Preparing to return to the villages – with photos and notes from Ren, from Chanthou and from me – John.

In CategoryJohns blog

We will start with introductory notes for all first time visitors to our website:

(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 -”

A lot of ‘notes’ today along with 44 photos – so try not to skip the ‘notes’….:-)

I am really looking forward to getting back to see everyone in our District of Kamchay Mear – in Prey Veng Province – in remote Eastern Cambodia. Everyone – all the families – all the children – all the teachers – Our Schools…. I arrive in Cambodia on June 16. I am fit and well and looking forward to finding anything and everything. For example I still have no idea why we have got a 20 metre wide road instead of our old 4 metre wide track) – I shall find out and tell you (See the January and February posts for the background story).

The last post was March 24. I have been seeing nerve specialists in Australia and I am now ready to return to the villages and Schools centred on the “six poorest villages in Cambodia’ – (Don Kong Commune figures for the Communes 13 villages)

I’ll start today’s Post with The Rotary Conference of District 9640. Ballina is a town on the East coast of Australia. Our Australian Rotary Club – mentioned 100s of times throughout this website – is The Rotary Club of Beaudesert and we ran a display stand at the Conference:

 For the first time in nine years I met up with Graeme and Anne Lockyer from The Rotary Club of Iluka.

In March of 2008 Educating Cambodia together with Beaudesert Rotary Club started our fundraising at the Yamba Rotary Conference. We had the concept and knew what we had to do.
I hadn’t booked a booth or a stand to tell people of our needs…
… in fact I borrowed a tea trolley, moved the milk and coffee and set up a VERY informal ‘booth’ next to the toilets.
.. at a neighbouring REAL booth were Rotarians Graeme and Anne Lockyer… at the end of the first day, Anne walked over to me and said “I am so moved by your passion’ and wrote out a cheque! .. Anne and Graeme’s cheque was OUR FISRT EVER DONATION of any amount.
THAT WEEKEND at the Ballina Conference we MET EACH OTHER AGAIN and I felt quite OVERWHELMED telling them about our current 1300 children and showed them the photos – linked them by friending on Facebook and I am so proud to write their chapter properly in the website today. Graeme and Anne have always been listed as our first Donors – click on the Donors link to the left of your screen .


A lot of Clubs had display stands of their own special projects; ours was 80 photos (see photos of the ‘stand’) with notes from EducatingCambodia. ALL of the photos together with another 4900 are within THIS …. OUR… website.

 I am posting this photo of Ita Buttrose because of a conversation we had at our Beaudesert Rotary / EducatingCambodia exhibition stand.

Ita is VERY well known in Australia and New Zealand as a major Magazine Editor and TV personaity (and that’s only part of her wonderful story).

Ita had just given a talk to our packed Conference upstairs. I went back down to the Display area and Ita left the stage and walked downstairs to look at Displays – I was the only other person in the whole area…..

….after listening and looking at our Cambodian Schools’ photos Ita said simply, “Thank you for what you and you are all doing in those Cambodian villages.” …
… NO ONE in Australia ‘thanks’ us for what we are doing in another country! People say such things as “what a great project’ or ‘I sponsor an African child’ or ‘well done.’………
…….. But Ita Buttrose’s ‘thank you’ was PERSONAL. We are helping Ita!!
This all fits very well with the theme of Ita’s Conference talk which was “Thinking Beyond The Individual”.
It is I think a realization or understanding that there is only ONE human being and that human being is ALL OF US – our life form if you like.
I sometimes share my own little theory and that is:
..we usually say that human lifespan is, say, 80 years and yet we happily say that the oldest living organism or animal on the planet is The Great Barrier Reef…. HOWEVER, if we were to use our human lifespan argument we would see that the Barrier Reef is made up of millions of little coral “animals” that have a short lifespan, die, and new baby corals then live on top of the skeletons of their parents….
… If we were to apply the ‘coral reef is an ancient life form” argument to ourselves as humans we would see ourselves as not only 2 million years old but as one united human being.
Ita Buttrose was saying ‘thankyou’ because she is seeing all people as ONE.

(LOOK AT THE DONORS PAGE and you will find names from all over the world. Today we concentrate on Australia and as you will see later, The Rotary Club of Beaudesert… In monetary terms our biggest Donors or within our own Club but also in Antibes and now in AVIGNON and also in England and the USA. Today it’s all about the villages, the schools and our Beaudesert Club. Next month along with all the latest news I’ll give a Europe update.)

BUT NOW – photos sent to me from the villages by Chanthou.

 Actually, I took this photo a few months ago but it never made it onto the website – so – here is Chanthou at her mother’s home (with The Beaudesert Rotary, Peter Greenwell, tuk tuk… WITH .. frogs for breakfast. I was asked last week if these are GIANT frogs…. big? yes; GIANT? no.. They are however close to my camera!.


As I reported in March, the Guesthouse has become something of a wedding venue and community hub – here is food being prepared on the edges of the groundfloor – you can see the tiles (500 of them) that form the ground floor. Do you like the cutting boards? slices of tree.

  Dogs and cats are essential parts of village life. Our cats have to be good at catching rats and mice – or they are replaced!

 As with the post from March 24, Ren, one of our wonderful teachers has sent me some photos…. what I dont show you today, I’ll include in a post after I arrive in Cambodia in mid June… this ground work is happening NOW and is preparatory garden landscaping immediately in front of our School Buildings (lots of play areas too).

Next – fifteen of Ren’s photos of the time I was away (except for one because I am in it.)

In answer to the question, that has been asked, “What happens John, when you are not there”?

“Education happens”.. “It would be a very unsustainable project if we’d built schools that only exist in our presence.” – John


A lot of people like the updates on children they have come to know.There’s a villge children section for just those updates. Peery is within her mothers section – ‘Nang’s Story’….. Just Peery for now and then more when I get back to the villages.

 Jana from Queensland in Australia supports Peery and I do too – we have bought Peery a bicycle so she can get to School. Why do we support Peery? please read Nang’s Story and then you’ll understand – plus I promised Nang’s mother that I would take care of Peery if anything happened to Nang.. and it did. Read the story.


I was sent these two photos of dancing Peery on May 11 – that was 2 years + 100 days since Nang, Perry’s mother, died. (100 days is a Buddhist ceremony to help the person’s soul on its journey).
Aagain -for the full and continuing story of Nang’s legacy open “Nang’s Story” where you can find todays five new Peery photos.

 I OFTEN talk about The Rotary Club of Beaudesert and the meetings. I took the above photo and the next few at the weekly meeting of May 16 2017. Many in the club have visited our Kamchay Mear villages. Mark and Linda have been six times. Linda was not at this meeting (on a trip with Rotary Exchange Students).

In the photo above you see Shane Page who is our Club President until Susan Page takes over for a year starting in July (yes… Shane’s wife). EVERYONE in the following Club photos supports our School projects either with individual donations – and/or working with others – see later – to raise money.

Kathy is sitting – everyone has projects or charities that they might choose to concentrate on, either within Rotary or with another organisation … or just on their own. One of Kathy’s favourite charities she works hard with, is for women fighting Cancer – ‘Chicks Conquering Cancer’.

Lesley, standing, supports everything… eg at this precise time a group of possibly six of us including Lesley and Kathy .. and Mark,Linda and I  are working towards a Showcase day in a park for all our local clubs and sports.

At the end of the table is Jeff who I’ll talk about later!

 The village children know Tamara. Tamara is also in four more photos today (increasingly tired, I might add, because she had had many long hard days at University and her jobs…. see for yourself… poor Tamara…)

Back to Jeff – there is Jeff standing – Jeff is next year’s Trasurer.. Jeff helps with everything. When I arrive in the villages next month I will have two new mobile phones donated by Jeff personally – for village use.

 especially for Khmer friends.. Mark is on the left and Tamara with her glass.

 Mark, Keith and Doug… and ‘Hello Tamara’.

As I often mention, Mark Jackson is of huge help to us in Kamchay Mear. Mark and his wife Linda (not here tonight) are enormous individual donors and helpers to both the schools AND the village families. Mark and Linda have visited the villages six times. In January 2018 they will be with us, along with Lauren for 2 weeks for ‘school maintenance.

Keith is sitting next to Mark. Keith supports EVERY Rotary project in every way he can. (Keith is the absolute King of selling raffle tickets.)

Next to Keith is Doug, who over all our 9 years – we are starting our tenth year in the villages – has supported us over and over again – always knowing the right thing to purchase for us.. A well known photo of one of our classes has a GLOBE right on the front desk… Doug’s idea.

 In this photo, Lauren is standing to talk. Lauren has been to the villages three times and next January will be her fourth visit…… Both Lauren and Tamara are twenty years old… both joined at age 18.

LAUREN IS 20 YEARS OLD TODAY (the day of this post) – MAY 22 2017 – HAPPY BIRTHDAY

In the photo above, the lady sitting in the corner, on Lauren’s left is Susan Page our next President (see one of the photos above featuring the top table)… Again – Susan helps us in any way she can… Over several years, Susan kept us well supplied with medicines!

Kevin in the Club Shirt of Blue and Yellow has also been to our Schools. see the photo below for a sentence on Kevin’s huge contribution to the Club.

 In the foreground is Peter – Peter’s Church Group donated money to our Schools a few years ago… Peter does a lot of voluntary work in the Solomon Islands.

Behind Peter is David.. we know David well in our main village. David does a lot of charity fund raising with The Endeavour Foundation.

Behind David is Doug and hidden behind Doug is his wife Joy. Doug and Joy are also well known in our Villages.

At the back of this photo are Geoff (right) and Dennis, both of whom work hard particularly with Kevin in organisising, maintaining and running our catering van – our main fund raiser.

