So much good news. A New School – Starting TODAY this will be very good year. “My Health School” – the contract is signed and building materials are already arriving.

In CategoryJohns blog
Byadmin

 

It has been almost two months since our last newsletter – Blog post to you. I trust that you will find today’s news worth the wait and apparent silence..

(There are a lot of names and information today; if I have got ANY of it wrong eg. you’d prefer different words or indeed, spelling (?) then please email me on john@educatingcambodia.com and I can and will immediately make the corrections.)

A lot of confidential talks, meetings, more meetings, but mostly talks, some over coffee, some in Cambodia and many on Magnetic Island Australia and to and fro with the Gold Coast of Australia.

Other things have happened day by day and week by week, but the absolute need for these three extra classrooms has meant that I (John) have kept EVERYTHING quiet until TODAY.

We paid all our teachers on June 1o and gave a Classroom Globe, as you will see below – way below – to every room INCLUDING the three yet to be built. You will also see that we used three Globes to choose approximate placement of the new three room School. So people donated to pay the teachers and others donated money for the Globes – all will be revealed below.

But I think it is reasonable to start with the new School.

My Health School

Zoe Anne Fields my good friend from years ago in Beaudesert, South East Queensland now lives on Magnetic Island 1400 kilometres to the north of Beaudesert (but still in the State of Queensland.) and a magically magnetic 20 minute ferry journey from Townsville.

The March and May newsletters (index to the left of your screen very much feature Zoe, first with Mark, Linda, Corrinne and Jon from Beaudesert and in May on Magnetic Island – photos at The Rotary Club of Magnetic Island meeting are below today’s ‘new school’ photos.

Zoe is funding the NEW SCHOOL and naming it after her daughter’s Company. So – Carrie Anne Fields runs My Health Yoga – but Yoga is only part of her internationally renowned philosophy.

To date Carrie has trained over 2000 Yoga Teachers.

Our new school in Chuor Ph’av will be named “My Health School.”. We are not expanding as such, we are addressing unacceptable overcrowding. I am not sure today whether the classrooms will be general classrooms or specialist classrooms eg maths excellence etc. Our children are ‘streamed’ at times but that philosophy is led by our teachers.

The following link is to Carrie’s beautiful and inspiring website. (a stunning photo of Carrie is on the cover)

http://www.myhealthyoga.com

We are very very proud to be associated with Carrie. (I was going to write ‘with Carrie and Zoe’ But very wonderfully Zoe is already spiritually right alongside us in our villages – and joined by Carrie.

We will start with a video of the contract signing in which several things are explained:-

 

Now lets break this down with photos, taken by many different people; some by me, others by the teachers, Ren and So Nita and several by Chanthou.

The photos are not really in much of an order but finish with the initial payment of US$10,800 and then with some site clearing and the very first deliveries of sand, gravel and bricks.

The last two photos before the land preparation photos and first material arrivals are of a meeting back at The Guesthouse with The District Leaders, the village leader and the Builders to double-check that all parties know what is about to happen. WE have done this three times before but Chai and Phai are new builders for us so we had already translated everything very carefully and in this more private meeting, everyone leaves happy.

I’ll add notes through the photos.

 

My Health School will face the camera and be where the slide and swings now are – the school will extend into neighbouring temple owned land, by the white wall. (see an allied note by a photo of a monk).

Three of our teachers watch as teachers Ren and So Nita check the fine details of the Contract  – for me! Then Phai our main builder talks through the contract with Ren.

Ren and So Nita check the Khmer Contract for me!

 

Chai and Phai. Phai cannot read or write so he relies on us and his colleague Chai. Money is counted while I take photos and make sure I understand exactly what is transpiring.

 Chanthou is covering all bases – money and contract. Heng from The District Education Office is very much working alongside Chanthou. Later, as you will see, he is not entirely happy that our Builders understand their responsibility so he and his colleague take them back to the Guesthouse for calm and kind explanations – two photos later.

 

There’s a lot in these photos. The Globes are my personal bit of Drama – they represent what we are doing and in a while become very useful in precisely locating the three classroom school. The Head monk (abbott in English) has become over all these years a good friend of mine and he, with Government approval, has donated all the land that we will need to place the new school a sensible distance from the line of buildings on the right. The Head Teacher, Sok Ken is the lady smiling close to camera.

In the photo to the right you see Mom, The head of The District. In a white shirt is Wai, the Village leader of the village immediately to the east of the school. The main Chuor Ph’av village is immediately to the south and that is where our Guesthouse is. Chuor village leader is in a photo below; I’ll point him out when we get there.

  

Knowing that my friend the Abbott (in orange – obviously -) was saying we could have as much land as we needed, we experimented by moving our three symbolic class room globes ( more about globes in later photos) until eventually we were over that small wall and onto Temple land. That small parcel of land will become School land. It is in fact important to recognise that bothe temple and all the schools are on Government land. Our Schools are Government Schools running by a 100% Cambodian Government curriculum and the temple and Monastery (Wat) is ‘Buddhist Association of Cambodia’ also on Government land. The bottom line is that WE are 100% secure since we are Government Schools on Government Land. “They need us to be able to help them and we need them to be able to help them” John.

 

I the photos above: contracts in Cambodia need a thumb print. Chai the builder. Sok Ken the Head Teacher and Chanthou on behalf of me and Zoe.

Then we literally place the first payment of US$10,800 into the hands of Chai (Representing Chai and Phai. In this photo everyone is represented. District Government. Local Government, The Head Teacher of all our Schools and Chanthou representing Zoe.

 

AFTER the signing, Heng on the left and Mom, both from District Government with Chen at the end of the table. Chen is our Chuor Ph’av village Leader with Chai facing Heng. They are helping, again, Chai (builder) understand the process. All questions and extra .. extra questions were again answered.

The fence/wall between the School land and Temple land was taken down because we need to use the offer by the Temple of some land.

 

The see-saw, slide (or if you are Australian – ‘slippery dip’ -) and swings were carefully dug out for later relocation somewhere to right – they need considerable restoration anyway. The play equipment was originally donated by UNICEF.

There are many great photos from this spot and photos of the schools up to today have usually been taken through these swings.

  

And as by magic things start to arrive, sand from The Mekong and volcanic blue stone for concrete.

  

Bricks, the same as roof tiles here are a strong and attractive terracotta made from Mekong clay and rice straw.

 

Hard hard labour. Everything is done by hand – digging for footings and foundations.

I will continue to take photos and watch over everything as building continues. Exciting – very exciting times ahead in the lives of many with the “My Health School” thanks to Zoe and her daughter Carrie with much love.

       

Zoe visited our schools and villages… and Phnom Penh…and Angkor Wat and Siem Riep …. and Koh Kong as you might recall from the March newsletter (index left of screen) and in the May newsletter I talk of my visit to Zoe’s home on Magnetic Island. (A gloriously pretty place).. While I was there, we planned and talked and planned some more and the result is ‘My Health School’. While I was there we attended a meeting of The Rotary Club of Magnetic Island. It was a lovely evening. The hosts for the night cooked magnificent food – our hosts were Club President Rod and his wife Paula (they run a Magnetic Island holiday company). The local Ambulance Officer talked through the difficulties and issues of accidents on this Island…. and we all had a go at snake bite strapping and resuscitation. You can see Zoe getting her arm strapped in one of the photos. I gave a talk about our Cambodian Schools and the President very movingly (well I was almost in tears – it really was a very welcoming night). Club President Rod presented me with a Club cheque for AUD$200 for our Schools.

Magnetic Island – I WILL be back.

