Bye Bye Soit – for now …

In CategoryJohns blog
Byadmin

My daughter Nell says that this is the saddest post she has seen – and she has seen them all. Nell has a Doctorate in Education.

Our dreams and goals are continually challenged.

Our aim is to provide basic education in the Khmer language to ALL our regions children. This effectively means, Khmer reading and writing, mathematics, science, history, geography and  a lesson akin to General Studies (or SOSE in Australia.) Tian, one of our teachers also teachers very basic English.

A new or secondary aim WILL BE at least a selective High School level of Education. This WAS planned through a major fund raising Dinner by a Golf Club in The South of France – this Dinner and hence the High School is now sadly on hold or cancelled – see a recent Blog.

We have at any one time around 40 students age 14 –  15 who the teachers regard as of eventual University standard. The first problem is getting the students to a distant High School which we can do for about ten of ‘OUR’ graduates in the Tuk Tuk kindly donated by Peter Greenwell of Beaudesert Rotary. …….

……. Today illustrates the second problem.

 

……. Soit (pronounced ‘sew it’ said quickly) was one of our top 40 students. Soit is 14 years of age. Her father died 3 years ago. They are one of our very poorest families. They don’t own a rice field. Basically they cannot afford for Soit not to work. (our schools are free but the family has to eat)

In the photos you see Soit desperately insisting that she wear this hat  (from The Rotary Club of Beaudesert) getting into a mini bus with her mother to trave with her hat to the far south west corner of Cambodia to the Island of Koh Kong where she will work on a Chinese owned flower farm for US$3 per day. She will not attend a school. (if you are not crying at this stage – I certainly am)

There is no ‘buying her back’ or a belated scholarship at least yet – we have to let this go for at least a year or two.. I will stay in touch through the extended families.

Soit was one of our founding students and so has had a full six years of Education. In a big way we have achieved what we set out to do – given her the start (at least) of a basic education. She has not been sold into the sex industry and knows a little of the world from her schooling. Even if Soit never goes to School again we will have an educated mother one day. As I said the other day in my previous post – she WILL come back to the villages so – me being a somewhat determined kind of guy  – Soit will have to wait but is not forgotten.

John

Happy Khmer New Year

In CategoryJohns blog
Byadmin

Yes – TODAY is Cambodian New  Years Day.

As in several other Asian countries, the School YEAR ended on March 31… The New School Year will start on April 20. The Cambodian New Year falls this year on April 14 – lots and lots of celebrations and a national three day holiday. There are no ‘annual holidays’ here , instead there are numerous religious holidays of two and three days.  These short holidays bring many people back to their home villages for celebrations, gatherings and a great many weddings – weddings planned because it’s the time when everyone ‘comes home’.

This New Year holiday is the longest of the year – three days – stretching for some to four days – within the three week school break. Phnom Penh and the bigger towns almost literally empty with thousands upon thousands of laden 100 cc motorbikes  heading to the villages. People who have spent months in Thailand earning $3 a day instead of the the $1.50 per day possible in Cambodia have come home for New Year. The 500,000 young women working in the Chinese owned garment factories in Cambodia have ALL headed beck to ‘SROK KHMER’ – the countryside..

I’ve taked about the importance of villages elsewhere on this website – – VILLAGES are the centre of all activities in Cambodia – not the cities. Amost all weddings happen back in the ‘home village’… the leaders of villages give the permission for passports and weddings and keep the family and village records constantly up to date. I’d go as far as to say that almost all medium and long term life in Cambodia either happens in the villages or at the very least – deferring to village opinion when making decisions is crucial even after people have moved to a city – that move to a city is seen by EVERYONE as temporary.

Almost all the photos today are of our school children on holiday around he villages.

The Guesthouse is about the same as we left it two months ago but with extra soil everywhere, especially down the southern boundary ready for a wall  and then a front gate and doorway. I’ve been talking to businesses in Phnom Penh about solar hot water systems – more on that in a week or so. No one can stay here in any formal sense until the wall and gate are complete .A BIG FORMAL advertised opening with goals, prices etc is coming your way as soon as we are ready.

We will close today at the end of this post with our teachers (also on holiday) being presented with two laptops for use by any of our teachers at the Chuor Ph’av Schools.

 One of our early graduates named Um. Um only had two years of schooling (first school was being built and Um was 12 years old) but it was just enough for reading and basic writing and SOME arithmetic.  She is working in a shop in Phnom Penh. Um sends money home every month. Home for New Year today. She is gathering a vine that grows up some palm trees – it is used as a vegetable

 still at school Mab helps in the family shop. The shop, in Chuor Ph’av village – 20 metres from the Guesthouse – sells many essential items but in tiny amounts eg 100mls of cooking oil. The family vehicle is this motorbike – it is precious and stored within the shop.

