Merry Christmas and Happy New Year

In CategoryJohns blog


Christmas Day this year will be a village Monday.

97% of Cambodian people are very happily Buddhist – 100% around here – nationally 1.5% are Muslim (Cham) and 1.5% Christian. I do the the whole Santa ‘thing’… teach the children Jingle Bells, put up decorations and lights and give presents. I love Christmas ANYWHERE as anyone who knows me knows! – if you like, we celebrate the mid-winter Solstice version with Santa added.

The photo above was taken on the Guesthouse balcony (see below for Guesthouse). I’ve only been here for a matter of days and have just managed to solve a lot of technical problems. TWO brand new but brilliant solar batteries. Money for every teacher. Got used to my new secondhand phone. Used my NEW Lumix Leica TZ80 camera for the first time in Cambodia (the old one died a slow painful death)…. and because my internet provider here has updated everything, I’ve had to get my ancient laptop (tablet) updated and a new dongle…. AND said a Happy “Hello” to thousands of Khmer folk.

On the new enormous dirt road (24 metres wide and I have yet to find out why) (Electricity is I’m told, again, coming “next year”).

Note the nine new ironwork cheese segments topping the wall. It was mandatory and I paid for it personally. ” There has to be a statement to protect visitors.” Check out the hats, lots and lots more later.

Please remember  – not one cent of donated money goes onto the Guesthouse in any way – it is however built for visitors,

On the inside of one of the outer walls of The Guesthouse. When graffiti is ‘art from the heart’.

This was painted for me and our January and February visitors. It reads, “Everyone welcome to Cambodia Happy New Year 2018”


All teachers are paid (paid twice a year June and December)!! THANKYOU to The Rotary Club of Beaudesert and Peter Greenwell. in the photo above I’m placing all the money into the hands initially of the Head teacher (and then to each teacher) – Sokken – in her office cum staffroom in The Chuor Ph’av Schools campus…. The second photo is of me preparing receipts immediately afterwards for signing. (in the second photo my camera is sitting on the table.)


I’ve shown literally thousands of photos of children and teachers over the years – today just a few. The first photo above is of So Nita, wonderful teacher, standing in the staffroom/Headteachers Office/Clinic. The second photo was at the end of the day (most children had already left for home), back packs ready to go.


AGAIN my luggage was packed to the point where not one more fat teddy could squeeze in. Thank you so much this time to my daughter Jenny’s friend Jade, for acquiring and giving some pretty incredible (they all are) teddy bears. Here mums are sorting them with village children in mind  especially as in who didn’t get one last time. (more a bit further on).


I’ve included the two photos above, repeated from December 1. I’ve brought with me the few sets of ‘Days for Girls’ (time of the month beautifully hand made and washable with instructions in Khmer script!! from the Wagga Wagga ladies) thanks Kathy – more on this after Linda gets here). Our friend from Beaudesert, Linda arrives in February and alongside Chanthou and some local mothers they can sort out issues, numbers, needs and… and .. anything.

Hats hats and VERY popular hats…. (and Jade’s incredible teddies).

A big thankyou to the Our Lady of The Sacred Heart Kidergarten in Kenmore Brisbane. There is a photo of me with the children and teachers in Brisbane in the December 1st post. You will see in that post that it is FOUR YEAR OLDS who are wearing the hats……


….. SAME HATS on Chanthai (Guesthouse Manager) two mums and a 22 year old man. Chanthou’s son Kumheang.


They Love their hats… again thank you Our Lady of The Sacred Rosary Kindergarten in Brisbane. (There’s another box full of hats waiting for the January and February visitors to bring)

Of interest to people who know the village and Schools. That green truck belongs to Warn our senior Builder. We have full use of it so he often parks it within the Guesthouse grounds. (note it is parked next to Peter Greenwell’s tuk tuk with its roof off for hard labour)

Today I have updated the ‘Gold Donors’ list. see Donors and how to Donate to the left of your screen. You are a Gold Donor if you have donated $500 or more. If YOU have donated $500 or more please check through the alphabetical list. IF I’ve forgotten anyone its good to know for history’s sake, plus an update is easy to do.

(I’ll insert here a personal plan of mine for 2018. In 1982 I performed a one man show in Theatres – I plan to do it again – all money raised will go to our Schools. I’ve had initial talks with a few friends – I was thinking of starting in France – I don’t know yet. A lot more on this idea soon – it is a one hour 45 minute show. I’ve started re-preparing.)

Meanwhile while children were parading hats and teddies Chanthai and Chathou were preparing fish from our dam for salting and storage.


There are 5500 photos within this website and 300 of them are of Peery (in green above taken today) and of her mother Nang from 9 years ago.

   and to the right, one of the saddest photos I’ve ever taken – Christmas 3 years later.

If you would like to read a passionate and incredibly moving true story this Christmas, open ‘Nang’s Story’ in the contents list. The 1st of these three photos was ‘Merry Christmas’ from us a few years ago – it’s caption read “we don’t do miracles in our villages – but maybe we do.” (the problem was we only managed that particular miracle five times).

especially from from OUR children – Merry Christmas from John.







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

In CategoryJohns blog




The “DONATE” Page is now as SECURE and as SIMPLE as it could possibly be:



1. If you use the Paypal button (Donate Page to the left of screen) we have your DONATION available to us in Cambodia within TWO DAYS of you clicking ‘send’.

2.The RAWCS  (Rotary Australia World Community Service) is now a ‘hyperlink” and that is through Rotary (obviously) and gets to us within a week.  The hyperlink is  (click on it and search for our project – The project name is  “Cambodia 55 2007-08″ …. we were registered as that name and number – International project – BEFORE naming it EducatingCambodia, so the above registration name and number is how to find us  through this RAWCS donation pathway- it will take you one minute to find the project.

Its up to you which you might choose – PayPal or RAWCS – Members of Rotary tend to choose the Rotary (RAWCS)  link and that is partly because  – within Australia donations are tax deductible – for anyone.  ANYONE can donate through either the Paypal link OR the RAWCS link. The PayPal link is easier and just as secure but Rotarians might prefer the Rotary pathway.

We will start with introductory notes for all first time visitors to our website: The paragraphs below, in italics, appear before every post.

(If you would like to talk with us, the ‘Contacts’ Page is near the top of the Contents list to your left – along with how to ‘Donate’ and lots more.)

“If you are new to our projects or haven’t visited this site for a while –here’s how it works:

Whenever you open the site, first-up, you come to the very latest post or ‘blog,’ like this one – and through the years now, we have hundreds of posts and several thousand original photos, all with their own notes. We have over 1340 primary age pupils. Our aim or mission is to provide basic primary education – maths, reading and writing in their own Khmer language, Science and General Studies including History, Geography, health, nutrition and hygiene. Join us please; we pay absolutely no one, no one at all except Cambodian teachers. We have no office or computer staff or administration costs. We rely on your financial help to pay the teachers, maintain the buildings and buy the books. If you like what you see, please find the ‘Donate’ page to the left of your screen and try to help us. (There is also a Donors page which lists all our donors of $500 or above). There’s lots of advice on the site about what money can buy for our children.”

so now – today’s post –

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

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

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

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


Spreading the word! And collecting hats!

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

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


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

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

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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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

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


Days For Girls. (the two photos above).

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

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



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

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

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

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

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

x Thank You Avignon x

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