 

On June 10 2018 all 14 teachers were paid. The Cambodian Government pays all our teachers and partly because we are so very remote, we pay them a salary supplement.The first and second photos are under The Geusthouse with seven teachers and Chanthou. The other five Chuor Ph’av teachers were in Prey Veng town at ‘in-service’ education. In the second photo, Sok Ken the Head teacher accepts money for those other five teachers. (see below for the three Prey t’Baing Antibes School Teachers.)

The eleven teachers at Chuor Ph’av are paid US$180 each every six months by us – and that money until now has been donated by The Rotary Club of Beaudesert. We are moving now to individual people, from ANYWHERE, taking on teachers’ salaries. If YOU think you could take that one -say one teacher – or more – for US$180 ready for the December 10 payday (its June 10 and December 10 each year.) then please, find the RAWCS – Rotary Australia World Community Service – link within the DONATE page in the index – it easy to do and is tax deductible in Australia. Thank YouJohn (we come to the other three teachers in a moment)

This is within the Head teachers office and staffroom at Chuor Ph’av.  A Few years ago a Beaudesert Rotarian named Doug Lavers McBain paid for a Classroom Globe. As any teacher or indeed any parent knows, a Globe is not just a special tactile thing to have, it is an AMAZING teaching aid. Doug gave me money for some more; this was added to by David Jones and Susie Gaardsted. I had enough money for one for every classroom including the three yet to be built. Thank you everyone.

 

And f you’ve been paying attention, you’ll know precisely what these two photos are all about!.

At the School at Prey t’Baing – known as Antibes School the three teachers were paid on June 10 by Chanthou – and we presented them with their very special three Classroom Globes. The three teachers at Antibes School have for some years now been paid with donations directly from Peter Greenwell of The Rotary Club of Beaudesert.

Enough for today – exciting times ahead – love to everyone from John and all the children and their families and their teachers here in the Kamchay Mear District of Prey Veng Province in Cambodia..

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

May 2018 – Planning – in particular the next few months.

In CategoryJohns blog
Byadmin

I’m writing today’s notes over the first few days of May 2018.

Right now, by far our greatest needs are around building maintenance. After we pay our 14 teachers in early June I am happy to say that we have the money needed for all our urgent maintenance needs.

As I have said several times over the past two years our next greatest need is and will be another three room school building (we call each one a school because they are a) detached from each other and b) each one has been separately funded and ‘named’ accordingly)  :-

..we are now very close to finalising the funding and our building requirements for our fourth ‘school’. The NEW School will be identical to and opposite the existing tw0 – in our main village (lots of school photos throughout this site). As you may know we operate with up to 100 children – per room – in the early shift from 7am and a DIFFERENT 100 children in the late shift from 1pm. Much more as the plans unfold and building starts over the next few months.

If you look back at the last posting on March 8 you’ll see that the preceding few months were happily very busy with a huge number of photos and their notes. You will find today – some of peoples favourites from that post together with a few that no one has seen from the same period – but we start with some new photos with their notes.

 

I arrived back in Australia in March and immediately we were given an opportunity to put on a display at ‘The Centre’ – in Beaudesert town. In the first photo the current Beaudesert Rotary Club President – Susan Page – is sitting with me. The second photo is perhaps particularly special; on the left is next year’s (starting July 1st) President, Lesley Turton, then Arthur McDonald, the only surviving Foundation member of Beaudesert Rotary Club – 62 years ago! – and Susan Page, President.

In the photo above, taken at one of the weekly Rotary meetings, we see Lesley – Club President after June 30 2018 and Mark Jackson who is very well known in our Cambodian villages – Mark has been, along with Linda, eight times to Cambodia. – more of Mark and Linda Jackson in photos below – and indeed, throughout this website.

 

I’ve spent a very enjoyable five mornings every week since mid March helping the incredible Keith Reinke sell Rotary raffle tickets in aid of all the Club projects. I challenge anyone anywhere to find a more successful raffle ticket salesman than Keith. In the second photo, Brian Yarrow dropped by for a chat. Brian was our Club President in the Rotary Year 2008-09 and is forever listed as one of our earliest and biggest Educating Cambodia Donors. There is a list of Gold Donors within the Donors Page to the left of your screen – ‘Gold’ means $500 or more.

 

A lovely picture I think of Keith and me and then of a raffle draw of Easter eggs donated by Woolworths Beaudesert. Carissa, the Shop Manager is drawing the raffle.. A HUGE ‘thank you’ to Woolworths. Woolworths also donated time, staff and food for a BBQ for Keith who separately raised money for the Leakaemia Foundation – Keith really is quite remarkable.

  

  

Above, we have six of the most popular photos from the past weeks – four of them from the March post and various emails and Facebook and two that see this website for the first time.

  

A selfie of our teacher, Sonita, that she sent to me a short time ago and next – one of our always smiling ‘Antibes School’ teachers. Antibes School is in the village of Prey t’Baing (within our Government District but a 60 minute drive through tracks from our other schools in Chuor Ph’av.)

This smile is there for just about ALL of the time. A wonderful teacher too.

       

From whatever angle and whether wide shots or close up photographs, our Childrens’ enthusiasm and determination is always apparent, as it is with ALL our teachers.. Browse the website, you wont find a bored child anywhere!

Another wee photo you haven’t seen before. Mark and Zoe in the Computer Shop in Prey Veng Town, buying a printer for Chuor Ph’av School, with their own money.

 

The two photos above bring us to right now – in Townsville, North Queensland. You have seen a lot of photos of the unstoppable Zoe in Cambodia during February and early March.

The plan WAS that I would return to Cambodia very soon – WITH Zoe……… BUT Zoe has slipped and broken her left leg in three places. I have come north – 1400 klms north of Brisbane to Townsville and Zoe’s home on the quite magikal ‘Magnetic Island’ {and I agree with Captain Cook’s observation that the island confuses compasses!)….. I will return to Cambodia soon and Zoe hopes to be well enough during July.. perhaps. all good – we shall see how healing progresses.

 

 

    Especially for people who know the Guesthouse…. and indeed we hope that EVERYONE will eventually visit…. after all, the Chuor Ph’av Schools are 0ne kilometre through the rice fields to the rear (above).

The earth moving you see in the phone footage (above) sent to me last week, you see a rice field we have acquired across the rear of the Guesthouse. As we had done for the Guesthouse, we have raised the ground level by 0ne metre. We will use this extra land for a sitting area and pond together with fruit trees and vegetables. The creating of a pond has given us the soil to raise the land up to the same level as The Guesthouse.

I am looking forward to returning to catch up with EVERYONE… to start our maintenance programme, pay the teachers on time and work toward our wonderful extra classrooms – essentially School NUMBER FOUR.

posting from Magnetic Island – John.

 

 

 

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

In CategoryJohns blog
Byadmin

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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

February 4th 2018 – between guests.

In CategoryJohns blog
Byadmin

The  post about Lauren’s visit was just ten days ago (see -below this post)

 Mark, Linda and Zoe visit from Australia in a few days time and then Corrinne and Jon a few days after that. We are busy. happy and busy. I won’t be able to write properly while they are here so this post TODAY is a collection of our very recent activities mostly this month around the Guesthouse and villages. The end of today’s post is a collection of photos from Lauren’s visit in early January – taking five people to the Dentist 

so now – today’s post -

 

    “Fishing for food Cambodian style in our village – once a year and today is the day”.

This our Guesthouse dam 2000 cubic metres of water is pumped onto neighbouring fallow rice fields. I KNOW it is 2000 cubic metres because that is how much soil we excavated four years ago to raise our building area for The Guesthouse. We have never seeded the dam with fish – we don ‘t need to. Every wet season, fish arrive through the rice fields and irrigation channels and grow BIG. The fish, snakes, eels and frogs are groped for by hand as the water level lowers – a man with electric probes powered by batteries walks between fishermen, fisherwomen and children and electrocutes snakes. The following morning, this morning, the dam is again 60% full of water. (indeed now at the time of editing the notes I took a few days ago, it is 90% full).

