly healthy political activism. I certainly will not discuss it further here except to say that all our villages are vocal and interested in this particular election – exciting times! There are poster photos in the villages from those two main parties.   Every house you see in this last group of photos has between 6 and 10 people living in it – entire extended families. There is only one main sleep room cum living room with a split bamboo floor and people sleep on thin mats. Most ‘living’ and chatting, cooking and eating happens under and immediately next to the house along with a cow, a pig and chickens.    

The photo below is of a rice spirit still. There is another rice spirit still featured in “Nangs Story” to your left of screen.    looking at the photo of a bed underneath a house – this is where the village Leader lives. He chooses to eat, sleep and work from this downstairs exposed area. He even has a $13 mobile phone ‘disguised’ as a landline. (there are no landlines… or electricity).

There are now ‘shops’ in all our villages. I’ve included photos of three shops. When I say ‘shops’ I mean an awning on the road (track) selling simple goods. Petrol, both 2 stroke and 4 stroke is sold in 500ml plastic coke bottles. One litre of petrol cost more than a families combined daily income. Today petrol in Cambodia cost $US1.30.

Here are two photos of play. They are having great fun with a ball made with a plastic bag packed with more plastic bags.


When you browse through our site you will find hundreds of pictures of village children.. these two are in grade 1 in our Chuor Ph’av School.

The main form of rural pulling power throughout rural Cambodia is the Grabeh (water buffalo). These three live at Nangs House, next door to me.

I’ve fixed up a tiny English class at the house where I live. In this photo Chanthou is being taught some English writing by one of our Antibes teachers – Tian … Tian cannot speak English but can read and write simple English!


If you have enjoyed some or all of these photos and their stories please browse through more of our site. Please try to help us with a donation.

With much love to The World from our 1000 children and their families.