Village Children

I am in one of the villages, Chuor Ph’av and have stories and photos of the children who live near to me. For me these local children are my monitor or ‘checking post’ for how we are doing.

My village is just as poor as all the surrounding villages so for me the quality of village life (a separate section) and happiness and progress and learning levels of these children gives me a rough guide. It’s only rough though because I am well aware that the families who actually live near me could easily be improving better than others. HOWEVER as Beaudesert Rotarians who have visited would tell you, the family who I stay with are no better and maybe even a little worse than some others regards willingness to learn! I have the only toilets in the villages except for Asian (squat toilets in the schools).

Ten village people live in my house and not one of them is willing to use the toilet. That’s why I built a second toilet outside just in case it was to do with respect or embarrassment – they don’t use that either. Yes, there’s a long way to go with health, hygiene, sanitation etc. I’ll deal with this more in ‘village life’. (Photos and notes have been added upto Sepember 2011)

So for me if we can protect these few children and know what they are doing, it’s my indicator for the 1340 children we have in school.

I call these three ‘the three friends’. (AUGUST o4 2017 – today at the end of this short section on the three friends I show them again in and around school – so 7 years after the 13 photos of these three girls.)

I took this photo in 2010. Bit on the left was almost 5 and Da an undernourished 6 and Thay (Tay) in pink aged 4. Bit and Da have started school now and Thay starts in 2011.




All three are at school now. This is at Chanthay’s house (Thay is cntre in this photo). This is her family kitchen. It is also where Lorn our builder of a new school clinic lives. Lorn is Chanthay’s grandfather. You can read about the clinic planning in ‘This way’



Da, Bit  and Chanthay December 2011





This is the first time Bit saw non-Khmer people other than me..she was almost 4 years old. This beautiful photo was taken by the then President of Beaudesert Rotary, Corrinne. Bit is in awe, amazed and also a kind of proud face of the Khmer Empire of old. (well I think so anyway).

Bit was given this dress to wear at parties. It cost $2 which is a lot of money.

This proud happy person is Bit on her very first day in school. She is a very lucky person. She doesn’t fully comprehend the significance of her school. She will attend school, learn to write and read her own language and do maths and at the end of her school years will be able to make choices that her older friends, aunts and cousins couldn’t even dream of making.

Bit and Da at school.


Bit finishes school at 12.30pm having done the morning shift which started at 7am..she’s heading off now to help in the fields till dark.

September 2011. Bit has been at school for almost a year. She is safe and can read her own language.

Bit is with her sister, Jinny who is wearing one of our school skirts.

Bit with Chanthou’s daughter Soklep – one of the twins.


Bit and Da on a bicycle December 2011




We don’t particularly encourage individual sponsorship for the simple reason that we don’t particularly want one relatively rich child and his or her family in the villages….however this was $20 in Cambodian money (Riel) which a friend wanted to give to Bit and her family. You will see in the Donate section that there are many ways and reasons to give money to help children, their families, the schools and the villages.

August 04 2017 The section now in blue print was inserted seven years later – The Three Friends.

I’ve been thinking about taking this photo for a long time… and in the same order as on the banner.. I got them from three different classrooms and relocated them to seat as in the banner…..


.…SO – what that means is, if you look at The EducatingCambodia website (THIS ONE) as you open it – Pet, Micara and Chanthay have always been top left – almost 8 years later now


I took these photos two days ago. Pet on the left (full first name is Sreypet) started out as Vit (or Bit – cant remember which) as you can see above in black print. BUT the most interesting thing is that many of the names that now appear in English when they get old  enough for their Khmer ID are MY phonetic spellings!!.. eg Chanthai is Thai because that’s how I wrote it…similarly Chanthay on the right of the threesome. DA in the middle I miss heard years ago and its close to Ra… add her family name and she is now Micara. Bit (or Vit) has transformed to Pet; Bit was me miss-hearing Pet and thinking it was Vit or Bit… so she is now officially “Srey Pet” (Srey means girl)… In Khmer there are absolutely no vowel equivalents… so she is now Pet.  (I’ll keep this somewhat mad linguistic nightmare for a later repeat).



 Micara age 13 – top left of the website banner.


Sreypet age 12 – second from left on the website banner. (formerly known as Bit and Vit (see above).

 Chanthay -Third from left on the website banner. Together with Maigin who also appears often through the last few years.