In June, fish will start arriving into our 6 metre deep dam via the rice fields and the cycle continues. The fish are all salted for consumption over the next few months. All helpers are paid in fish, the rest are sold to non helpers     Look at the above photos and notes from ‘fishing for food Cambodian style’. An extra photo of a few of the hundreds of fish caught by hand and salted for several months of fish to eat.We had a party and roasted a number of the fish, placed inside a fresh banana tree stem (trunk) with lots of river bank herbs – it was delicious.

  We burn our rubbish. For a number of years I was President of a good Conservation Association in Australia. I know we should only purchase sustainably and recycle everything that we can. I understand about toxins that move into the soil and river systems…..

…So … We are in a remote part of Cambodia. There is no waste collection. 30 years ago here most products were either made of wood or plant material and people ate exclusively that which could be grown or caught. Our villages still practice the hunter gatherer model to a certain extent…. This is what we and all the surrounding villages do….. almost everything that is broken is taken apart and parts reused or the fan, radio, umbrella, chair etc is fixed. Glass bottles which are rare things find a permanent life in the village kitchens for storage. Aluminium drink cans are crushed, collected and taken to the city on the next visit for a small monetary reward. Broken and useless plastic and plastic material in anything that cannot find a new life in the villages is added to the monthly bonfire. We could bury our waste but that presents a worse problem locally. Farm animals roam every garden and property and rice, mangoes and coconuts are grown within a few paces of every home. Developed countries have a big problem with old TVs, computers fridges etc etc. We have no computers, fridges (I wish we had the power to power a fridge – they won’t sell us a gas fridge “you are too remote for us to visit for maintenance.” – Plastic in the villages is useless once it is broken beyond re-use and repair. So, for now, once a month when the winds can take the toxic smoke away, we have a bonfire. -The two photos above, are of a gang of girl helpers having turned small heaps into one. pile and then later yesterday the fire at twilight.

      

Getting specific now – on Febraury 3 – yesterday as I write – we planted a lot of mango trees (khmer word is Svey) and coconut trees (Doh) (yes, Doh). We also bought a selection of flowering shrubs, Maangos and coconuts from a travelling plant sales family in a tuk tuk with trailer. The third photo above is a ‘screenshot’ from Chanthai’s (x- to sart) Facebook wall – ‘Happy Day’ – as you can see.

 … and also yesterday a new bed and mattress arrived – we are sooo ready for the next guests.

  Our Guesthouse pig and her 14 piglets were born 3 days ago. We have moved mother and babies down the road to Chanthou’s mother’s home (early visitors will remember it well) We’ll move them back to the Guesthouse, six weeks from now. All piglets survived and mother and babies appear healthy..I’ve known a few pigs over the years and this one seems incredibly intelligent – she walks calmly close to me, looks directly at me and appears to be trying to communicate verbally.. I think that many pig owners would have similar experiences. (whether you own the pig or the pig owns you I’m not entirely sure)

  

The paragraphs immediately above are a screenshot from the EducatingCambodia Facebook Page that goes with the photos of clothes and boots.

 

My wonderful friend Zoe arrives here in just a few more days… and  – believe it not – these baby clthes, or maybe a LOT this time, are coming with her. The screenshot next to the photo of clothes with Zoe hiding behind them is from the equally wonderful Carrie , Zoe’s daughter. ( a lot more about Zoe and Carrie and all there loving friends during and after Zoe’s visit. Zoe is with us for a month.

  

I am writing this on February 3 and the concert (above) was last night in Avignon, France. (if you agree that I am “irrepressible” see Hilary’s article written in France, then let me tell you – Hilary is equally irrepressible or even more so, …maybe we’re twins…..

Bravo Ludvine et Helene. Merci. “au profit d’Educating Cambodia” (now surely no one needs me to translate that. Hilary – onward (as we say to each other.)

    

Brave Danni. 32 first time – see the notes.

 

I have frequently talked about how good my Dentist and her Clinic Pachem are.  I am looking at five receipts for work done yesterday to me, to Chanthou who had treatment last year, to Lauren who who also had treatment last year and to 32 year old Danni, our original Guesthouse keeper for whom this was the first time ever at a Dentist and for 18 year old Soklep (also first time at a Dentist.) The photos are of the ladies on the Clinic steps – meeting Dr Bophal in reception – work done for Danni and work done for Chanthou. (All the photos were taken without a flash with my Lumix Leica TZ80) The planning and organisation of the day was remarkable. We all had different chairs in different rooms and Dr Bopal and her nurses moved through us all. I don’t have photos of either Lauren or Soklep because I was probably being treated myself at the time. I’ll now work through the FIVE receipts to give you an idea of what we got for our money <3 Danni – Top incisor broken away diagonally in an accident. Rebuild perfectly – US$22.50 Chanthou – scaling and polishing US$10.50 two fillings – US$45. Wisdom tooth extraction –US$71.10 Lauren – Check up from last year + scaling and polishing – US$10.50 Soklep -Scaling and polishing US$10.50. Three fillings + repair a broken incisor (again perfect) US$45. John (me) Incisor and caninerepair (perfect) US$45. Scaling and polishing US$10.50 Lauren paid her own US$10 50 and I paid the remaining US$260 As I always say. The World’s best Dentist

   

and we work out the bill for everyone at reception. Thank you Dr.Bophal Uch and the Pachem Dental Clinic.

Love to everyone from our schools, our villages, our teachers, our families and most of all from all OUR children – John

Lauren visited during January 2018 – and what did Lauren do?

In CategoryJohns blog
Byadmin

 

It was Christmas 2017 when we last wrote and it’s now late January 2018 – Today is a big post with 90 photos and eight short videos. First though I’ll give you the introductory paragraphs which explain the way we work, what to expect in this website and information about donated money, without which we could not exist and are very grateful for: The “DONATE” Page is now as SECURE and as SIMPLE as it could possibly be:

TWO DONATE OPTIONS:

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 http://www.rawcs.org.au  (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 -

It is an unusual post this month as will infold. Only partly, it is unusual in that almost all the photos have already appeared on both my own Facebook wall and on the EducatingCambodia Facebook Page. Another unusual aspect is explained in red (again) about half way through the post. BUT perhaps the main reason for any duplication is that many of my older friends never or rarely see Facebook. This website is promoted through Facebook, twitter, word of mouth and EMAILS!!

Lauren brings more much appreciated hats

       

We are a 100% Secular Government School. We are situated right next to the village temple on Government land. A good friend of mine is the ‘Abbot’ who called round to say ‘hello.’    They are a beautifully friendly group of teachers – Seven on duty for today’s morning shift. Remember there are two totally different ‘shifts’ every day. Half the children are early morning to early afternoon and the other half are afternoon to early evening.

As you know from the Christmas post, below this one) we made our December payment to our teachers and handed out hats from Our Lady of The Rosary Kindergarten in Brisbane – Today, above, lots more very welcome hats brought by Lauren from Australia. Luckily we had the perfect sized class for the number of hats…. and there are more to come when visitors arrive during February!.

    

The five photos above have just been given to me by teachers. The first is of a new teacher (replacement with details to come) and the rest are taken by Teacher Ren Soth who sometimes takes our photos.

 I’ll write more about Lauren’s time with us as we go along. The photo above was taken by Lauren and shows a simple small diesel powered thrashing machine that separates rice from husks. ( and one of our village girls)

  

Three photos and the video show us moving a small but very heavy Chicken house to the Guesthouse.Three years back you could find a much larger chicken house being moved by 50 people through the village – this time it’s through the village to us, and the chickens now live at rear of the Guesthouse.

