It was great to be back in Cambodia with Meredith for our March trip to oversee some capital works at our schools. We noticed on the trip from the airport to our hotel a lot more traffic, even coming to a standstill at one stage. There are also many new hotels, apartments, supermarkets and shops. It’s a very pretty spectacle arriving at night with colourful lights in shops, restaurants and in trees along the river.
The first school we visited was Domrei Chlong where we were laying paving along the front of the two sets of classrooms. Mr Saren our builder and his workmen from the village were busy at it when we arrived. We also agreed on the spot to pave an additional adjoining section where 140 students are provided with breakfast each morning by an international health organisation.
The Principal, Mrs Sao, was very happy to see us and was very grateful to have the paving done. We also provided a laptop and printer for the school.
We provided printers for our schools at Prey Prah and Thnal Dach.
The villages we support are poor and the country is in drought with only one rice crop this year. This will make it even tougher for the farming community.
Thnal Dach had asked us for a new two classroom building to replace one they already had which had been damaged by termites making it unsafe. Mr Saren must have a large pool of local workmen as they were on the job when we called in with the framework going up. We have previously built classrooms in Cambodia with steel cladding walls but they haven’t stood the test of time and weather so we are now building with timber cladding. In time we hope to replace steel with timber on all the other steel cladded buildings.
Over many years we have been sending principals, vice principals and teachers to workshops in Kampong Thom run by Teachers Across Borders Australia in June/July. These sessions run for five days and teach programs of leadership, literacy and numeracy amongst others. This has been very successful for our schools and on during discussions with the principal and vice principal at Thnal Dach we noted that they were showing more confidence in their roles. They told us the school was working together as a team and they were sharing ideas and regularly liaising with parents and the school committee. They are also sharing their ideas with other schools in the area and we have seen some changes in some of our other schools along the same lines which is a great outcome.
Other capital works we had approved for this visit were tiling of prep classrooms at our schools at Reaksmei Santepheap and Krouche, payment for the connection of electricity from the street to the school at Reaksmei Santepheap and money for the school committee and villagers to erect a post and rail fence at Chom Rouen Rath. We also provided paint for Beoung which the villagers will use to paint the school buildings. Its wonderful to see the communities becoming increasingly involved in school improvement works.
We noted a well tended vege patch at Reaksmei Santepheap which is fenced to prevent the cows eating the crop. Many students in our villages have breakfast at school and no doubt the green vegetables will find their way into the rice based meals.
We arrived at Chome Rouen Rath to find the villagers had built a classroom for the pre-prep class. They have had a large number of pre-preps and preps this year and a new building was needed. Wonderful to hear more children are starting school and they need extra rooms!
We were very pleased to see all the teachers happy and schools looking so well kept. It is a delight to be able to help the teachers, their students and the village community wherever we can.
Before we knew it our week had come to an end. Our next visit will be in October this year for the start of the school year where we will provide uniforms, books, pens, bikes etc.
Thanks to all our supporters who make it possible for us to continue our work in Cambodia. Everyone we speak to in Cambodia is so grateful for the work we are doing and we couldn't do it without your generosity.