 From behind the ‘top table’ .. Jeff is in the bottom left of the photo (also in an earlier photo with Tamara. Jeff is next years Treasurer. Mark J has been our Treasurer for a number of hard working years)….. The village also knows Peter and Chris who are not in this photo – Peter was Treasurer before Mark!.. Peter and Chris have moved and have left our Club but still visit when they can.

Three more people missing from this meeting are also major donors (‘Major Donor’ is more than $500).. Corrinne who was with us right from before the beginning. It was Corrinne who suggested we should approach Beaudesert Rotary for help!!…. and Peter and Susie who are up there with the biggest of major donors! Peter paid for the village tuk tuk (The Peter Greenwell Tuk Tuk) and supports teachers salaries.

 so…. I’ve started packing

50 TEDDY BEARS excited that they are coming with me on June 15 to find homes in our Kamchay Mear villages in Cambodia. They were a bit scared as I started to suck the life of them but were cheerily reassured that they would all breathe as new as soon as we arrive in Chuor Ph’av Village.
The Teddies will be accompanied on the journey by lots of baby clothes.. The Teddy Bears and heaps of hats and jumpers were all knitted and given by the wonderful ladies of Koorlabyn in Australia. EVERYTHING made of cotton or Polyester is made ridiculously cheaply in Cambodia.. every brand you can think of from Armani to Yves St Lauren – plus all the branded training shoes – but knitted goods aren’t made in Cambodia.

… remove the air and they are the same weight but occupy much less space!

 The 4 vacuum sealed bags are a fraction of the original size (obviously, they weigh the same) and I should be able to get these bags into one big strong ‘stripey’ holdall.
I remain in Australia to help with The Rotary Club of Beaudesert’s Showcase of the Council’s area Clubs, Sports and activities in Jubilee Park on Sunday June 11 and then leave for our Schools and villages.

We’ll write to you again soon from Cambodia,





37 photos taken by Ren Soth, Chanthou and Marion of Le9 Theatre in Avignon, France.

In CategoryJohns blog

We will start with introductory notes for all first time visitors to our website:

(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 -”

IN MY ABSENCE, getting successful medical care in Australia. one of our teachers has been taking photos and telling me the schools are going well. (I’ll be back in the villages soon)

“We need a lot of building maintenance but the children are all at school.” says Ren Soth

Indeed we know about maintenance needs and I’ll talk about our precise needs in a few more weeks from now.. But for example, everyone of our nineteen doors needs serious help, most blackboards are beyond repair and every building NEEDS paint exterior and interior.


 This is the only photo today that was taken in early February while I was still in The Schools. Note to self  – “did you know that the children didn’t know which way to look”?

 Ren with his son on our School corridor.

 The only good blackboard out of twelve blackboards.


Ren’s grade 2 class ( Morning shift)



Flower gardens run in front of all our classrooms (vegetables (khmer greens and stream plants) are grown at home and brought in)



I wish I’d been there but Chanthou and the teachers were perfect hosts – Marion and her husband from Avignon visited the School. Marion is a good friend of Hilary and Le9 Theatre in Avignon, France. They are grouped in Sok Ken’s (head teacher to the right) office cum Clinic.


The first photo above was taken by Marion earlier this month and the second was taken on the same day – Marion with her husband.

. Ren took this photo. Since our very first year we have taken photos of salaries being presented between teachers. Ren took this photo.



If you have been with us or visited us or know this site, then you know Chanthou. Chanthou is our coordinator in Cambodia. There are many many photos of Chanthou and of her family and friends within this site.

The first set of photos are of Danni’s wedding. Danni was our first House Keeper of the Guesthouse (now it’s Chanthai). Several years ago I bought Danni out of a very inappropriate marriage. (as in “GO AWAY” and to seal the farewell here’s $400).. That marriage was annulled under Cambodian Buddhist Law. Lets hope that this marriage – photos below – is a good one.


 The ‘reception’ marquee is next to the Guesthouse with the all day services/ceremonies happening on the upper floor of the Guesthouse. Those of you who know the Guesthouse can orientate yourselves and for everyone else there are a great many Guesthouse photos through the last three years of posts.

 Food was prepared in several places – this is under Ayees house opposite. Ayee is Danni’s mother and is a very poor widowed sister of Chanthou. Fortunately both for Ayee’s family and for us Ayee lives directly across the track from the Guesthouse. Everyone helps everyone.

 On the upper floor (see part of our mattress storage) preparing  the ceremony area.

 The main upper sleeping area  makes a a GREAT wedding setting. The guesthouse is a very traditional building in appearance as well as quality – made from various Cambodian hard woods Those columns, shaped octagonally are an incredible 5 metres of the strongest hardwood (see construction posts earlier). See that cushion? you will see it again soon.

 The chief monk or priest or Abbot I suppose of our local temple (Wat) – a Wat is where monks live, but as long time readers will know, the wat is also our village 24 hour a day temple and Community centre and and centre of, as it were, social work. The chief monk is one of my close friends in the village and I keep him supplied with small cigars. In Cambodia, yes Monks and Nuns do not drink alcohol and are celibate but they are allowed to smoke – much to the amusement of visitors. My monk is selective – cigars!

 Meanwhile in the Guesthouse grounds the food is cooked for perhaps 200 people – everyone contributes.



Look above at meat preparation especially…. but it IS delicious.


 Maigin  the Bridesmaid welcoming you inside.

 Various ceremonies throughout the day. Maigin in her day Clothes. Danni the beautiful Bride.

 and with two of Chanthou’s children – the boy Kumheang and Sokleah one of the identical twins.

 last one – the ceremony from the centre of our upper floor.


A big THANK YOU to Ren Soth, Chanthou and Marion for today’s photos. John.














Lauren with us for 33 days: Fairs: Dentist: A balloon trip: Lauren dressed by her new friends: Our 4 metre wide village tracks becoming 20 metre wide roads! Visit to Sihanoukville and visit to a hospital.

In CategoryJohns blog


We will start with an introductory paragraph for all first time visitors to our website:

“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 -”

Hello from our villages in the Kamchay Mear District in Prey Veng Province, Cambodia. It has been a truly remarkable month. Lauren, from The Rotary Club of Beaudesert, Australia arrived on December 3oth and will leave on February 2nd.

So, Lauren has been here for all of the month covered but THIS post. THE whole month – every day – has been dominated by quite incredible and unprecedented road works covering most of our villages. I have been heavily involved in all the discussions, and negotiating (you’ll see why!!). I posted the previous post on January 1st and on that day there was no sign or whisper of what was to come.

Today’s post includes 100 photos and lots of notes. This is roughly how today’s ‘chapters’ share the photos:

1. Full Moon village fair, hosted by us (our school) and The Wat (temple cum Community Centre).

2. Lauren visits THE Dentist – yes Bophal Uch, you!

3. A Balloon over Angkor Wat.

4. Chanthou and Lauren go to a wedding and the guests dressing Lauren.

5. A significant note from a friend of Lauren and Lauren’s reply. Well done Lauren.

6. Photos and notes on a story of belief and growth. Belief (and knowledge) that we are growing as a group of villages and subsequent MASSIVE growth in our local road network and – WHY?!

7. Koh Pich (Diamond Island) huge fairgound on an island within The Mekong in Phnom Penh.

8. Yet more never ending de-lousing in the villages.

9.The train trip to Sihanoukville.

10. Dinner in Phnom Penh.

11. Calmette Hospital.

1. Within the combined grounds of our Schools in Chuor Ph’av village. A Bon (fair). We estimate 5000 visitors from our surrounding villagers.

It is very low cost and a LOT of basic old fashioned fair ground games and rides.                                                                                 Note the fly paper – sticky paper hanging near sweet food – flies stick to the paper. 

Lauren tries her hand at darts – burst a balloon and win a prize.                       Lauren at the head of a train. Soklep sits behind her and Chanthou shouts encouragement.   Choosing their prizes. How about this for a Rotisserie?!  Rotisserie?? Small birds. Getting ready for entertainment from the stage  Nicely illuminated next to the entrance. Beaudesert Rotary Club.

Chapter 2. THE Dentist.


As we’ve often said Dr Bophal Uch is our worlds number one Dentist. (remember, Bophal did all of Chanthai’s implants (and mine!) ) Lauren had several attempts in Australia to fix a chipped tooth. Fixed in Phnom Penh! (also see Chanthai’s own section within “village children” to the left of your screen.

Chapter 3. High over Angkor Wat.


Chanthou and Lauren travelled to Siem Reap by bus. The tethered balloon rises with this spectacular view of Angkor Wat. (Meanwhile I stayed behind in the villages to monitor ROAD activities. see chapter 6 below.)

Chapter 4. Off to a wedding.

                 Lauren is the lady on the left (both women in blue). A Cambodian wedding lasts from 6am to 11pm. Ceremony after ceremony with many dresses and lots of eating and drinking. So, Lauren’s new friends dressed her and made her up as a bride…….Yes it IS Lauren.


Chapter 5.

A screenshot from Lauren’s Facebook.

A friend of Lauren writes ‘you do a fantastic job and so much to be proud of’…. Lauren replies….

Chapter 6. The Roads .

4 metres wide to 20 metres wide. This is such huge news, I have included EVERY photo I took – partly for historical reasons.


There are no maps that include detail of our area so I’ve filled the void with a hand drawn diagram. The main road runs west to east and eventually to the Vietnam border to the east. Our roads, through every local village were all four metres wide. Every house frontage had coconut trees and mango trees and a bamboo fence and some (like us) had walls and gates. The second PHOTO ABOVE shows the road and vegetation prior to January 1st. 4 metres wide

Prior to January 1st we had no idea at all that road building or expansion was about to happen.