Kamau aged 12 appears elsewhere in the site. When this photo was taken she had never attended school and her prospects for the future were simply beyond terrible. We were and are absolutely determined to protect and educate Kamau and the other 480 girls (520 boys) we already have in schools.

but Kamau and all her friends had to work in all the family fields. The families were and are 100% committed to schooling their children (first ever) so we have two shifts of students. Kamau works in the rice fields in the morning


goes to school in the afternoons. The older children are fully aware that they have years of catching up to do. Kamau can now read and write her own language and is protected.

IT’S NOW DECEMBER 2011 and Kamau is 16 years old. She can read and write and is good at maths but she is desperate to help at home and run a small shop…. so we have given her a $25 start and on December 1 2011 she openede her little shop at the house where I live. She is very keen to learn and clutches onto her money tin.







The photo above (shop) was taken three years ago. The shop was short lived. Kamaus family is extremely poor – they would be on the streets if were not for the family where I live – along with her mother and father, Kamau moved to the far south west of Cambodia to Koh Kong to live in a tiny hut of a biilionaire Chinese property Developer. Locals were evicted and the newly vacant land sold to the Chinese man and the money pocketed by corrupt officials (no charges or trial) – but thats another story.

Kamau works in the gardens of an islands condominiums for very little money.

I met Kamau yesterday in Phnom Penh –  here are three photos of the 19 year old Kamau. I bought the new clothes for her. She returns to the south west today. The good news from our point of view is that Kamau received about three years of education in our schools and can still read and write and do basic maths. One day probably soon, Kamau will marry and have children and she will be able to help her own children to do their homework. John 19.04 2014.


Edited again on December 4 2014:

Kamau has got married and I was at the wedding. I’ve told the full story with 20 photos in a POST dated yesterday – December 03 2014 – please scroll through the posts to find her wedding story. Here is just one of those wedding photos.

 The story is beautiful as is Kamau – please read it within the ‘Posts’ John.

 I took this photo of Kamau and her baby taken about 6 months ago.

    …and in August 2017, first Kamua and her little boy and then Kamau’s mother, Nat, with her Grandson at The Guesthouse.


Back to the three friends: Thay

Thay with her head shaved through scalp infection from head-lice WHEN SHE WAS THREE YEARS OLD. In this photo Thay is wearing her favorite aunties old dress. Auntie works in Phnom Penh bars. Like Kamau, we will protect and educate Thay and her friends.

There are no bought toys. Thay is playing with a bamboo cane pulling two round hard pieces of fruit on a stick axle.

Thay with her teddy


I gave Thay the brick; it is treated with as much care and love as any western girl with her doll…look carefully – The flower is a milk bottle. I wouldn’t now dream of buying her a real doll…the brick requires and gets much more imagination… what toys are you going to buy your children or friends children next holiday?

I’m sprung….Thay knows full well that despite the antics of the boy, Wai, she’s the girl in the photo!

Thay at the pump with 18 month old Peery – Nang’s daughter. Until we have money for sanitation and water filtration, Thay and the villagers drink ground water, centimetres from where they do their toilet anywhere and everywhere on the ground.

Thay’s toys are anything she picks up. I love this photo.

This is Thay’s house with her mum and sister. What you see is what you get – Thay’s house is a rough square (the blue steps lead to a better house next door). Thay’s house is one room with a palm leaf room. A stone tiny fireplace is the cooking area and smoke drifts through the roof.

just like Bit before, I’m giving Thay and her family an enormous $20 which was donated specifically for Thay’s family from an Austrialian friend of ours.

.. ..and now some new photos of Chathay from September 2011. Thay is on the right crouched with an old teddy that her aunt brought from Phnom Penh. It cuddles better than the brick, but it’s really not getting as much attention. The little girl is Peery – Nangs daugher. I bought them both the shoes.

and here she is, happily showing off her new shoes outside her home.

Bit with Chanthay outside Bits home – next door to Chanthay’s home, September 2011.




 and in June 2017 when we brought 25 kg of donated lovingly knitted teddies – personally I still think her brick teddy got the most attention (see above).

   and more teddies.. the full teddy story is in the post dated June 27 2017.


 This is the three friends on January 24 2015.

ADDED April 15 2015:

These next five photos of Bit, Da and Chanthay were taken on April 14 2015 – Khmer New years Day.


