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.












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