ALL the people are VERY accepting. There is no avenue for disagreement and there is no compensation for land or fruit trees etc – but the news spread that we will be getting a good huge gravel road and ELECTRICITY – so power poles are next! On the first few days, cattle, pigs and chickens were running everywhere. Fences are mostly not rebuilt yet so dogs are unsure of their territory and everything else just roams. BUT everyone is still smiling.

The 4 metre wide roads or rather, tracks, have become 20 metre wide roads and in most cases all of the front gardens, coconut trees and mango trees have all gone. In addition, for the necessary soil to build up some height for the new road, everyone has given the soil from their own properties – the road builders simply digging it out of remaining land either in front of houses or to their sides.

Through three villages and hundreds of houses only two fences or walls remain standing. The one big way we kept our Guesthouse wall was to pay the home owner opposite us to buy some of their land so it could be used for road fill, otherwise they would have knocked our wall down. I am having good talks with the Government they tell me that they are delighted with our “Schools, their growth and our generosity and kindness”. …. which I believe gives something of a clue as to why this vast road is happening!….. more within this photo album.


The two photos above show Chanthou’s mother’s home and it’s where I stayed during all my visits before The Guesthouse was built. I paid for that wall. Not only has the good wall and gate gone but also a row of coconut trees and mango trees.



Clearing a 20 metre wide path through a tiny village causes ….. damage.


But everyone is still smiling. Above is Cheng with Mab’s son Songha and Nang’s 8 year old daughter Peery (see Nang’s story to your left.) Smiling even though Cheng has just lost her fruit trees and coconut trees , two walls and a fence.


and in the midst of it all the children play.


You can see where the 4 metre wide track was (within the 20 metres) yesterday.


and the children play – this time downstairs at The Guesthouse.


Ayee, opposite, lost coconut trees and a Mango tree as well as her fence

We paid the road builders to replant her coconut trees inside our wall. Ayee can harvest most of the coconuts for herself.

And once planted, the same machine does the watering.


We only JUST retained our wall. It will be road right up to our wall.

 Everything cleared right up to Bits little house. (Bit is one of ‘the three friends’ – see the left end of the website banner and her own section within ‘village children’).


The building on the left is The Guesthouse.                   AND we get Ayee’s displaced Mango tree.

Chanthou and Ayee water Ayee’s Mango tree – and it will remain Ayees tree, but I’m sure we will benefit not only from having a happy neighbour but probably a few juicy mangos


EVERY house provides, in addition to losing land for road width, huge amounts of soil to give the 20 metre road its required height……..


… except for us. We have paid Ayee to provide our quota of soil – which is twice as much as most properties because of our double rice field frontage!

NOW – scroll back up for a minute to the hand drawn map. Look at the southern end of the new wide section (drawn in red on the map) Chanthai will take us for a photographic ride from this end, through much of Chuor Ph’av, right past the School, then left (as in due north for a straight 8 kilometres till the new road joins the highway. In that last 8 klm stretch you see the final volcanic stone surface. [ The scooter is technically mine from a few years ago but it lives at The Guesthouse and along with The Peter Greenwell tuk tuk is used as an essential vehicle. Those people who know me personally or have a good memory of these website posts – don’t worry, I NEVER drive it… passenger yes. Falling off got very boring and painful.]

I walk back a few metres to the actual southern start (Chanthai in the mid distance.)


We have turned right and are passing the School with the new entrance. (Mab and Peery are on the motorbike. Peery has finished morning shift school – there are two completely different shifts of children to accommodate all our children.)


..and two villages later we turn left for the 8 kilometre long home stretch to the highway.

This is the finished surface with the photo below giving a closer look at the volcanic surface.

In the west we take pipes and concreted culverts for granted. This is very impressive for our villages.

An eventually we join the main road and EAST would take us to Vietnam and then China.

.. and we head back down the 8 klm stretch (past a lotus farm on the left.)


Rice last year was at a very low price and so a number of more adventurous farmers are trying lotus plants. The roots fetch good money and the blossoms too if only they get them or could get them to a good market or airport

and last we look at the places from where the builders are taking ‘build up’ soil.

WHY are we getting this incredible upgrade? We don’t know yet…but we have a clue. Scroll back up to the southern start where Chanthai is with the scooter – A lot of land has been bought near the road….. electricity will be going in …. at the moment we are guessing – ‘factory’…. we might well be wrong.. but it fits.. A huge pool of people with no jobs and a need in nearby Vietnam or China to expand.. If we are right it means 1000s of jobs for people who we don’t or can’t help into university or good jobs is one of our towns.

Chapter 7. Koh Pich (Diamond Island).


Koh Pich literally means Island Diamond… Diamond Island sits within the HUGE Mekong River in Phnom Penh and has Conference rooms, Reception and Dance halls and a VERY big fairground. If you search carefully you’ll find Chanthou and Lauren on this ‘chicken’ swing.

Chapter 8. De-lousing again and again and again.


This problem simply doesn’t leave us. There are several de-lousing photos within this website. They all help each other. Sometimes they even sit in circles – doing the hair of the person in front of them.

Chapter 9. The train trip to Sihanoukville.

For almost all Khmer people trains are a new experience. Prior to the Khmer Rouge years there was an extensive rail syestem. Pol Pot destroyed the entire network of rail lines, except for a tiny stretch in the west on which locals built a bamboo train. It was a petrol operated little engine moving a bamboo bed cum carpet on wheels. (lots of photos of the Bamboo train on the internet)

Now from Phnom Penh (brand new NOW) a passenger and a freight train run south, calling in at Takeo and Kampot on the way to the seaside resort of Sihanoukville. US $7 each way and it was packed with people trying out the new thing!


People wlked up and down the aisle selling Cambodian treats. It was a very enjoyable seven hours. The three photos above show Takeo Station and its platform (and our train).. No cafeteria as such but lots of things to eat (similar to our Schools tuck shops.)

Oh dear OH DEAR – we hadn’t reckoned on Chinese New Year with most Phnom Penh workers laid off for 5 days (no pay)…. THIS IS THE BEACH AT SIHANOUKVILLE.

We eventually found a less packed bit. This, from left to right, is – Sokleah, Chanthai, Lauren and Chanthou.


and one terrible (sky darkening) photo of Soklep and Chanthai in an innertube.

Chapter 10. Dinner back in Phnom Penh.

Crab and prawns. You dont travel to Sihanoukville for one night – but we did. The town was so packed that the only room not booked had no window, no television and cold water and cost US$50.. Anywhere else and on any other day this room would have cost $5. So we got up early and caught a bus back to Phnom Penh.

Chapter 11. Calmette Hospital.



We finish this post with my favourite Hospital. The Doctors are wonderful but with limited resources.. …. It was Nang’s Hospital – I wrote about it extensively in ‘Nang’s Story’ left of your screen. Dr Suy, Nang’s incredible Doctor (and now mine) works here.

A boy from our village was brought by his family, first to Prey Veng town where they couldn’t treat him and then on, by 100cc motorbike to Calmette in Phnom Penh. Appendicitis. They operated successfully that night and we saw him the next night (yesterday) Lauren very interested in all this and was very pleased that he was getting penicillin.

I hope you enjoyed today’s unusual post – lots yet to unfold regarding WHY we have suddenly got a 20 metre wide road that starts in our main village. The Government has so far shared with me that everyone is very happy with the success of our schools and size of our population.

……mmm…. more to come, obviously.

Lots more to come as it happens, love from John and everyone in the villages.







Happy New Year – January 1st 2017

In CategoryJohns blog

A lot today – January 1st – starting with France!

A name to know for 2017 – Le9 Theatre Avignon –

If you look back through the years, the place, Antibes, features time and time again – through my dearest friend Hilary, the people of the Cote d’Azur in the South of France helped us an incredible amount – Hilary was with us from THE BEGINNING – and still is very much with us – as in side by side and hand in hand! Hilary and her wonderful husband J P have moved to Avignon and opened the ‘Le 9 Theatre’ which they have built WITHIN their house – December 20th was Inauguration Night!

A lot more to over the coming months, but ….

… THE PROGRAMME for January and February.. Whether you are French, English, Australian (or anywhere else) you will recognise talent, experience, skill…. an awesome line-up. Those of you with Facebook can find the Page (brand new, as you will see) ‘like’ it and follow developments.


YESTERDAY – December 31st we collected Lauren from Phnom Penh International Airport. Lauren will be with us for 33 days. It is Lauren’s third visit but the other two visits were both for just two nights; Lauren came with groups from The Rotary Club of Beaudesert in Australia, So this time – by herself for 33 nights…. Lots more over the weeks! (The three of us go back to the villages tomorrow.)



 I posted these three photos of Chanthay on Facebook on December 22. I’ll copy and paste the story that went with these photos.

“We have known Chanthay (known as Tay) since the beginning. She has her own section within ‘village children’ within the website (Find Village Children in the index on the left of your screen.)
This is about as good as health care gets in our villages.
She has a high temp, sweating and rapid pulse. This is basically THE treatment. I have paid for two bottles of sugar and saline with multi vits.
The next stage would be take her from our villages (the school and our guesthouse double as clinics) to a district clinic then to the provincial hospital. None of these places would do a blood or urine test or ANYTHING ELSE. …. and the next step, if the patient is still alive, is the big children’s hospital n Phnom Penh or my favourite – Calmette hospital that looked after Nang. Nang has her own section in the web site . Dr Tour Suy in Phnom Penh looked after Nang and now looks after me.
So back to Chanthay. The infusion will run through; the doctor will not return (our nurse might – yes we have a registered nurse graduate from OUR School ) the family will pull out the needle and reuse the piping and valve to cool their family 100cc motorbike engine with drip fed water. – and no medical follow up unless I do it, which I will.”

….and then the following day….