  These two photos are of Bit next to her home. Bit is still mal-nourished. It is probably a combination of diet and worms. It is more difficult than it seems because to radically change her diet is almost impossible…. but we are trying.

  These two photos feature Da (rea name Micara) who is also one of ‘The three friends’ On the left Da is with her family at home under the house in the kitchen area – a fire in an earthen ware pot. She is sitting next to her mother Ian. In the second photo, da is with her younger sister Ut.

 Chanthay has come a long way since her shaven head and her brick teddy bear. She still has a wonderful imagination and is doing very well at our school.

EDITED IN DECEMBER 26 2016 – photos of Chanthay that occur with the ‘posts’ according to date.

 Chanthay closest to camera sitting next to Maigin in School December 07 2016.

 …and later the same day – Chanthay and Maigin at The Guesthouse.


Chanthay with a fever in December 2016. This sort of saline, sucrose and vitamin infusion costs US$7 which most families cannot afford. I paid for this.. BUT there is no medical follow up – when the infusion has ended, the family simply take the needle out and use thetube and valve for drip coolng of their 100cc motorbike engine… No blood or urine tests – medical intervention is concluded.

 Fortunately by the next day Chanthay was improving so I gave her some Childrens’ Ibuprofen to help reduce her temperature and relieve her headache..(see December posts for more detail.

 and with her pig. Chanthay is 12 years old.














This is Chanthai ( pronounced Jant(eye)).

Chanthai is an orphan but is loved and cared for by the village. She had a cow to care for 12 hours a day, seven days a week. There is no concept of a DAIRY industry; a bull serves the cow and the calves are raised and sold for meat…that is Chanthais support. Food is pathetic for animals – entirely rice straw – cows are thin and the meat is very poor. Chanthais cow died but the village gave her another cow.. SHE IS TEN YEARS OLD in this situation in this photo.

Like all the other children a happy compromise was reached. Chanthai attends school in the mornings and her cow is tethered near school. She takes her cow to the fields at 12.30pm (School starts for Chanthai at 7am. This is her very first day lined up outside her new classroom. Chanthai is in the butterfly shirt behind the girl in yellow.

Chanthai is doing very well at school. (September 2011) She can read and write. Her mental arithmetic is a favourite. She still looks after her cow.

July 2011 Chanthai helps with rice planting – stoom. (I’m adding several photos of rice planting in the section, ‘village life’).



Edited again today December 04 2014.

Just before we first met Chanthai eight years ago she had a terrible accident which crushed all her upper new adult teeth into her upper gum.Over the last few weeks we have with donations partly from The Dental Clinic itself and partly from me but mainly from an Australian lady named Jana Zehr (see Donors list) have fixed her teeth with muliple extractions and implants. Please see the story with the post dated November 25 and called ‘Chanthai and Uch Bophal – Here are three photos from that post of November 25 2014

 Chanthai’s crushed teeth had to extracted from her gums and brilliant work by Dr Uch Bophal to prepare her for implants.

 Chanthai who hasnt stopped smiling since the day this photo was taken – with the amazing Dentist Dr Uch Bophal. Scroll back through the main blog posts to see more on this story – November 25 2014.


 On November 14 2016 a wonderful group from Wagga Wagga in Australia visied our schools and donated lots of books, clothes and stationery.. We kept some of the stationery in the Guesthouse for village use. Chanthai now lives and works looking after the Guesthouse… A changed girl with new teeth – full of confidence.

 Edited in – December 26 2016. We take Chanthai to Phnom Penh for Guesthouse shopping. Chanthai is our Housekeeper. JUST LOOK AT THAT SMILE…. THAT CONFIDENCE… oh wow!! (with John in a very up market cafe!.)



We have, as you can see started to edit by inserting new photos and comments as the months and years change their lives.






These three photos were added on December 10 2011.

The girl is playing with a homemade bamboo hoop and the boy is of course playing with the universal favourite – the cardboard box.



On January 25 2012 a group of Australian Rotarians visited to see the schools so far and progress with our clinic. We maintain our ‘way’ of doing things with the clinic and if you look for the BLOG dated February 3 2012 you can see the progress. There are 53 new photos covering the schools, progress with the Clinic and several photos of children you know and villagers you know… but rather than separate them into sections we have kept that particular visit as one collection of photos. John