Over the years there have been a number of photos and notes regarding all the travelling sales people – from bedding and beds to food, pots and pans and clothes.Today a small truck travelling through the villages with cheap plastic and kitchen ware.

Its wedding saeson. The crops are in and people come to their home villages for weddings and village parties. Cambodia is tied to its villages. The village elders control passports and all working and ID documents. People love their home village. All weddings and funerals happen back in the person’s home village. In the case of weddings, it is a maternal society with the new husband usually moving into his wife’s mother’s home.

 

Grabeh – water buffallo – are rarely eaten. They are the basic strong reliable workers of the fields and pullers of carts. (lots of grabeh photos from earlier years are within this site.)

   

Sorry for the poor photo quality of the above four photos but I think its worth posting them. Once a year every village temple and Wat (monastery) holds a HUGE fair – the nearest western comparison would be village fete cum harvest festival except this is much MUCH bigger. You can just make out the Beaudesert Rotary School sign in the first photo… we were the motor bike park. More than 5000 people came and there was a traditional show on stage – like a pantomime with local themes.

 one more fair photo. You can see Lauren in the midst of the group.

   Four photos to do, at least in part, with honey. Honey that we in the west buy in jars and comes from hives, is regarded here as FAKE HONEY.  In rural Cambodia they climb trees at enormous risk and break off pieces of wild honey comb. all parts of the comb are used and consumed and also used in ceremonies. it plays a large part in healing and promoting healthy re-growth.

In the other three photos above, while the baby’s mother is away working in a garment factory, the baby, held by her grandmother is protected by a twist of village beeswax her mother personally put in the hair before leaving for a few weeks in the factory. This belief is a spiritual belief and probably pre-dates Buddha (2500 years ago). Early visitors know the mother, Danni, our first Guesthouse keeper.

 

Do you like the jewelry that Seyneang made? Sreyneang aged ten is Rot’s daughter. Rot was Nang’s uncle – so making Sreyneang an aunt to Peery. (if you have no idea about this story or lineage, you wont regret reading ‘Nang’s Story” – see the index.)

Now have a close look at the bangle (or ring) – Sreyneang has made it out of interwoven drink can pull rings. Aluminium. (I am now the proud owner of several and of different sizes.)

A woman named Zoe ( many Beaudesert people know Zoe Fields) is coming here in just a few more days time along with Mark and Linda from Beaudesert. The above post is from Zoe’s daughter Carrie. Their  love of what we do in our villages has moved both to help us in big ways. I am looking forward to picking up Zoe, Linda and Mark at the airport on February 7. Corrinne and John arrive later.( Mark. Linda, Zoe and Corrinne are major donors already (see the Donors Page.)

My dear friends Hilary and Jean Pierre in Avignon are working so hard with their new Theatre (Le 9). If you look through the years Hilary’s theatre support for us from Antibes has made Hilary very much my partner and regards everything we do as OUR SCHOOLS. The astute reader may have seen my frequent use of ‘OUR’ .. they are not any one persons 1300 children – they are OUR children.. There’s another show coming up and adverts for it are already on Facebook and I’ll include news about THAT show here, next month.

We now move into Lauren’s holiday. From hereon there is nothing about the schools. So why put it all HERE??

I have brought Lauren and Chanthou from the village along with Chanthai, our Guesthouse keeper (used to be Danni – see above). Chanthai gets an opportunity to see of her own country!

We explore Phnom Penh and an enormous Fairgound and then four of the best days ever in the very far south-west corner of Cambodia – Koh Kong.

Since our beginning – visitors have explored Ratanakiri in the far north east, Angkor Wat in the north west, The killing Fields, the south east border regions, Kratie in the east and Kompongcham in the centre – and all those adventures are here on this website.

Basically the next photos and notes TODAY are SIMPLE BAIT. We want you to donate to our Schools and visit and after or before you make it to our remote villages let us take you on the holiday of a lifetime in Cambodia ‘The Kingdom of Wonder.”

 

Diamond Island (Koh Pich) is within the Mighty Mekong at Phnom Penh. It has a recent sad history just a few years ago while I was there. 350 young people were crushed to death trying to get off the island over a narrow bridge. I saw the aftermath and Calmette Hospital bravely trying to deal with a mixture of tangled bodies and survivors. The bridge is now completely replaced and Diamond Island is againn enormous fun….I’ve posted photos from the fairground before; do you like Lauren’s scooter dodgem car?

Before heading south west on a bus we called in at my all time favourite pharmacy. (video above). Actually I mostly took this video to show my Sydney Pharmacist daughter, Jenny, who will be HERE this time next year!

The map marks Koh Kong town with an ‘A’ with the Thai border at the lowest end of the line with the beach just acroos to the east and then south on the Cambodian side of the border. The Mangrove forests are right through an enormous maze of coastal channels and Ta Tai is an hour by tuk tuk and boat into the mountains – Cardaman Mountains.

On Facebook we have received more ‘likes’ for the photo above of Chanthou in red and of Chanthai and Lauren at a small waterfront table than any other photo we’ve posted. Our hotel for four nights was 100 metres left and past that bridge – the bridge to Thailand. That was our first evening.

.. and then, later the same evening on this side of the bridge to Thailand at our Hotel restaurant.

   

The following day we spent in the mangrove channels.

  

With my somewhat inadequate legs I am pleased that I made it up 100s of steps of an observation tower and took the elevated photos.

 

This is a closeup from the tower of Chanthai pretending to hide and saying hello and next, Chanthou and Lauren pretending to fish.

 

…and so into our boat and a cruise through the mangrove channels.


The three short videos above are I trust, self explanatory
  

The next day, we travel by tuk tuk across the bridge that WOULD take us to Thailand – but just over the bridge we turn sharp west and then sharp south to one of South East Asia’s best kept secret beaches ( I know where it is, so come here and we’ll take you). [The white hotel with the red roof is our hotel.]

  

…and so our our special beach. Enjoy the short video.

 

As I say, one of South East Asia’s best kept secret little beaches.

         The next day it was back over the long bridge but this time we continued to the border checkpoint with Thailand. The three girls went and I stayed in a cafe just inside Cambodia to wait for them.  Chanthou went over for a maximum three hours using her ordinary National ID. Chanthai had forgeotten hers and that could have stopped her crossing ….. Lauren should have paid US$50 for a Thai visa and another US$40 for a Cambodian visa (her visa expires on leaving Cambodia, even for three hours.) We solved all problems with US$5 which got Chanthai through on Chanthou’s ID and Lauren didn’t need a Vietnam visa for the three hours stay. All fine.

  

They returned – Lauren paid for a visa, everyone was happy with the markets on the Thai side of the border and they met me back in my cafe. All fine. (AND Lauren got the Thai stamps in her passport that she’d been looking forward to.) Lauren and Chanthai outside our hotel.

 

An hours tuk tuk drive north east from our Koh Kong town hotel and then a magical boat trip up stream into the Cardaman Mountains.

Enlarge some of the photos; it is a truly beautiful area and a wonderful day was had by everyone. There are a few very nice eco-resorts along the river banks.

 

These falls are the Ta Tai waterfalls and the area is known as Ta Tai. We moored the boat and clambered over rocks to the pool and big sitting rocks.

    

It really was a wonderful fourth day in Koh Kong Province. All the time there was magical.

 

… and returning to our hotel, this was our evening view. You can just make out Lauren in the first photo.

We hope you enjoyed Lauren’s holiday.

Please help us – donate a little if you can and visit our schools AND ‘The Kingdom of Wonder’  John.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year

In CategoryJohns blog
Byadmin

 

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
Byadmin

 

BEFORE WE GET TO THE INTRODUCTORY PARAGRAPHS -

 

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

 

TWO DONATE OPTIONS:

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 http://www.rawcs.org.au  (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)

I 

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.

