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

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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.