 .. and under this photo of an improving Chanthay, I wrote, “Update on Chanthay: still got a mild fever but improving, I think. Given her ‘Nurofen for Children’.. I’ll check again in 4 hours.”

The following day I went to check on her in the morning and of her own accord she’d got up and walked to School!! Good – very good.

 Over Christmas I brought various sections to the left of your screen more up to date. This first photo above is again of Chanthay.. this time with her pig. I inserted all five of the photos here of Chanthay into Chanthay’s part of the ‘Village Children’ Page…..

 … and I inserted this photo of a very happy Chanthai into HER own section within the ‘Village Children’ Page….. If you scroll back to a post of November 23 2016 you will see lots about the visit from ‘Help – Cambodia Wagga Wagga” they donated almost a bus load of everything from clothes to books, to medical equipment and stationery… for the schools. We kept some of the books, stationery and hundreds of pairs of glasses in The Guesthouse for distribution and a store within The Guesthouse.

Chanthai has become “housekeeper’, of the Guesthouse and in this photo is enjoying drawing and painting. So – again -Chanthai has her own Village Children section and this photo is now edited within.

All of Peery’s recent photos are also edited into her late mother’s section – Nang’s Story.


There was a wedding in Chuor Ph’av on December 19. (It was the wedding of Warn’s daughter, Jennine. Warn is our number one builder of Schools – he also shaped the remarkably beautiful octagonal Guesthouse Columns.)

Within this website there are a number of sets of wedding photos with their stories (and funerals).. TODAY I will only show some photos of food preparation (above and below) for the wedding of Warn’s daughter.


 (every part of the animal.) 

The rice is harvested and for the few weeks of December and early January it is the most practical; time for weddings – the Dry Season is happening which means that there is almost no rain – the temperature is a relatively cool 28C during the day and as low as 18 – 20C at night, low humidity and fewer mosquitos. A lot of people who usually work away from the villages in garment factories and in fish and chicken processing factories across the south west border in Thailand are in our villages because they have helped with the rice harvest AND they know weddings are about to happen.

{I have explained over the years that unlike in the west or even in Japan and Korea, there is no sign of any decline in rural populations in Cambodia.. (our school numbers rise every year  in our villages)..Why? – Village structure is central to Cambodian Society – 1. There are no lengthy holidays in Cambodia; there are many 2-4 day Buddhist HOLY days during which the cities empty and everyone returns home for family and village events. 2.To get work ID, a passport or permission to marry, it has to be done through the village leaders. SO 80% of Cambodians actually reside in rural villages, not in cities…. Coming home for village weddings is what happens.}


 Village weddings are incredible, huge events – involving everyone. Everyone volunteers time and labour and if they can’t afford the US$1.25 entrance fee (centred in and around the girl’s parents house) they will pay with a bag of rice and perhaps a fish or vegetables. The $1.25 pays for food, drink and musicians. Cows, pigs and chickens are killed and butchered overnight and cooking of ALL of the animals from head to foot starts in the very early hours – the parts of a complex marriage service start at 6am and finish at 11pm.

 I love this little photo of Peesay collecting her empty cans….

…. Like Peesay in the photo, all the children benefit in a big way at big village parties: Adults don’t collect the empty beer cans; instead, they merely drop them on the floor – that is a signal to a nearby child to add the can to their string.

Anything and everything is recycled in rural Cambodia – aluminium cans is the easy one!! The children get 2 cents for every three cans… and that adds up!

Happy New Year from John, OUR children, their families, teachers, Chanthou AND Lauren who is here for 33 days.













In CategoryJohns blog


Exactly eight years ago this was our Christmas miracle photo.. if you have read Nang’s story (on the left of screen) you will know the miracle after miracle of her young life. The baby is Peery.

 Then three years ago I took this photo immediately after Peery’s first day at School – Peery is TEACHING her mother her first ever lesson in reading and writing her own language. Peery was four years and six months old. (Nang and all the villagers never got the chance of SCHOOL). A few weeks later, Nang died

 Peery with her candle.

AND TODAY Christmas Day 2016 Peery wanted to show me she can fly. I said of course you can fly . “show me”..

I am more exhausted than she is as she jumps her rope a hundred times and I move as fast as I can to take another photo – faltering? Never.. Do it again and again ..


And that is a rock hard dirt floor. (a lot more photos in my camera today).

Now …. please – take a look at these portraits of concentration:

..children where no family member before them had ever been to school… all the villages CAN give them is love – and encouragement beyond dreams. All photos are my favourites but I do like this one of the little boy ( from a couple of years ago) just trying 100%.


I posted earlier in the year about our accidental discovery of the success of slate. When there are 100 children in your class – with a sea of slate held up for the teacher to see it’s MUCH easier to correct individual mistakes.

I have a large number of new photos and stories but I think that’s enough for this Christmas Day – There will be a few more at New Year.

Merry Christmas and Love to everyone from all the children, their families and me, John.





It’s Christmas time – and in our desperately poor corner of Kamchay Mear in Cambodia – there are miracles.

In CategoryJohns blog

Dear friends – new friends and older friends – from everywhere. (Its a BIG post this Christmas..)

In today’s BIG post I think we have given a comprehensive, thorough  view of, at the very least, a day in School.

We will start with an introductory paragraph for all first time visitors to our website:

“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.. As of today 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). ‘Paypal’ donations go through The Rotary Club of Beaudesert in Australia and onto us in Cambodia with no money whatsoever taken from your donated amount. There’s lots of advice on the site about what money can buy for our children ... so now – today’s post -”

 As is with all the School photos below this first photo was taken on December 7th in one of our classrooms at the Chuor Ph’av campus of school buildings.

(Whether you are a first time browser, are from Rotary anywhere in the world, or from France, Britain, Beaudesert, New South Wales or Victoria or ELSEWHERE – whether you give A LOT or SOME.. there will be something here for you today – there is a paragraph showing the clear separation of Schools and Guesthouse and indeed who owns what.. AND a paragraph on ‘miracles’.)

In 2008, the year that we started our first school, The United Nations released a report entitled “Sex Slavery in The Lower Mekong” – our precise region was one of the worlds major sources of girls sold into slavery.

At the openings of the Beaudesert School and the Captains Choice Schools and the Antibes (France) buildings – girls from Phnom Penh’s sex bars almost flooded home to make sure that all their sisters went to school – a chance that none of them ever had.

With, at any one time, and currently, over 600 girls (and 600 boys) attending our Schools, local knowledge says that not one girl (or boy) has been sold or given to sex slavery since our Schools opened… One of the reasons is the simple fact that they are with each other and their teachers during most daylight hours and secondly, their education includes ‘rights and wrongs’… and they gain useful skills – the ability to read and write their own language and do arithmetic.

These School photos today  were all taken on December 7 by either me or by one of our wonderful teachers, Ren Soth.

The school photos today show a full 10 hours of teaching in a single day – two five hour shifts each with different children but with the same teachers (and that is what happens, every day. We try to have several staggered breaks with children outside to reduce class sizes – You will see children in classes, on verandas, playing outside and in various classrooms.

After the school photos you will see the six monthly salary  being paid to our Cambodian teachers – some news with a photo of our old friend Josh follows – also photos of some individual children who some of you will recognise and a few pictures around The Guesthouse. There’s a paragraph or three on doing the impossible and a paragraph on ‘sponsoring or donating generally’. … Just bear in mind that before our first school building, absolutely no one in our villages had EVER been to school and prospects for both girls and boys were extremely bleak… bleak beyond imagination.

… so with no electricity, no plumbing, no piped water (outside the school) and almost zero health care here are today’s photos with their notes.

 6.30 in the morning – arriving at school.

  Sok Ken our very special Head Teacher in her office with Wey, one of our ten year old boys. Within our 1340 pupil roll we have a number of orphans but we do not and will not claim any orphanage status – indeed all our orphans live within family groups throughout our 12 feeder villages.


As you may have seen from posts earlier this year a Charity named Clear Water gave us tanks and a sand filtering system. We paid for a pump and separate water bore and the overall shed. It’s brilliant – the cleanest water by far for many miles in any direction. Photo one is Sok Ken, justifiably proud. The second photo is a row of boys with one of the teachers Ren Soth (who took several of today’s photos (Particularly the selfies!) … and the tiny boy? he is a malnourished 8 year old.. The fact that he is with us is a tiny miracle in itself.

I’ll divide today’s classroom photos into three sections. Here comes the first section but in no particular order:


There are two more groups of classroom photos later on… but next we will look at photos taken by the teacher Ren Soth… the fat old guy in one of them is me.


You can see Sok Ken (head teacher) on the veranda and in another photo, three teachers together! Sitting on the veranda is Rot who lives next door to The Guesthouse and brings me to School every day on his 100cc motorbike.


Next comes a second grouping of classroom photos – again, in no particular order. Remember at any one time there are children IN classrooms and others OUTSIDE to reduce class sizes… and this all happens twice a day with different children but the same teachers.

And now I’ll insert paying the teachers which we do twice a year – June and December (now)

 Next to Sok Ken’s (Head teacher) desk is Uk Sonita, one of our female teachers and Srey Samun to my left is one of our male teachers… We pay our Cambodian teachers. We hand them cash (money) and we send receipts to The Rotary Club of Beaudesert for accounting. Indeed if you donate to us for any purpose, we send you a receipt. We need to maintain our buildings and currently we really NEED three new classrooms – but we also need blackboards – a number of ideas are listed in the ‘Donate’ Page to your left.

 Every  Dollar  (Euro or Pound) we pay to our wonderful TEACHERS is the direct result of YOUR. hard work and  generosity – cooking and selling breakfasts, selling raffle tickets, running auctions, and basically ‘donating’ whatever it takes to help our children survive and then thrive – no one , NO ONE else is paid anything – just our teachers. No foreigners, no secretary no manager – just our  Cambodian teachers – and when we need them, local builders. We welcome suitable volunteers but they, by definition, are unpaid.