John.

 

 

 

 

2007 – 2017 and onwards. Ten Year Summary.

In CategoryJohns blog
Byadmin

 

  Cambodia 2007 – 2017

Within this website you can find the full and ongoing history with thousands of photos and detailed notes. To the left of screen there is a full and constantly updated list of Donors and ways to Donate. There are a great many significant people not included in this relatively short ‘Ten Year Summary’. There are hundreds of minor works and small projects not listed today but they are all within the website. These few paragraphs do I think give an overview since the beginning in 2007 to November 2017.

The writing and photographs today are an expansion of a ten year report for “The Rotary Club of Beaudesert” as part of Beaudesert’s 60 year Dinner held on October 28 2017 –

 Beaudesert Rotary Club, Exchange Students, Visiting Rotarians, Family and Friends. Photo taken at the 60 year Dinner at Beaudesert RSL Club October 28 2017. (Denis Bettridge’s camera)

 …and one of Linda and Mark with me at the Dinner for 60 years of The Rotary Club of Beaudesert….. for which I had written a ‘Ten years in Cambodia’ report, that inspired this much bigger Report/Summary.

 …Today, I have added to that report.

The reasons for, and early planning of, OUR Schools are well documented within the website:

I visited our main village of Chuor Ph’av in 2005 and again in 2007. They were heavily populated rural villages with no school, no sanitation or drinking water, no health care and no electricity. As the United Nations often says – ‘Start with EDUCATION’.

Personally I had no money but I had friends. I called Corrinne Delahunty, a friend in Beaudesert who was a member of Rotary International. I told Corrinne that I had planned a way for a school to be built on Government land by locals. A strong building. After it was built we would pay NO ONE except Cambodian teachers and import no materials – ALL LOCAL. Over time in 2007 ( there are photos of those planning months on the website.) I took 42 good photos.

At the same time, I told my friend of 50 years, Hilary Lemaire in Antibes, France (then Hilary King) all about it and showed Hilary the photos and talked through the ‘Dream’.  I also told our mutual friend Ros Rokisson in England.

In mid  March 2008 I returned to Australia and Corrinne took me to her Rotary Club in Beaudesert – I talked through the plan and showed all of the 42 photographs that I had taken. The Club wanted to take it on as a ‘project’.

In late March 2008 I joined the Rotary Club of Beaudesert.

As luck would have it there was a big District Rotary Conference in Yamba (New South Wales – Australia) one week after I joined!

Heather Yarker, a wonderful Gold Coast Rotarian, who was at the Conference LOVED the plan and was and is of enormous help. In April of 2008 Heather helped us register ‘The Plan’ INTERNATIONALLY – so – ‘Schools and Related Projects in Cambodia’ was registered as a Rotary International Project and as a RAWCS (Rotary Australia World Community Service) Project with an ID of ‘Cambodia 55 2007- 2008’ – and this was before we had raised one dollar! And before we had named what we do “Educating Cambodia” (why ‘Educating Cambodia’?  I wanted to start a website and every combination of ‘school’ ‘children’ and ‘Cambodia’ was taken as a “ .com “ except ‘educatingcambodia’ – so that is what we are!)  We still operate with that RAWCS ID number.

At that Conference in Yamba, we received approval and minutes later we were given our very first donation by the owners of Iluka Caravan Park – $1000. The Beaudesert Rotary Club President 07 – 09  was Albert Prior.

Brian Yarrow was President through the next crucial year of 08-09 (from July 1st 08 – June 30 09). We needed $26,000 to buy all the materials locally for that first school which is a single building of three 10 metre x 10 metre rooms. We would never employ ANYONE except village builders and Cambodian teachers – and this, we have maintained over the years. We received donations from Brian himself, from our Club, many members, Southport Rotary and Hilary in France. (I write much more of France as you read on.)

THAT FIRST SCHOOL WAS OPENED IN DECEMBER 2008. 10 Club members travelled to Cambodia for the opening..

 96 children in THE MORNING SHIFT of Grade 1. Our very first School Day!

During Corrinne Delahunty’s Presidential year we planned an identical building to be School ‘two’. Through friends of Rotarian Heather Yarker (see above), ‘Captain’s Choice Travel’ of Melbourne entirely funded the second school and with a Rotary Foundation ‘Matching Grant’ we opened that school in Doug Lavers McBain’s Rotary year in December 2010. The Matching Grant got us solar electricity, books, sports equipment, musical instruments, uniforms and desks. (Desks made by mums and dads and EVERYTHING sourced locally.)

2011 saw Otago Polytechnic in Dunedin, New Zealand be VERY helpful indeed. For three months a group of IT students created THIS Website. It was our first use of Facebook and the opening of EducatingCambodia Facebook Page. We are forever grateful to Otago Polytechnic, the IT Department and my two lead students!.. I was there with them. I knew nothing – they knew everything… This website is HERE because it is STILL hosted by the IT Department’s successor – Otago Polytechnic’s College of Enterprise and Development. ….. I can’t possible miss mentioning my number one favourite Dunedin cafe – run by Kimleang’s Cambodian family!!! – it’s called the Khmer Satay Friendly Noodle Restaurant (or words to that effect), just round the corner on George Street and if someone reminds me of the real name, I’ll re-edit this section)

Again, Captain’s Choice funded the THIRD school in Prey t’Baing village. Our Club paid the teachers of the first school and Captain’s Choice paid teachers in the 2nd and 3rd schools.

(photo of the children running TO School on the first ever school day in Prey t’Baing.)

Antibes, France….. After two years, Captains Choice stopped paying their teachers . Prey t’Baing Teachers were taken on by Antibes in France. France then also took on combined schools’ maintenance and the building of teachers accommodation known as ‘Chez Hilary’. – that building is now our PRE-SCHOOL. Antibes became one of our very biggest donors and Prey t’Baing School was renamed ‘Antibes School’

My friend Hilary rented a THEATRE in the centre of Old Antibes and with mostly English and Irish Professional Actors, Theatre Groups and Musicians produced Professional Theatre. Antibes supported everything we did from, buildings, books to  teachers.

  Eva and Roland from Sweden via Antibes stopped off in Phnom Penh to buy OUR children a mountain of exercise books and pens -Antibes School in the photo on the left and Chuor Ph’av swings on the right.

Hilary LOVED and LOVES what we are doing in Cambodge (Cambodia) and started in those very early days to be very much our joint partner. Hilary had a large home on Cap d’Antibes and soon, Hilary’s Cambodia Shows moved to her home. (see, also, a later reference to Hilary’s new Theatre.)

UNICEF gave us the swings and slide and Kevin Marsden’s Beaudesert Rotary Club year paid for a ‘rotary hoe’ to improve village farming. Peter Greenwell paid for a tuk tuk to ferry children to High School – it also carries everything imaginable from cement to pigs and journeys to market. We have a ‘filtered ground water to drinking water’ system donated by a combination of ‘Cleanwater Cambodia’ and France.

  

 Above you see wonderful concentration. We find that with our huge class sizes slate is much better than paper for learning to write. The teachers can easily see an array of slates held high. Also above – Mark and Linda sit in on a high achievers maths class… and being maths, on the whole, they could follow it on the black board.

3 years ago Antibes money ceased as Hilary and husband Jean Pierre moved to Avignon. That money should restart during 2018. In early days I visited Hilary and her Theatres (including the original Red Pear Theatre in Old Antibes… plus a performance for EducatingCambodia at Mougin International School, Cote d’Azur of “Portrait of Dorian Grey”  by brilliant Irish Professional  Actors (all Hilary’s performers are professional and perform for OUR Cambodian children)…. In July 2016 I visited Hilary and Jean Pierre in their new home in Avignon; they were converting the huge ground floor into ‘Le9 Theatre’ – it is next door to The Grand Opera House of Avignon.