 Micara (Da) second from the right is with her family under her house in the kitchen area  (fire in an earthen ware  pot. In the ‘village children’ section to the left of screen you will find that Da has her own sub section. Da’s mother Ian is next to her.

 Da again, with her lttle sister Ut. Very sadly. Ut lost most of her toes in an accident; her mother, Ian, was harvesting rice with the special small sythe. I’ll add these two photos of Da to her village children subsection soon.

  Bit and her home. (Bit has her own subsection in the Village Children section too; these will be added soon. Bit is still mal-nourished – it’s a combination of inadequate food and worms – we are trying hard to address these things.

  I walk around with my camera obviously taking photos of people; when I do, people want their photos taken to say ‘ thank you for trying to help’… In this photo a mum is saying ‘these are my children, thankyou, Happy New Year.’

 two more children that you may know. Nang’s daughter Peery on the left and Chankim on the right. If you remember a photo of a very new mother over a hot charcoal bed (many posts below!) – this is her baby 6 years on – Chankim.

 a hold hands in a circle game.

 Chanthay is doing  very well at school. Chanthay is one ‘the three friends’ – Chanthay, Bit and Da (see above) – Ive been taking their photos since the y were babies. this photo will be copied to the village children section soon.

 On the road through the village.

 Cousins by their home near the centre of the village.  Centre of the village. foreground – this is not a postbox  – there is no mail, in or out) this is a small family shrine – incense and family ashes.

 near the centre of the village.  Tee outside her home

 Six year old Lit next to her pile of rice straw… just like  other straw, it has a tiny bit of nutritional value for the very under fed family cow.  Lit started at our school just last year. A happy girl.

 see the village shop above – these three  are saying thank you because I’ve just bought them some food.

 In the kitchen area of The Guesthouse – laptops for the teachers.

On behalf of The Rotary Club of Beaudesert we presented the teachers with two good strong new laptops. They are VERY grateful. We also distributed lots of knitted beanies (hats) “yes, we feel the cold”!…..lots of socks and bags and bags of ‘in date’ medicines…  All these things were donated from the Beaudesert and Kooralbyn regions in Australia.

The Cote d’Azur in France – from the Antibes Shows and from Mougins School (see earlier posts) has also recently paid $1600 for text books and Exercise books and purchased two laptops for the Prey t’Baing ‘campus’ –  known as Antibes School.

Enough for today I think; its certainly difficult to concentrate when everyone else is merry making on a very joyous New Year. No wait – one more………

 This photo will be added to ‘Nangs Story’ (in the index to the left of screen). If you dont know her strory yet, you wont understand this photo.. I have given this photo (and others framed) to Peery. Nang died on February 1 – this is her daughter Peery. I took the photo that Peery is holding on Peerys first day at home after school. Peery was showing her mother what she had learned (see Nangs Story)… Across all or our twelve villages feeding three schools, children are sharing their learning with entire families.

Happy New Year – from your villages in the District of Kamchay Mear.

(ADDED on April 15 – photos of Peery have been copied to ‘Nang’s Story” and photos of Bit, Da and Chanthay have been added to ‘Village Children.)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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La Timonerie – Annie and Stefan. A magical night.

In CategoryJohns blog
Byadmin

Oh yes – Mais Oui …. yes yes yes!

Annie Reid MBE is a very well known Actress – famous for so many shows and rol;es in English, Theatre TV and film…  Annie starred recently in BBC ‘Last Tango in Halifax’  – she was in ‘Dinner Ladies’.. Annie starred as the mother in the film “The Mother’ with Daniel Craig. Throughout her long career, Annie has been in just about EVERYTHING, from the 1950’s version of ‘Robin Hood’ Coronation Street’ ‘Benny Hill’ and ‘Hancocks Half Hour’ – my very personal favourite is Annie’s shears in the cult classic movie ‘Hot Fuzz’ – (watch it!)

WOW – anyone close to the Northern Hemisphere – get yourself to Antibes this coming Friday and Saturday.

 Annie in ‘Last Tango in Halifax’.

Stefan Bednarczyk is a musician and Actor who people flock to see and hear.

Some years ago Stefan and Annie met up at this very place on Cap d’Antibes – La Timonerie and have devised an incredible collaboration – this is it!!!

Friday night April 10 and Saturday the 11th….

Seriously -IF YOU ARE any where near France this coming weekend – Go see Annie and Stefan and you will be directly helping OUR children in Prey Veng, Cambodia.         John.