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.
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.
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.
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.
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.)