So, recapping – that left the Antibes School without a donor for teachers’ salaries. Peter Greenwell has so far picked up the cost of their 3 teachers. The combined schools’ attendance has grown to 1340 overall in two shifts per day. We pay the teachers a salary supplement of US$360 per year each. Beaudesert pays for 11 teachers. These are Cambodian Government Schools on Government land. The Cambodian Government pays each teacher US$900 per year.

We strive constantly for ‘sustainability’.. Of course it will be good when the villages can totally support their own schools…. to that end we are educating every single child in the district. we try to advise and help with farm help and transport. In every way we started at a point immediately post Pol Pot. As repeat visitors all say, improvement is clear – but we did start with officially Cambodia’s poorest villages – this and the encouragement and appreciation  we get from the families and all levels of their government is why we are still here and need to be still here.

     A great many photos of teachers right through the website.  This last one today of one of our wonderful teachers was taken three days ago in the Pink Clinic/Staffroom.

Over the years, so far, a number of people have made MAJOR donations for specific needs – again all detailed in the website. We sent one of our first and highly valued teachers to part time University for 12 months: Nang’s daughter, Peery (see Nang’s Story in the website) is supported by Jana. ..

  This was Peery’s first day at school; she was almost 5 years old. She was so very proud of her slate she wanted to show her mother her first letters… REMEMBER NO ONE HAD EVER BEEN TO SCHOOL BEFORE WE ARRIVED IN THE VILLAGES. THIS SCENE OF  CHILD TEACHING PARENTS IS REPEATED THROUGH THOUSANDS OF FAMILIES.

(Do I have a favourite photo out of the many thousands? Yes – this one, above – Peery teaching her mum -.  The reason that Peery receives extra support is explained in ‘Nang’s Story’) Incidentally my personal second favourite is of 12 year old children RUNNING TO SCHOOL on the first ever School day in Prey ‘t’Baing. {scroll back 13 photos to find it.}

..Chanthai’s smashed teeth were replaced by 8 implants(!) with both Jana’s donation and our wonderfully supportive Phnom Penh Dentist Bophal Uch  (Chanthai is now our Guesthouse Housekeeper and photos and notes from Chanthais treatment are in the “village Children’ section of the website.)..

.. Roz from England supports in many ways, incuding Thean to University and Soit who we rescued from difficult work conditions at age 14 and returned her to school. Susan Page, Beaudesert Rotary Club President NOW – 2017 – 2018 kept our villages going for several years with First Aid equipment and general medicines. Many MANY other small works and projects are within the website.

With contributions from our Club and France we had built the Pink Clinic (see within the line of buildings). We are not operating as a full Clinic yet but we have simple First Aid and a Registered Nurse – Chandarith – who was one of our original students in 2008 – see the website, Nov 2015.

Every year a number of Club members visit – Linda and Mark Jackson have been 7 times – Lauren Hanser 3 times. Since 2008 John Mann has spent alternating 3 month blocks in the villages and back here in Australia.

We need another building of 3 classrooms to be situated where the swings now are (Swings to be relocated near the main entrance). We need US$30,000 to build that block and at this time of writing, we are waiting to hear from a possible donor – this will mean extra teachers and that issue is part of talks. The Donor or Donors will have ‘naming rights’.

Linda and Mark Jackson paid for the building of Our Guesthouse for volunteers and visitors. This is thoroughly detailed with many photos within the website. The photo above shows the Beaudesert Rotary Club visit of 2014.

The 15 villages of Don Kong Commune, in the District of Kamchay Mear in Prey Veng Province are officially the ‘poorest in Cambodia’ – and 12 of those villages attend OUR Schools. We are educating them to give them a good chance of survival first and then sustainable prosperity – and they, many thousands of people within our families, are very VERY grateful to The Rotary Club of Beaudesert, to France, England and every single donor – all of whom are listed within the website.

John Mann.

 

 

1.Rotary in Australia. Any progress with extra classrooms 2. Rotary Exchange Student. 3.Beaudesert Show. 4.Hilary and Avignon. 5. Children at play and Guesthouse chores. 6. Two videos.

In CategoryJohns blog
Byadmin

 

BEFORE WE GET TO THE INTRODUCTORY PARAGRAPHS -

 

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

 

TWO DONATE OPTIONS:

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 http://www.rawcs.org.au  (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 -

Unlike any previous posting we’ve divided this post into six areas. Overall, today, there are introductory notes and photo captions plus there are two new videos and 26 new photos (plus two reminders!).

 

After my return to Australia – At the weekly meeting of The Rotary Club of Beaudesert on September 19 at the usual venue of The Logan and Albert Hotel. In the first photo you can just see Linda and then Mark, then Susan – our Club President, then Jeff our Treasurer, then me – John, Lauren and Mathew. Nodoka our Rotary Exchange Student from Japan. (more on Nodoka below). I was giving The Club an update about my recent and latest three months in Cambodia.

October 11 in the Queensland town of Harrisville there will be a ‘cluster meeting’ of five neighbouring Rotary Clubs. I’m given the chance to give a brief overview presentation of our work in Cambodia. We need a partner club or group of clubs to join us so any outcome will be interesting and welcome.  October 28 is the 60th anniversary dinner of The Rotary Club of Beaudesert – more below.

The need for three more classrooms – update

As reported several times recently we NEED more classroom space . We have 1340 children and ten classrooms – and even in two shifts of early morning through to early evening we are very overcrowded. We are talking with a person from The Gold Coast of Australia who might be able to help us. Please everyone note that we also pay our teachers, buy books, maintain the buildings etc etc and that anyone who funds the building of say a classroom block gets the naming rights and therefore remembered forever!

ANYONE can donate ANY amount and a browse through the DONATE and DONOR sections to the left of your screen will tell you what we need.. but any ideas from YOU are very VERY welcome.

 

On October 28 The Rotary Cub of Beaudesert will be 60 years old! To help celebrate the Club is hosting a BIG dinner. The two photos above – Nodoka is our one year Rotary Exchange student from Japan. Nodoka is making paper crane table settings. Nodoka is sitting next to Linda. More on both Nodoka AND Linda below.

 When I am in Australia I live with my friends Mark and Linda. The three of us sitting on that couch are the Committee along with Chanthou in Cambodia which runs EducatingCambodia – what we do in the villages.  Bam and Rowdie complete the picture with Rowdie sitting in MY chair guarding my wine. Mark and Linda funded the building of The Guesthouse and have visited Cambodia eight out of the past Nine years and are coming again in January 2018. Mark and Linda love our Schools and our Schools and our 1340 children love Mark and Linda.

My faithful camera had finally died and the two Rotary meeting photos above, together with the photo with the dogs, plus the first three Beaudesert Show photos, below, were taken with my brand new Panasonic Lumix TZ80 with a Leica lens. (‘The Dogs and us’ photo was taken from a tripod and delayed exposure.) Looking forward to getting the camera back to Cambodia.

 

 

Three photographers for this section on THE SHOW.. I took the first three (with my new camera which will serve us well in Cambodia.)

The Beudesert Show is Beaudesert Rotary Club’s biggest fund raiser each year. The Show is a two day event – a country show of animal and produce competitions from beef and grain to vegetables and flowers – art and cake making to show dogs and horse jumping – a fairground and food stalls…. and that’s where we come in; The Rotary van cooks burgers, steaks and chips and Rotarians (members of Rotary) volunteer to raise money for Club Projects. This year we had members of The Fassifern Club helping us – Fassifern Club will be at the Cluster meeting described above for October 11.

