Monday, December 29, 2014

New School, New Year

Hello Everyone,

Hope you all had a good Christmas. We were up in the north east where KIDS is involved with the Stung Treng Women's Development Center (SWDC). They produce high quality silk scarves and fabric. At SWDC the weavers make a good living wage in pleasant working conditions and can also bring their children to the onsite daycare/preschool that KIDS provides funding for.

We also built and fully fund a pre school for 2 to 5 year olds in the village behind SWDC. We built the school 7 years ago. It is a wooden building and has served its purpose well. In the compound of SWDC the Allen Foundation, from the UK, recently completed an addition to the original small onsite daycare. It is a much larger and brighter building with two classrooms and a large open area in between the classrooms as well as a covered playground out front. As we support the two teachers at the SWDC school and three at Srey Poh, we have decided to close Srey Poh School and move all the children, teachers and resources into the SWDC on site school.  The village school is only a five-minute walk from SWDC so it is not a far distance for the children to attend the new building.

 When we built Srey Poh School we had the piece of land donated by a family and in exchange KIDS built them a new wooden house, as they all lived in a small shack covered with rice sacks and tarps. We also built five wells for the community. Some of their land was given to Srey Poh School on the condition that it would be used for the benefit of the community. So we have donated the land and building back to the community and it will have several possible uses including: a library, community education and training center and a venue for weddings, funerals and community events. The assistant Governor of the area thanked KIDS for our donation and all the parents are happy to see their children attend the new school, which is much more secure. The teachers will be able to share resources and work together as a team. They are all doing a terrific job and when the children go on to primary school they are both well behaved and very well prepared for learning and are often the top of their class. The teachers work hard to teach a holistic curriculum including: social skills, cultural awareness, hygiene, creative play, and of course reading, writing and math. KIDS provides the children with a great meal every day with all the food groups and one healthy snack so they are thriving. As well SWDC now runs a health clinic funded by Kindred Hearts Canada and so all the children receive free healthcare. Children that came to the school with health, nutritional and failure to thrive issues are now singing, dancing and are is wonderful to witness the difference.

As this New Year begins, the children have a new school, the community has a new community centre and each child has a new and improved opportunity for a healthier and happier future.

We wish you all a happy, healthy and meaningful new year!

With appreciation,

Rick and Adrianne

Monday, December 22, 2014

Compassion and Gratitude

Dear Friends,

As we head into the holiday season it is often a time for celebration and reflection. We were thinking about two words that represent how we are feeling at this time of year and the words that come to mind are Compassion and Gratitude.

Working here in Cambodia and being able to provide basic needs and opportunities for children, youth and families has been made possible through your spirit of generosity and compassion. We are always deeply moved by the support K.I.D.S. receives from so many.

We were recently e-mailed a copy of a letter to Santa from Sumalee, the daughter of one of K.I.D.S board members. As you will read she has already developed a compassionate spirit at the young age of five.

At almost the same time we were handed a letter from Pai Sue, a young boy of 12. K.I.D.S has been supporting his education for several years. He lives at home with his family, in a small thatched hut with very few possessions. Pai Sue goes to both Khmer and English school. In the afternoon between classes he toils in the brick factory to help his family. He gave us a small package with four lotus flowers in it. His beautiful analogy of how everyone's support is changing his life is below, he wanted us to pass on his gratitude. We transcribed the letter as we could not get a good photo of it as his writing is very small.
Thank you for your support to me. I don't have nothing for you
       but I have studied hard. This monthly exam is class five. When
       you don't support me I was like a lotus and don't come out of
       the water. When you support me I can now read, write and spell.
       I am like lotus coming out of the water and see the sun, forever
      today. I am like lotus come out of the water and will become a real 
      lotus. I can hope to find a good job in my future.

      Best wishes,
      Pai Seu

Pai Seu's Gift - Four steps of growth of the lotus flower, from bud to mature pod
At this time in the world, when often there is so much sad and unsettling news, it is good to hear how the children are still hopeful. Thanks for supporting them

Wishing you and yours a meaningful and peacefull holiday season.

Adrianne and Rick

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Computer Lab

Dear Friends,

We hope all is well with you and yours and that you are getting ready to spend time with friends and family over the holiday season.

As you may recall from last year we renovated and set up a computer lab at Sasardam High School, which is the main high school serving many rural primary schools. We only had enough funds to renovate the classroom and purchase ten used computers. The class started and the kids and teachers were thrilled to have access to computers and learn the basics. As this high school has about 800 students learning computers will help them to either get into University or get a job once they graduate.

When we came back this year we went out to the school and visited the computer class. Behind each computer sat four enthusiastic students however as we all know using computers is not really a group experience, especially when learning to type! The school had also found the funds to hire a half
​​time trained IT teacher who recently graduated with his degree so this was more good news. We were pleased to tell the teacher, principal and students that thanks to donations received through KIDS we are able to now provide them with the rest of the computers, a screen, projector and increase the teacher's salary so he can work full time.

Today we loaded up a van with the 14 computers, a screen, projector, monitors and other equipment and took them out to the school. When we arrived the principal, computer teacher and several other teachers, along with some students were waiting for us. We thought that we would unload take a few photos and be on our way and they could set up the equipment the next day. The staff and students immediately set to unloading the gear and setting it up. Within an hour the 14 computers, projector and screen were hooked up and functioning and the class was full of students typing away.

Now the school has a fully functioning computer lab where every week hundreds of students will be able to take classes. Thanks to your generosity you have not only made these students extremely happy you have improved their knowledge and increased their chances for a much better future.

The students thank you very much for your support, they put their hands together in the "Sampea" which is a gesture of thanks and a greeting here in Cambodia.  The teachers also thank you for supporting them in the education of their children.

All the best,
Adrianne and Rick