Back to the classrooms..

           We know ALL of our children and have known many of them from birth. The end classroom photo above features Chanthay and Maigin near the camera and here they are again a few days ago at The Guesthouse. A number of our children have their own sections within the website as we follow their lives – Chanthay is one such child. Chanthay’s section is within the Page (to the left of your screen) named Village Children.

Next just two photos of one of our miracle children – Peery.


If you don’t know Peery or her story you are in for quite an experience if you look to the left of your screen and find ‘Nang’s Story’. Peery and her mother Nang, featured 7 years ago as our Christmas Miracle – eventually, as you would read, Nang  died and we now care for Peery. (“we” being the village and specifically Jana from Beaudesert who was very much moved by her situation and me… and if you read Nang’s story you will clearly see why ‘me’.)  Peery is still one of our miracles.

{I’ll insert a paragraph right here on ‘sponsorship’ – we have asked for and received donations for specific needs … one good but unqualified teacher who we put through University…. Chanthai with smashed teeth – that was a combination of Pachem Dental Clinic in Phnom Penh and a Donation … Supporting a girl (Soit who should have been in School who  we rescued from slave like conditions on an island farm – we are still working through difficult visa issues for her further education).. BUT sponsorship for ALL our children?? – I don’t think so. Sponsorship of over 1000 individual children may sound OK in principle but with even the huge charities it becomes somewhat unworkable and then actually deceptive!.. i.e. we cannot have a few cute kids with money and others with no money  so in reality money becomes pooled and spent on village or school issues – and that is what we ask for – money for PROJECTS not USUALLY individual sponsorship. We have had one of our classes sending pictures and messages back and forth to a French School (Mougins near Antibes) and money then donated to us from that French School.. BUT on the whole we treat all our 1340 children the same.}

Meanwhile – on the veranda and outside….

 Very precious children who need our help and get our help.


We are about half way through the photos, so, a good time to talk about “miracles.”

The definition would include words such as ‘impossible’ ‘cannot be done’ ‘no physical or known way it could be done’.

Four years ago I approached a large group of US Military Doctors visiting to help the poor “throughout Cambodia”. I went to see them – had a meal with them. “Sorry, cannot help you, you are far too remote and difficult to get to.” Koh Kong 2012.

Three years ago I approached Medicine Sans Frontiers… I explained that we are remote and heavily populated and had extremely poor children with virtually zero medical help… “Where are you”? they asked.  I explained and the response was, “Sorry you are too remote and difficult for us to get to.”.. Phnom Penh 2014.

We do it ourselves. Lives are saved but most die far too young of absurdly simply problems that are cured in most of the world’s places.

We have stopped children from our region being sold.

We give a basic elementary education to a lot of boys and girls.

……who performs these miracles?..People from Antibes and Avignon in France (Hilary from France has been amazing from the beginning), Surrey, Kent,Somerset and Avon in England, New York… hundreds of people in Beaudesert and Queensland Australia, Northern and Southern New South Wales, Croydon in Melbourne (Phil Asker from Melbourne paid for TWO Schools – Captains Choice .. and many other miracle workers everywhere.. WITHOUT YOU THERE ARE NO MIRACLES.

 two teachers  with a clever but malnourished ten year old. We will help her.

 With our school bell!! 



 A very welcome bread delivery at The Tuck Shop.

… and back inside the classrooms ….


Then, back home after a very long day for each teacher. Me? Back the one kilometre to The Guesthouse.



We own none of our school buildings; once we build them, on Cambodian Government land, they become standard Cambodian Government Schools. We, through donations, pay salaries to the teachers, buy text books and exercise books and maintain the buildings.

Children, their families, the villages, Local, Provincial (State) and National Government are VERY grateful to us… that is all of us… all of us, you, reading this and helping.


The Guesthouse was built entirely with money donated for that purpose by Mark and Linda Jackson of Beaudesert with a little help from me. It was a tax deductible donation and went through the books of Rotary International – receipts etc etc. The Guesthouse is for visiting donors, sponsors, volunteer Nurses, Medical personnel, volunteer teachers and students from overseas. Not one cent of your donations go to The Guesthouse – it runs on money received from Guests… Indeed if and when we receive money in excess of running The Guesthouse, that will go to The Schools.


The Guesthouse Wall and The School Bus:

I took these photos of – ‘The School Bus’ – on November 30. Look behind the three girls in the first photo….

Beaudesert Rotary Club donated the Rotary Hoe (yes it IS a ROTARY hoe in the background) to the villages for everyone’s use with us in charge!! It is used for ploughing, raking, fetching, carrying and everyday it is used as a ‘school bus’ for children at the far ends of this village and the next two villages..Most children however either walk or have a bicycle.

These children, above, were on the bus and have stopped by to say ‘hello’.
Peter Greenwell of Beaudesert Rotary donated a tuk tuk (seen in MANY photos over the past two years) – the tuk tuk is used for hundreds of things but primarily for getting older children to High School….

… and on this side of The Guesthouse wall we find –

 … we find Sokleah and Soklep, the twins with Chanthai in the middle. They with other locals clean and cook at The Guesthouse. You might remember Chanthai from posts a couple of years ago in which Jana (our good Beaudesert friend) paid for inplants to replace all her front teeth top and bottom which had been smashed at age 8 in an accident.. Our favourite Dentist Bophal Uch in Phnom Penh heavily subsidised the cost. Chanthai is another child with her own section within the ‘page’ on the left of your screen titled ‘Village Children’. The twins belong to Chanthou and also feature often through the site. We pay them to work and give them their ‘uniforms.’

Just before we say “Good night,” at this time of Miracles, two more pieces of news:

 This is me with Josh – Josh Lowry – we had coffee in Phnom Penh in late November. Josh came to our villages a few years ago with a group from the Rotary Club of Beaudesert. Josh was inspired and works with a Childrens’ fund in Phnom Penh. Josh is VERY Information Technology savvy and what’s more he owns very good ‘drone’ with video camera!!! AND at some point during January (next month) Josh will come for his second visit to the villages and apart from saying hello again to the children, Josh will send his Drone over the homes, fields and School for some filming – very exciting.. We’ll post it here when it happens.

So… ‘miracles’?

perhaps part of the definition might be impossible to explain rationally… or doing the seemingly impossible.

Passion and belief from around the world… and hard work – difficult, even in retrospect, to comprehend the amounts of hard work that go into all of this.. hard work raising money in Europe and Australia and hard work here making sure we are doing what is needed.

So now it’s time for “Merry Christmas” from our children and I mean OUR children.

   This is the only Christmas tree for miles around; it’s on The Guesthouse balcony… no one celebrates Christmas here but as I have said at previous Christmas times, perhaps they do … and I am certain that we are surrounded by miracles.

Yes, our miracles require a lot of unbelievable hard work from a great many people.. Rotary everywhere, especially Beaudesert… Captains Choice of Melbourne… Hilary, European Queen from Antibes and now in Avignon… Ros, Roland and Eva, Jana.. sorry I started this attempt at a list; the list is enormous but you get some hint of an idea by finding the ‘Donors’ list to the left of you screen.

Love to everyone from John and all the children, their families and their teachers.











Wonderful Wagga Wagga… children…. donations … hopes and plans… rice harvested

In CategoryJohns blog

There are, at the moment 70 photos with their notes and stories.

Dear friends – new and old…and young and elderly… This is a wonderfully important post today (aren’t they all important?) It has been more than two months since our last update. I am writing this from a very wet Cambodia. Today’s blog has a lot in it. A visit from amazing friends in Wagga Wagga, Australia, the rice harvest, extra School news and new photos of old friends. The Website, 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.. As of today 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). ‘Paypal’ donations go through The Rotary Club of Beaudesert in Australia and onto us in Cambodia with no money whatsoever taken from your donated amount. There’s lots of advice on the site about what money can buy for our children and indeed there is a new need outlined in TODAY’S post, now, below



Today some photos will be VERY similar to others – that is so that our Wagga friends can select and save whatever they like.


A group of 18 plus their  Khmer guide, Sreymom, and Chanthou and Chanthou’s friend Trob travelled through four hours of mud ina 35 seater bus and four 1200cc  Harley Davidsons to Chuor Ph’av village.

On their bus was also an enormous amount of clothing and toy donations together with lots of cartons of school books, glasses, and a sack of infusion equipment (medical).

There was no way that the bus was going to make it past our front gate so to the rescue came our wonderful ever useful tuk tuk. We took the seats out to load all the luggage through the mud for the last few metres inside.. AND THEN we put the seats back in and packed the tuk tuk twice with all the people for the trip to the SCHOOL. The four Harleys all played taxi back and forth to the school as well.. (indeed later in the day and in the early morning both the tuk tuk and the Harleys ferried people for a look round the village.




So, we travelled by tuk tuk and Harley to the School – which was closed for a National Holiday (Water Festival) (We did however meet up with lots of children in and around The Guesthouse over the 24 hour period of their stay) –

–          I took these three photos earlier and they show the need that is written about in the September blog below this one.

–          We have 9 classrooms and 1340 children. We are in serious need of three extra classrooms ie one building.

–          The Wagga club is considering helping us in our villages.

–          The building would go across the end wall directly opposite the entrance gate and be exactly where the UNESCO swings are. We will move and refurbish the swings and slide to the entrance end of the School.

–          The long low wall is not on any boundary which means there is as much room as we need for the new building.


 It’s evening and time for one of my favourite menu items – Chicken ginger stir fry with local herbs, spices and green – and yes it WAS  enjoyed. Sreymom came with the Wagga group as their Guide and was and is a very popular person. we prepared dinner for around thirty people.