 In this photo. Doug is sitting. Doug came with his wife Joy to Cambodia some years ago – as did Marc McCabe who is in the previous photo. Geoff Gillow is also in the previous photo – frying chips.

 

These next five photos were taken with Nodoka’s camera! Members David, Tamara and Kathy in the food van. Nodoka is wearing her Beaudesert High School uniform.

 

 

The Beaudesert Show continues for two days until 10pm each night. These three photos were taken by Club member – Lesley.

In Lesley’s three photos we see Shane our immediate Past President, Peter, who does lots of great project volunteer work in The Solomon Islands.. and Eliza who is Lesley’s daughter. In the SECOND photo we see Eliza with Arantza our Spanish Rotary Exchange Student (like Nodoka but from Spain!) and Shane again. We also get a glimpse of Linda at the Chip Fryer.

 

A few days ago I took Nodoka (see above also) to The Grand Plaza Shopping Centre – 40 minutes north of Beaudesert. Nodoka didn’t want Sushi, she wanted a Chicken and avocado fillo roll. My meal was slightly less healthy – Scone, jam and a lot of cream.. yum.

 

Hilary and Le9 Theatre, Avignon, France

Long time readers will be used to “France” updates from Antibes. Hilary and all her friends in Antibes plus all Hilary’s visitors and performers from around the world soon became our BIGGEST donors. Hilary moved to Avignon with her wonderful craftsman (and guitarist) husband Jean Pierre and built a THEATRE within her historic town house just a ten paces from The Opera House of Avignon.

Hilary’s new Theatre is named Le9 Theatre Avignon – it just happens to be the street number. There are photos if you scroll back in time starting around 14 months ago when I was present for a tiny bit of the HUGE and incredible building phase.

Please read the poster above. There is a performance on October 6 and Hilary has just told me – there is an extra performance on the 5th!

So if you are anywhere near Planet Earth on the 5th or 6th of October – there is a great Concert on in Avignon and OUR children in Kamchay Mear district of Prey Veng, Cambodia will receive the help they so seriously need.

Please remember or know that 100% of donated money is spent on our Children’s Education. Other projects such as individual health needs or help with village farming are dealt with as completely separately funded projects but again, 100% of money raised goes to the project. We employ NO ONE except Cambodian teachers.

 

 

While I’m away in Australia, the teachers often send me photos. On the left we have Sreymao and on the right Sreymao is joined by SoNita. Great teachers.

 

When not at school a lot of our children call in to play and talk at The Guesthouse. Chanthai is THE Housekeeper. Chanthai is firm and kind with sometimes 20 children at a time ….. sooo she gets them happily cleaning. All three of the girls in the photo above have their own sections in “village children’ – one of the sections to the left of your screen. Micara, Chanthai and Chanthay.

 

 

… and I’ve added the two ‘playing in the rain’ photos from last month just to remind you that its not all work!

 

 

Ironwork and the Gate almost finished.

On September 1 we included photos and notes regarding the agreement with The Government that we would provide

not only a secure front wall and gate but also an ‘imposing statement’. Look back to last month to see 1) damage done by a bulldozer which we had to fix ( paid for by Mark) and the new ironwork running the length of the Front Wall (paid for by me, John.)

(painting of the grey cement will be done at a later date)

Things built traditionally with craft skills, hard work and love… and built to last.

Last but by no means least. Just to show you how all our incredible skilled carpentry is done! TRADITIONALLY and BY HAND.

This would be one of the oldest working saws in the world and it’s in our villages. Known variously around the world as a Pack Saw or Bow Saw or Frame Saw.

Lots of news coming soon so that is when we’ll write again, John.

 

Updates from The Schools, Kamau, Chanthai and The Guesthouse

In CategoryJohns blog
Byadmin

 

BEFORE WE GET TO THE INTRODUCTORY PARAGRAPHS -

- we have updated a number of “Pages” – photographs have been added to the “Village Children’ Page and in particular the …

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

 

TWO DONATE OPTIONS:

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 http://www.rawcs.org.au  (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 -

(There is complex detail in today’s post so please read all the notes – otherwise it will be very difficult to follow.)

 Ren has a laptop – a prize possession in our villages.

  

Our last post was on August 1 2017. The second half of that post was a report on our School Maintenance needs.

I am absolutely delighted to tell you that we have received some money – wonderful donations in the last few weeks  from our friends around the world  - 

in alphabetical order: Bob Feinberg – Susie Gaardsted – Peter Greenwell -*Linda Jackson – *Mark Jackson -Theresa Jamieson -  *John Mann -Jane Scheckter – Anni Julitha Watkins – The Rotary Club of Beaudesert – Jana Zehr.  (the ‘Donors’ list in the index to your left is updated.)

Linda, Mark and Johns’ donations were spent on The Guesthouse. Linda and Mark paid for major attention to the rear stairway – also, staying with Linda and Mark, for new rear stair foundations and new rail and runners to the large vehicle gateway (destroyed by a caterpillar tracked bulldozer) and for an oil based treatment and finish for all the unpainted (ie most) surfaces: -: John (me) paid for the new ironwork and attachment to the front wall - as per Government requirement.

- all the other donors listed above gave exclusively to the Schools. We still need another $1000 for School and play equipment maintenance – if you, or anyone, can help we will be very grateful. 

Donors lists: if it’s inaccurate, particularly if we’ve missed you off the list please tell us by email  - john@educatingcambodia.com

We treat The Guesthouse as a TOTALLY separate building from our School Buildings, Teachers’ salaries  books etc and school maintenance. ie. All donated money is for the Schools and Teachers unless the Donor specifies something else.. eg. individual children, a family, an individual teacher, village farm equipment, a vehicle or The Guesthouse. so, money for the school cannot be used for anything or anyone else.

 Obviously with 1340 children across 10 classrooms (including the preschool) in two shifts every day, our classes are BIG…. But as every photo we have ever taken (these photos are brand new) has shown – good teaching and learning is happening. HOWEVER – We need three more rooms in one building -

- There is detailed costing in many earlier articles but basically -

“We need $30,000 – that will build and equip a strong three classroom building. – three 10 metre by 10 metre rooms. The new building would be where the play equipment now is and we would re-locate the UNICEF play equipment adjacent to the school entrance. If you and your friends find you can help us with this amount you will be remembered by our children forever.”  John. 

 

    In the above photos, in the hat we have Sonita – and Ren and Samun, gardening with their children during a break. Wonderful teachers.

 

Next, we say “hello,” again to Kamau!

  

These three photos (above) are already added to Kamau’s section of the Village Children Page (within the index to the left of your screen).  Find Kamau’s section and see her life through the years. I took the first of these three photos about six months ago (photos and the story of the earlier wedding are within her ‘section’) – - next is Kamau – NOW – August 2017 – with her son) and the little boy is with Nat, Kamau’s mother, on the front steps of the Guesthouse.

Chanthai

 

Chanthai in the striped top in the two photos above and the twelve photos below.

I have looked after Chanthai since she was six years old (she is 18 now). Chanthai lives in the Guesthouse and is our Housekeeper. Cleans and cooks and believe me, NO ONE crosses Chanthai. She is clever friendly and FIRM. – (In the Village Children Section of this website you’ll see Chanthai’s history and some of those photos I reproduce here today)

So far we have had very few guests mostly because I have been ill and probably lazy – I haven’t yet adequately promoted the idea of, say, gap year students, not to mention PhD students working and studying and writing among our amazing villages.  My next plan is to contact US and European Universities.

