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

In CategoryJohns blog


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

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

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

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

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

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

My Health School

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

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

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

To date Carrie has trained over 2000 Yoga Teachers.

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

I’ll add notes through the photos.


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

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

Ren and So Nita check the Khmer Contract for me!


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

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


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

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


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


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

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


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

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


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

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


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


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


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

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


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

Magnetic Island – I WILL be back.


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

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

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


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

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

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












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