  Chicken ginger with local herbs, spices and greens.

 yes it was yummy.


and now a group of evening’photos.         

….. a good evening …

 This next group of photos starts at an earlier part of the evening      


‘HelpCambodia gave our children and families a huge quantity of clothes and just take a look at the GLASSES….


 All these glasses from Wagga Wagga are new. We have spent the past week going from village to village for people who have never had glasses before to try them on. REMEMBER that as yet medical care in our District is certainly among the worst in Cambodia and we officially have the six poorest villages nationally.

    boxes of clothes  were sorted from all the school goods and clothes distributed through the school to families

 cartons and packages of exercise books and reading books were given to SokKen our head teacher for distribution and safe keeping. Sokken is a brilliant Head teacher. There are photos of her through this website and later on down today’s posting.

.One of our Wagga HelpCambodia friends showing one of the children about puzzles. 

 Lots of sporting and playthings. This is Nang’s daughter Peery with one of the balls.

There’s a great photo of Peery later down the page with a  balloon and drawing.


older members of families who have NEVER BEFORE tried on a pair of glasses – incredible stuff.



We have  always had police security within the Guesthouse. One of our truly good policemen took the ammunition out of his gun to let this member of the amazing visitors pose with his gun. Why do we need security? our villages are in a heavily populated  remote and dirt poor region. The Cambodian Government requires that we pay for police security when any foreigners are in our villages.

 children discovering things

 out of sequence but internet is soooo weak I’m not going to move ‘Chris with children!!

 on the Guesthouse balcony sorting through donated clothes.. I LOVE THIS PHOTO.

  getting the upper floor ready for mattresses. We eventually comfortably slept 30 people that night and even a couple of the men who preferred hammocks downstairs had mosquito nets.

 preparing to leave the following morning.

 The group from Help Cambodia – Wagga..(minus a few and perhaps the Harley guys are still packing.)


The Harley teams say Bye for now

.With or without the extra three room building, The Cambodian Government is sending us three extra teachers to help our children. The Government will pay the US$2.50 per day and we pay a ‘salary supplement’ of US$1 because we are ‘so extremely remote and disadvantaged’.. one of those teachers starts in December, the other two in January. The Wagga guys have handed me US$366 to cover one of the extra teachers for a year. Thankyou.



 SokKen our Head teacher of all 1340 children came to talk through her hopes. She needs those classrooms

She loved the Wagga group. “pros laor.. Srey laor” Good men. Good women.

 Help Cambodia – Wagga pulled out all the stops. Wagga Commonwealth Bank donated stationery and pencils. The school has them all except for Peery and her balloon and a pen.

 Australians will recognise this tee shirt. Donated by the group. (Don’t drop litter) This is Chanthai who is my big worker and cook. Chanthai lives downstairs ( no parents and is our main cook and cleaner. It is Chanthai of the new teeth in a post a year or so ago)


The group left early morning on November 15. By midday the entire ground floor was covered by drying rice from five families. Flat, dry and protected – an ideal place for drying the harvest for three days before on selling. The one crop of the year.

 rice drying in every village household.

 The rice is then put into bags and will each weigh about 80kg.

 Each bag is weighed by the buyer and the household. The Family  is paid $16 for an 80 kg sack of rice…. YES $16 for 80kg.

 and on to the next part of the journey to our supermarket shelves.  Families store a years supply of rice for their own use.

 The rice straw is stored for animal feed.. The Rotary Club of Beaudesert bought the Rotary Hoe for village use. A great purchase.


The village families can’t afford good supermarket chicken. we could not possibly offer village chicken to visitors. the villages love snake and small fish. The ricefields  attract mice which attract very fast mice catching snakes. The families set traps This meal contains local herbs and spices and the snake…. it tastes like chicken!.


The Water Festival school holiday ended  at the weekend and before I left the village to find internet for three days.. some children came by to say ‘hello’ at 6am on their way to the school morning shift.

I always have a huge number of children and family photos but that’s enough for today.. I hope you enjoyed the photos.. If you did enjoy the photos and stories, please consider some financial help for these hard working and desperately poor children… John






















Urgent help needed – for good reasons… an invitation to the villages

In CategoryJohns blog

Our – EducatingCambodia – School related projects in Cambodia are registered with ‘Rotary International’  through the ‘Rotary Foundation’ as Project number 70656. The Rotary Club of Beaudesert in Australia is our home Rotary Club.

‘Hello’ to everyone –

              – everyone who has been with us for a long time -and ‘Hello’ to you if this is your first look at this website.

Some of you have given thousands of dollars AND hundreds hours to OUR children and their families and some of you are brand new!… (you can browse through this website easily and see all the stories, developments and issues). John.

We need three new classrooms.

and you can be a BIG part of OUR next big step forwards.

Read through to the end of today’s post to get clear, complete details – including my current direct email address and phone numbers in both Cambodia and Australia – and my travel plans for contacting me..

Basically, we are the happy victim (temporarily we hope), of OUR success.

Up to four weeks ago our school roll was 500 girls and 500 boys – 

The children so far are aged five to fourteen or fifteen with many older children when we first started in an attempt to ‘cram in’ their missing years of schooling. There is also the occasional exceptionally keen and ‘bright’ four year old.

Student numbers have risen evenly and gradually since we started out with one building and 300 students in late 2008. We added classrooms twice – plus we added a ‘clinic’ building and a teachers’ accommodation house.

Three months ago we gained another 320 children overnight from a Charity School some distance away which became no longer approved by the Cambodian Government. We are a perfectly straightforward Cambodian (Khmer) School and we will always stay ‘approved’.

Coincidentally, at the same time as the arrival of the extra 320 children, I was asked very reasonably by the local villages if we could please open a ‘Pre-School’ class.( For some time the villages have been talking about bright and enthusiastic four year olds. …….)

…. The teachers’ accommodation house – furthest building from the swings named ‘Chez Hilary and Roy’ after our French donors. ‘Chez Hilary and Roy’ has been needed for teacher accommodation just once, briefly,  and for several years now has been happily used as office space and for storage. ….

…. You can see from some of today’s photos that ‘Chez Hilary’ HAS become a ‘Pre-School’ classroom!

  This is the EMPTY front room of the teachers accommodation house (Chez Hilary) We have, now,  employed the teacher, Sok Sreyleuk ,and there are photos of Sok Sreyleuk both in her empty room and me paying her a salary. Chairs and tables are also paid for and yet to be built and I brought her a whiteboard from Phnom Penh two  weeks ago. We currently have 1340 children enrolled. 4yrs – 14years of age.

 Paying Sok Srey leuk our Pre-school teacher – with me and Sok Ken our senior teacher… ..and then coffee with the village leaders. 

As you can see there is also a photo of me with a whiteboard .I was ready to transport it and more equipment from Phnom Penh back to our villages for the pre-school.

This all shows that our schools are very popular – but with HUGE class sizes!! – up to 100 students per classroom in two shifts with completely different groups of Children morning and afternoon.

So……this is The Fund Raising Launch – TODAY -now!

One of our village fathers, ‘Warn’, actually named Mov Sovorn, our first builder, will build (with full village support as usual, with all materials sourced locally) –

–  NEW 3 CLASSROOM BUILDING – just like the other two in Chuor Ph’av (our main campus) and the one in Prey t’Baing – ‘Antibes School’.

We will relocate the UNICEF swings and slide (with additions) to the other end of the campus (gate end).

The new School Building will be where the swings currently are. You can see the swings from two vantage points.


The new building will then be at 90 degrees to the existing line of buildings in place of the swings and slide (which will be relocated closer to the gateway end – and added to)

OK, let’s squeeze in another swings photo..

  The building will be at right angles to the row of classrooms and exactly where the swings currently are – and will be our urgently needed  three room building.  Each room will be ten metres by ten metres. The photo is of Eva and Roland who,will be reading this in France in their Antibes home.

THIS SECTION ON WHO BUILDS THE SCHOOLS (!) WAS EDITED IN (inserted) on September 07 2016. It includes three photos of villagers building our schools and making desks.

One of the very important aspects of our Schools Project is ‘who does the building’? (The 3 photos are to illustrate that EVERYTHING is made and built by OUR mums and dads)
From the beginning in 2008 the villagers themselves, the FATHERS and MOTHERS of our children and where possible, the children themselves have done all the work. Across our schools ‘feeding villages’ we have four dads who are builders and understand plans.

All the desks are made by teams of mums and dads in and under and in their own little homes.
The villagers sense of OWNERSHIP is total .AND indeed that ownership is realistic because we GIVE, 100%, the Schools, to the community. The schools are on community land and they are owned by the community.

We pay our lead builders and they in turn pay all their workers – dozens of them. Labour is by far our smallest budget item.

 Big foundations, strong columns and beams all hand reinforced and hand filled with concrete.

 hand made boxing for the steel reinforcement and then hand filled with hand mixed concrete.

All bricks are made locally from Mekong clay, tiles the same and sand and rock and stone – all sourced and bought locally.
We have offers of volunteer workers from both Australia and from the Cambodian capital city, Phnom Penh. The Australian volunteers would require accommodation and food not to mention their own airfare costs. What WE GET is excellent work completed and with a HUGE HUGE sense of achievement and ownership of their childrens’ Schools. ALL WORK IS DONE BY MUMS AND DADS.

Please help us with the one thing they haven’t got – money for the essential purchases like wood and concrete etc. as per this fund raising campaign for a three room strong long lasting building.


The Cost – and When?

We hope to start building within six months from now.

US$26,000 is required for the building. (a further US$4000 will be needed to equip the rooms ready for teachers).

We will start BUILDING as soon as we have the US$26,000 – building money.