….anyway what the above paragraph means is that paying any money at all to Chanthai for much of the year comes from my personal money.. SO I’ve set Chanthai up with the very beginnings of a shop and beauty salon. I paid for a makeup and hair course for her last year. The idea is that in the village Chanthai can dress and prepare the ladies and girls for weddings and parties. If you know this website well you will know that they LOVE getting ready for all the festivals and weddings etc throughout the year. …. Chanthai’s salon and tiny shop (convenience store) is very near the Guesthouse. Chanthai will, I hope, have her own income. Chanthai’s father died when she was 4 years old and her mother lives in Thailand.

 

At the moment the shop sells whatever Chanthai thinks her friends and neighbours want which is a combination of canned drinks cooled in ice (delivered by pony cart daily) – good snack food made by locals with shared profits, lots of junk food such as crisps (see the photos) and a very popular line of Chanthai’s – they choose a snack that needs frying and Chanthai obliges and puts it on a wooden stick (skewer). (Peery – Nang’s daughter is sitting on the corner of the ‘day bed’ that in Cambodia doubles as a table cum raised meeting platform – Jana (in the Donors list) and I support Peery).

 

   

A bit of Chanthai’s history which many of you know well:- school is in two shifts which means that children are free to help in the home or fields for half a day. A very early village photo – Chanthai at the front of six on a motorbike – a moto – on the way to school. Then, a favourite photo – Chanthai had a cow to look after 24 hours a day so when she started school (One of our original intake – her cow was tethered outside. the third photo is of Chanthai, in her butterfly tee-shirt, lining up ready for her first day at school – indeed The School’s first day!! Among the adults at the back are Chanthou our number one Khmer person, without whom none of this would ever have happened – and to this day. Also in the background is Warn our main builder… There’ is another photo of Warn below as he works on treating the unpainted wood of The Guesthouse.

 When eight years old Chanthai lost all her front teeth (eight) in an accident and growing adult teeth were also crushed..

Three years ago through the generosity of one wonderful Donor – Jana Zehr (who also donates to Nang’s daughter Peery) together with the generosity of Bophal Uch my favourite Dentist and her Dental Clinic  - Pachem Dental Clinic – Chanthai’s life changed completely with eight implants done brilliantly by Bophal in Phnom Penh. …. If you scroll through the posts – index on the left of your screen – to November 2014, you’ll see the full dentistry story.

  

In November 2016 we were visited by a big group of wonderful people from Wagga Wagga in Australia, they are ” Help Cambodia Wagga” .I’ve talked of them frequently since and in the first of three photos above Chanthai is painting and drawing in The guesthouse using one of Wagga’s fantastic donated “art sets’.

Then – in the kitchen of The Guesthouse, watching “Shaun The Sheep” on my phone.

Chanthai in Green – three days ago, all dressed up ready to go to a wedding in the next village. Her white bag was part of a bag of donated clothes I had brought with me from Australia. The strap was broken – fixed in Phnom Penh for $1 and it’s Chanthais favourite thing.

 

Play and learning in The Guesthouse

 

 

Rain ? Wonderful stuff.

 

 

The two photos above and the two photos below will make sense to Australians. Steve Parish is Australia’s best known nature and animal photographer – he also writes children’s storybooks, also about animals. I took the photos on the ground floor of The Guesthouse. Two of our children looking at Steve’s book – “Kookaburra’s Loud Laugh” – it had been donated to us in a pile of other books.

  

…continued from above … Steve is on Facebook and I wrote to him.

So, this brings us very nicely to inside the Guesthouse

Preserving all the unpainted wood.

  

From the safety of distance and through computer eyes, our villages, school buildings and rice fields  look quite magical; in reality NO ONE  from advanced countries (other than me) has found it acceptable or even possible to sleep for more than ONE night in our villages – in all these years, one night was the maximum. So – we built our Guesthouse. It is acceptable and young people particularly would stay in it for weeks at a time. Central to village life and one kilometre from our main schools. It is beautiful and traditional, made  entirely of Cambodian hard wood and terracotta tiles from Mekong clay. It was expensive and needs looking after.

The money came from private individuals (Linda and Mark) and as with its maintenance – as I wrote earlier today – above – not one dollar or cent comes from School, village or health related donations. It WILL pay for itself eventually with any surplus money going to the schools – but not yet. (also see earlier in THIS post for Guesthouse maintenance donors.)

these next 20 photos show work done over the past three months.. I took the photos. All the work had to be done.

In two of the photos (above) we see Warn working in the ‘coffee room’. All – ALL the wood throughout the building is Cambodian hardwood and we’ve left it unpainted in most places BECAUSE it is a truly beautiful hard wood.  Warn was in charge of cleaning and preparation – helped by a LOT of children – and applied all the oil based coating himself. Warn is the best craftsman I know. He built our first and second schools and his father built the third. In the Guesthouse, Warn, faced with 5 metre long hexagonal wooden columns on top of circular concrete bases, hand plastered the columns with cement to make the entire column lengths hexagonal. (I was and am very impressed.)

 

 

  Well done children – preparation is so important. Children know that they can visit freely and the whole community treats the vast downstairs area rather as you would a favourite house and village meeting place. Workers are easy to find because they love their Schools, the Guesthouse and the ‘barangs’ (foriegn visitors).

     inside and out.

… and why are we telling you all this? We need YOU to visit us. The children need you; their families and villages need you.

The front wall and gates

 Note the incredible versatility of Peter Greenwell’s tuk tuk. (member of Beaudesert Rotary Club) Tomorrow the tuk tuk will be reconstructed for the High School run. (see notes above re – the steel reinforced foundations for the gate running rail had been destroyed by a caterpillar tracked bulldozer – so we rebuilt it with deeper and stronger reinforcement.)

and next the ironwork for the wall.

  

 A secure and striking front wall and gate were a REQUIREMENT of the Government. Its not only a secure statement, its a Statement: Presence – and “Face” are VERY important things throughout South East Asia.

We are, sadly, “THE six poorest villages in Cambodia” – Sao Ri said – the old Leader of Don Kong Commune of the Kamchay Mear District of Prey Veng. Sao Ri features in our first ever posts years ago as we calculated village needs and how it might all be done.

The people are lovely BUT it does mean that we COULD attract theft and as I’ve said often before when I am in the villages I have to pay for police presence. Beaudesert Rotary recalls that one particular year with ten Beaudesert folk in the village we had 22 (yes twenty two) police looking after us day and night. HOWEVER having said all that, I have been here for a long time, often as the only ‘foreigner’ and often with hundreds of dollars in my pocket and the entire collective mass of villagers care for me and I feel and am safe .

ANYWAY – the wall REQUIREMENT?!

It’s more a VERY obvious border and threshold than an impenetrable barrier.

In January of this year you might recall that I had to argue RATHER STRONGLY to keep our wall when the 4 metre wide road was becoming a 20 metre wide road. We kept the wall but road drainage had to come along the inside of our wall and in the process the gateway and concrete base for the gate rail and runners were destroyed (utterly) by a caterpillar tracked digger.

If we’d lost the wall we would have had to rebuild it at OUR expense (that’s the way it is.) because the wall is a Government requirement.  As it was we had to rebuild the gateway from it’s foundations to gate rail and runners…. BUT we hadn’t completed the wall – those valleys within each section of wall were designed to take the ironwork that as you can now see matches the two gates (vehicular and pedestrian!). We had the money dedicated for the wall ‘requirement’ so this week it is complete. We WILL paint the wall but not just yet – my attention will very soon turn back to School maintenance.

 

…. So – when you come to stay with us ..

Soooo when you come to stay with us and get to know the children you have so often seen and read about – you will love the long slow evenings in The Guesthouse surrounded by rice fields, Srok Khmer ( rural Cambodia) and the families – and you will crave the occasional escape to a town on The Mighty Mekong for a restaurant meal.. Just 45 minutes by motorbike or 4 wheel drive is the town of Prey Veng nestled on the East bank of that rather special river..

Love to you all,

from John.