(All major Donors so far are listed within the website under ‘Donors’ to the left of your screen.)

We need 52 people to each donate US$500

(At TODAYS exchange rate, that is, AUD$655… EUROS 442 … GBP379)

…. Then we can start building.

We will then raise the money to equip the three classrooms – US$4000 total..

We will display the names of  all the DONORS on THE BUILDING ITSELF.

You will, in all senses, be part of the future of OUR children.

How to DONATE.


Our Schools are a project of ‘EducatingCambodia’ – Our Schools are an approved project of Rotary International (Rotary Foundation) – through THE ROTARY CLUB OF BEAUDESERT. This all means that within Australia, all donations are tax deductible; from Europe, the UK and the USA I am not so sure but I must say that from our experience most people have less interest in tax deductibility so long as the donation – 100% OF IT (!!!) goes to the right place. As you know, after eight years of operation, 100% of your donation goes to YOUR target. We employ no one other than Cambodian teachers and in this case – Cambodian builders.

Two ways to DONATE

  1. For Australians PayPal might be particularly useful. (click on DONATE to the left of your screen for easy instructions). (good friends in the UK also use PayPal successfully).
  2. If you don’t care for PayPal, EMAIL ME directly on for bank transfer details both internationally and from within Australia. We use the ANZ Bank (Australia New Zealand) in both Australia and in Cambodia. (There are even ANZ cash terminals in Cambodia!) so reducing costs further.

Phone numbers and my travel dates.

Right now, September 2016, I am in Australia and my phone number is always +61 406875120 . I return to Cambodia and the villages on November 22 (2016) and my phone number in Cambodia is always 855 92880006 .Phone me anytime and we can talk through anything – money methods, worries, ideas, anything.

We would love to see you in OUR Guesthouse!


–          While you are considering helping us with $500 towards our urgently needed classrooms, give a thought to whether you or a group of friends or family would like to spend some time….. a few days, up to say three months living in the Guesthouse. (I’m certain you would enjoy and benefit from a stay with us – we well understand it’s time and money that have to be considered!)

–          We need English speakers to help at the School. You certianly don’t have to be a qualified teacher but we do need enthusiasm. Any age is fine.

–          We would love to see Gap Year Students or students who could spend time with us as part of their studies or Degree.

–          I am in talks with a London Drama School right now who are considering sending students who will not only STAY in the Guesthouse but will use the Ground floor and upper floor for REHEARSALS and hopefully involve our locals or the children.

–          Please, give it some thought – you just might know someone or some people who would be interested.

–          We also very much need NURSES or DOCTORS or Student Nurses or Medical Students –anyone in the medical fields; Dentistry, Physiotherapy. Community Arts Workers would be good – musicians… it could be a big list; they would stay with us and help in any way they can – helping our children, our old people and large numbers of undiagnosed sick people!!

–           We need people, particularly from the worlds advanced countries, to make friends with individuals and families and advise them on health, hygiene and nutrition. You will be AMAZED when you realise what you know compared with intelligent people who know very little! – WE are TEACHING them slowly but surely. …… I’ll give you an example – If you don’t own a toilet it is a bad idea to squat down next to the well or water bore to do your toilet … and then using mime, simple language, books and pictures, explain WHY! As old friends and regular readers of these posts will know, we have very VERY little health care available so any help, however limited, is good.

 Lots of members of The Rotary Club of Beaudesert at OUR Guesthouse. Its a BIG place – that’s our bus parked under the awning!

–          As with ALL Schools in poor places you have to pay to help (we can’t pay you AND we have to feed you AND we need money to continue our work.). I know of one Charity school with far fewer children than we have and nothing like as desperately poor as we are; they not only charge hundreds of dollars a week but also insist on a donated computer and bicycle! Contact me with your needs or details and we’ll work out an itinerary, plan and cost.. Again an example – You might want to stay with us for two weeks but will have arrived from Thailand, you’d like a two days at Angkor Wat (who wouldn’t?) obviously need all transport and food and then continue a South East Asian Experience to Laos or Vietnam.

–          Now all this sounds expensive but it isn’t. American and European University students do this sort of visit on small budgets,

–          We are as remote and as genuinely in desperate need as anywhere on the planet so visiting us is not just NEEDED it is also a life changing experience for everyone involved. Like I said, we look forward to seeing you one day SOON. – Please – help us today with the three classroom building and then come and see it – THEN jump right in (everyone does) and help us in the school and through the villages. Our Schools are fed by twelve villages and the six around the main School, the Chuor Ph’av School, are considered six of the poorest in all Cambodia. They need our help to learn how to thrive. BUT at the same time we learn a lot about what is almost a traditional, but very malnourished, medieval  VILLAGE LIFESTYLE.

–          So, please,  help us urgently with classrooms – and – come to see us..

PS. If you scroll down to the update immediately below this one – entitled ‘August 2016 ….’ – you will read about our wonderfully enthusiastic School Graduate, Rotana and her proposed English lessons. Rotana has started; its a trial through the School holidays with desks borrowed, for now, from the main school. It is proving so popular, she’s got three of her friends helping her – it is basic written and spoken English.

–           Enough for today, John.




AUGUST 2016: news update: a star pupil: water filtration: teachers: Pre-School: catching up with village children: shopping!

In CategoryJohns blog

The Website

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..

As of today we have 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 yourfinancial helpto 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).

‘Paypal’ donations go through The Rotary Club of Beaudesert in Australia and onto us in Cambodia with no money whatsoever taken from your donated amount. There’s lots of advice on the site about what money can buy for our children and indeed there is a new need outlined in TODAY’S post below.

TODAY I’ll start with what I know about ‘The Ambulance’ but today’s news DOES get better.

I am writing this from Phnom Penh about 10 kilometres upstream from the Container terminal at Neak Leung (For those who recall the ferry to get to the road to Vietnam and Prey Veng – that was at Neak Leung – there is now a bridge). The Ambulance, eleven months on is still in a container at Neak Leung.

You have to understand that in a country run by an almost autonomous bureaucracy and where the Courts are an arm of the Government of the day, I have few rights.

I have not and will not give up but I have tried to import, give away, export and all combinations – the ambulance… hundreds of emails and phone calls and very recently a letter simply giving it to the Cambodian Government. (They don’t want money – I’ve tried that.)

I have pointed out that the Local Government of Kamchay Mear ASKED for the ambulance in the first place – perhaps Customs could simply give it to them as was our intent.

Perhaps the most absurd thing of all is that we are not allowed to export it back to Australia (or anywhere) because it hasn’t been imported…. So it stays in the limbo of a container terminal.

The Customs officials know me and we get on just fine, as do all levels of Government. My phone is switched on 24 hours a day. It seems they are trapped by their own bureaucracy…. HOWEVER it might be the case that the Government CAN confiscate it and then give it to someone. I have asked that that ‘someone’ be the Local Government of Kamchay Mear who have no ambulance at all rather some richer District or Province well endowed with ambulances….. I make phone calls, I visit Neak Leung (At great expense) and I wait for phone calls.

I really like the individuals I deal with but the system is rather complex. Enough for now (again).


Customs want me to go AGAIN early next week, when for the first time they want to open the container TO SEE WHAT’S INSIDE.


  This is Rotana Guy (pronounced ‘gooee’). Rotana was one of our first pupils in 2008 – she was 12 years old. Rotana having never been to school before stayed in our school (intended for 5 – 14 year olds) till she was 16, like many of those early older children. Rotana, like others, took herself the two hour bike ride through rice fields to High School. She is now in the equivalent of Grade 11 at age 20.

Rotana loves learning English. Her English is very basic but its a big start.

Rotana wants to share what she learns with our village children. She will set up a small classroom as a trial during the 4 week holidays starting next week. I want us to support her. Its also a business venture. she wants to charge about two cents a day per child for 4 hours a day English lessons 5 days a week for four weeks. (I’ll work out workable details) .. I want us to support her effort. Ive already bought her the teachers books and white board and pens to get her started. It will be during the school hoidays so for this trial we will borrow some school desks from the school (Sok Ken the head teacher is in agreement). ………… Good luck Rotana!! (We now have a Registered Nurse and a would be teacher from our foundation year).

WATER filtration continued

If you look back at the last report you’ll get the start of this story. For four months of the year there is no rain and ground water is not really safe to drink. Clear Water Cambodia have given us a series of filtration tanks and we have to get the water from the ground into them. Most of the work is now done – you can see taps and washing troughs and instructions in the Khmer language.

 In these photos I am handing Sok Ken the money needed to power the water pump. Actually I’m not sure that big solar batteries will provide enough power to drive the pump but the solar company believes it will. If it doesn’t work then we will have  fixed up and maintained the school solar system but have to buy diesel for the pump. We will cross that bridge soon.

     So … if you look back at the last blog post you can see  the constituent parts of the filtration system. In today’s post, its all put together. In today’s penultimate photo you see the trough which not only has taps but also hand washing facilities.

In the last photo, above, you see Chanthay holding one of the taps leading from the last tank in the filtration series. (INCIDENTALLY – keen watchers will know that Chanthay is one of the village childrn we follow and have followed since she was 4 years old.. Soon, I’ll add this photo to her very own sub section.)

  This is Sok Ken our truly wonderful Head Teacher in her office area with teachers very happy with her leadership


 I LOVE this photo. I laughed for five minutes when they showed me this room a few days ago. You might recall me mentioning briefly in the last post that the teachers had said they reeeeli need a preschool – (we often have bright children starting school at age 4 anyway). They reminded me that Chez Hilary and Roy intended as teacher accommodation has only been used briefly once as accommodation but mainly as storeage. …..

…. so, this is the big front room of Chez Hilary and Roy – (far right of the main row of buildings. I said I really liked the idea… I go away and come back and I find this – I LOVE it. Not a chair… not a table and no salary. 

…. Ladies and gentlemen we need US$200 for their own hand made furniture and stationery and US$180 for one teacher per six months…

    We also need an extra US$180 each for two extra teachers because we have taken on the 300 children from a closed charity school.

   I’ll ask for all of the above from everyone everywhere soon in a special communication ….. we now have approximately 1340 children.


 Hello Peery… ‘Nang’s Story” to the left of your screen.. Read it; you’ll like it. This is her daughter, Peery. Age 7 now; 8 on November 26. We look after her after her mum died. Thanks Jana. … The coat? for Khmer people January feels VERY cold – so we bought Peery a coat in readiness! I’ll add this and the other photos below to Nang’s Story’ soon.

 Peery and her friend, On.  Micara and Peery by the front stairs of The Guesthouse. If you look at the banner at the very top of the website, Micara is the second from the left (taken 8 years ago). Micara is still sadly malnourished.

 … and of Micara agian and Peery and their friend Maigin.





A lot of us really like the photos and notes on our almost medieval style travelling shops – here’s some more…

 What you are looking at here are the wares of the charcoal burner, the tobacco and scarf salesman combined, the fishmonger and the pork butcher who all turned up at the same time….. so lets take a closer look

  (the pork butcher)

   (the fishmonger)


I BOUGHT 1 KILOGRAM OF FIRST GRADE TOBACCO AND TWO SCARVES FOR A TOTAL OF US$ 6. YES six dollars 20 cents. (the tobacco cost US$1.20)



 Chanthou checks the weight so that her mother and aunt get half a kg each!!




The patterns change along the roll of cotton.

As you can see and read there are a LOT of developments and work to be done.. Another report soon I am sure..

John – back to the villages tomorrow.






Return to our SCHOOLS and VILLAGES. 33 new photos – story updates – many things to do

In CategoryJohns blog

I am John, the coordinator of all our projects in our District of Kamchay Mear in Prey Veng Province, Cambodia.

I have returned after 9 months of being ill (Guillian Barre Syndrome) in and out of hospital in Australia. Right now I am 50% well – walking with some difficulty – and am able to do what I have come to do – catch up with everyone and all our projects….

…”our projects’ means everything we do in and around 12 villages to do with our three schools and attempts at health care and improving where we – can village life.

“our” means, The Rotary Club of Beaudesert, Rotary everywhere, and friends and family everywhere. Particularly it means YOU and ME. It means Surrey in England and the South of France – particularly Avignon and the Cote d’Azur, it means New York…. basically it means YOU. They are our children – our families.

Our villages are some the most remote and yet densely populated in Cambodia. We have no mains electricity and no piped water. Medical; care is extremely hard to access.. but we do get a little. We have no doctors but we have one registered nurse who is one of our own SCHOOL GRADUATES. (see earlier posts)

Medicin Sans Fronters (doctors without borders) will not come to us ” you are too remote”… Similarly visiting US military Doctors wont visit us…. We are asked to take patients to Phnom Penh (the city)… THE problem is ‘who is a patient’?  .. obviously an accident is a ‘patient’ but are we then expected to drive them on the back of a motorbike through rice fields and three hours of road?!…….. which leads me TO THE AMBULANCE….


As you might know (see several recent posts) two years ago the Kamchay Mear District said if we could donate a District Ambulance (there isn’t an ambulance in the District yet) then the District would (will) find us – visiting Doctors….. we have had for 9 months our Ambulance (packed with donated goods) sitting on the dockside in a container in Phnom Penh… The ambulance is a major bureaucratic nightmare for the government for many almost unbelievable reasons… I will attend a meeting about THE AMBULANCE with Cambodia Customs on the 22nd – four more days, I am hopeful but history tells me that this wont be the end of the matter.

Progress, stories and photos and future developments and needs

Today I will show you the first 33 photos that I’ve taken since arriving in the villages on June 10. the photos will have explanations below or alongside them.

 If you look at the banner heading of this website you see a row of children. Micara is second from the left. The three friends as we called them were in Micara’s case 5 years old.. In todays photo, pushing the trolley, Micara is 12 years old… under nourished but happy. 100% of the rural population has tapeworms. The effect on small children is worse than for adults. We worm the frailest children but it needs repetition. Of course the solution should be ‘no parasites’ but that is easily said and almost impossible to achieve at this stage.

 MAJOR GROWTH at the Chuor Ph’av Schools. In this photo you see the six female teachers at this school ( later you will see the two male teachers too).

Sok Ken’s (head teacher second from the left) flower gardens are very successful and extremely popular with everyone.. You will see more of the gardens as you scroll).

A School several kilometres away from us through rice fields has had to close down through a charity pulling out prematurely and the Government unable to support it financially – SO – we now have ALL THEIR CHILDREN and by January we will need another three teachers.. We have well over 1000 – until I count, I’m guessing at 1,300. Remember, our classes are twice a day at 100 children per class.

Last year we had ten teachers – right now we have thirteen teachers and by December – at least fourteen. (I’ll explain ‘at least 14’ as you scroll down.)

 I am with the eight Chuor Ph’av teachers – The Head Teacher, Sok Ken is to my right. The two men are on my left.

Next, I’ll give you several photos associated with a DONATION from an NGO named “CLEAR WATER CAMBODIA”.

The nine photos above:

For almost five months of every year there is no rain; there is still plenty of ground water but no rain water.

We collect rain water and it is stored in the blue tanks, but it soon runs out.

A Charity named “Clear Water Cambodia” contacted us and this is their work in progress. In a shed on an elevated and a lower slab there will be four tanks holding pumped ground water. The ground water is filtered to high quality drinking standard (bags of filtering material in a photo).. For the foreseeable future the charity commits itself to support its school – and in this case that is us!!

They have so far built the shed and the drinking trough. It looks like WE will have to fix our solar system to pump water from our wells to the tanks.. That will cost us two new solar batteries, labour and wiring.

(To anyone who thinks that this is not sustainable I might remind you that every town and city in the world – filters, cleans and pumps its water).

 This photo shows 4 things..1. Sok Ken’s flower beds. 2. 100 bicycles. When we started there was ONE bicycle.. Over time a family bicycle has become a priority – although our families can afford very little ( in many cases we give clothes) they all agree that their childrens’ education comes after food in the order of things.. so to get to school – a bicycle. ….

…. and 3. a row of buildings. The very last one at the end of the bicycle row is the ”teachers house’ built specially for teachers who need a place to live. Over the years it has been used for accommodation once. Mostly it is teachers meeting, special classes and storeage… …….

…… but the proposal is that with some interior demolition the ‘teachers house’ becomes A PRE SCHOOL . School for 3 to 5 year olds as in the west. 

This is why earlier I mention ‘at least’ fourteen teachers.

I have said an enthusiastic tentative yes – after all – SCHOOL is our core business!!

and the 4th thing you can see in this photo – is my thumb over the lens – sorry.


Sok Ken has has asked for financial help to build more gardens. There will still be plenty of room for sport. She, with children and teachers support has done VERY well.

The swings donated by UNICEF are still very well used ….. and, did you spot Nang’s daughter in the middle?

  The last building visible  in the row of buildings is the building that might become a Pre School.

 The tuckshop next to the gate.


Four of our brilliant teachers quietly sitting. Remember their classes for each teacher are 100 children in the morning shift and then 100 completely different children in the afternoon shift.

 a meeting with Chanthou in our red clinic.


At The Guesthouse.

Downstairs at the Guesthouse. I’m sorry its a poor quality photo but as a document it is important. Chanthou’s daughter Soklep left school with no real academic interest and so now happily works at our Guesthouse…… MEANWHILE, Soit (SOKLY is her real name). became too old for our school and so now very willingly cycles several kilometres to High School every morning. SOIT is the girl we rescued from an island  factory near Koh Kong in the far south west… we still have plans for Soit but its all a bit slow.


I have had 8 days to get used to my new dog and why I have a new dog.

This is Spot, wisely named Spot before my arrival.

“Where’s Kelly”? I asked. There are earlier posts with Kelly, my wonderful dog. Beaudesert Rotary Club visitors loved Kelly too. Kelly was loveable.

“John, I’m sorry but the neighbours took her and ate her.” I have only ever owned three dogs in all my life….. Kelly and Kelly’s Grandfather (who was magnificent were both eaten in my absence… and now Spot………………. Good luck Spot…. Spot seems to be lovely dog too.

Incidentally all dogs in Cambodia are “Asian Dogs”… The Australian Dingo is an Asian Dog that probably migrated somehow to Australia a 1000 years or so ago.

Good luck Spot.

 This is Nang’s mother (see Nang’s story to the index left of this screen) Today’s second photo of Micara (she is today’s first photo. Then there is Nang’s daughter Peery. Mab is Nang’s younger sister and she got married  last year and is now six months pregnant. I promised Nang that we would take care of Peery and we do.

 Theres a great many Guesthouse photos in earlier posts. This was todays view from the back steps. just to the right of centre and one kilometre away is The School.

Please contact me if you want to visit and volunteer.

 Chanthou’s son Kimheang power watering in front of the Guesthouse

 Chanthou and her sister, Eeya gardening.

I take thousands of photos and indeed there are several thousand photos on THIS website.. Please browse and then find the Donate page (plus a Donors page and what your money can buy information.

This is enough for today. The last photo today is of Peery, Sot and Maigin. Everyone… EVERYONE who visits our villages brings about 1o kgs of clothes or presents. This time I brought 2o kgs of stuffed toys and books.

Peery and Sot and Maigin are saying a heartfelt THANK YOU VERY MUCH (Arkun Cherern).

I’ll write again soon – John at The Schools.