Sunday, February 28, 2016

Simple Support

Hello Everyone,

Hope this update finds you all well. As we work our way through the projects for schools, clinics etc, we always run into specific issues relating to children and families. We try to address as many as we can and here are a few.

Pheara's House
thatch walls with many holes
Pheara is one of the children in our Smart Kids program which educates rural children working in brick factories to escape the cycle of poverty. Pheara is a bright and engaging young student who lives off the power grid with her parents in the country side. When we visited her house we found it to be in need of work. The house had a good roof but the walls were very poor, made of thatch and had many holes and openings where the wind and rain could easily enter. They were also living on borrowed floorboards, widely spaced apart with huge gaps in between, as they could not afford
Preparing a meal
their own. They had some funds saved but were years away from being able to complete the work to upgrade their house. We supplemented their small savings with a few hundred dollars to get the repairs done. As is usually the case, the minute we announced that we could fund some material they quickly marshaled friends and family to redo the walls, add a few windows and get a new floor of their own. The next weekend we went to visit Pheara and her family as they worked on the house. We all sat down and shared a simple meal on the floor, as is custom here, they wanted to show their appreciation and they thanked everyone for supporting them in providing a better future for their children.

New walls, roof, floor and windows

Odasak School on Stung Sen River, Cambodia

Last week we went down with The Lake Clinic (TLC) team to the Stung Sen River. We wanted to bring supplies to the Odasak School, the school is close to where TLC operates.  We went to the school in December with TLC when they did a health check up for the school children.  Odasak is a very isolated school and has very little in the way of resources. The children were small for their age due to lack of proper nutrition. Most of the children had no shoes.

Lining up for new flip flops
We obtained a list of needs from the teacher and principal and we returned with scribblers, pencils, pens, erasers, art supplies, flip
flops, white boards and a first aid kit. We had to deliver the supplies by van, then boat and then by motor bikes to reach the school. Once there we organized the kids into lines of different ages and sizes, boys and girls and started to fit them with the appropriate shoes.

First aid for an ankle wound
One girl, about ten, stepped up to get a pair of shoes and we were shocked to see that she had a huge open wound down to the bone on her ankle. When we quizzed her as to why she did not go to the clinic that day she said that she did not want to miss getting her pair of shoes. Luckily we had the first aid kit and one of the nurses, Savann, from TLC along with us. Savann had to quite aggressively clean and then bandage the wound. The little girl sat there stoically, not showing any expression with what must have been a very painful procedure. These children are used to hardship and hard work. The teachers and principal, greatly appreciated the support. The principal told us that he had worked at the school for five years, because of the isolation of the school he lived at the school for four years only going back to his home once a month. Now they put in a small motor bike trail so he is able to live back in his home town and travels an hour each way on motor bike, which he is happy about.

Thanks to your contribution of books and pencils which brought smiles and laughter to their faces. The shoe made walking to and from school less painful and uncomfortable... simple support that makes a big difference.

Thank you!!!
Rick and Adrianne

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Trakiet School

Hello Everyone,
We hope that you are well and seeing signs of spring.

We want to tell you about a building project that K.I.D.S. and the Compassionate Eye Foundation, Vancouver, are working on. For a few years now we have been visiting Trakiet School in Poak District north of Siem Reap. The school is both a primary school and grade 7 to 9 middle school and serves 588 students. The staff are very committed to the children's education, unfortunately there is not enough capacity to house all the students. K.I.D.S. wanted to assist the school to address this issue and Compassionate Eye Foundations partnered with us to build a block of four new classrooms.

Some classrooms have sixty plus children in them. The kindergarten is in a small brick building that is normally the kitchen. The kitchen is now in a very rudimentary shelter outside where the teachers prepare food, donated by the World Food Program, for the very needy children, which is the norm at most schools in rural areas.

The most difficult classroom situation however is another building that we have come to call the "chicken coop" where more classes are taught. This classroom is made entirely of tin and is very hot here in the tropics.

The floor is dirt and when it is the rainy season and the school grounds are flooded the children have to put their feet on the trestles of the desks to keep them dry as there is a few inches of water on the floor under their desks.

K.I.D.S. and the Compassionate Eye decided to assist Trakiet School and the children that attend this school by building a block of four new classrooms. We started the school back in December and the work has been progressing very well and will soon be complete.

We visit the school weekly to check on the progress and connect with the main builder and the construction crew. The crew employees are mostly local men and women from the surrounding villages.

K.I.D.S. always insists that the builders pay the workers a fair, livable wage which assists local families and adds to the village economy. The villagers have been very happy to be able to work in their own community and not have to commute long distances to find work or go to Thailand as many have to do to support their families.

To watch a short video of the early part of the construction project, click the link to the Youtube video. As you will see, the work is very labour intensive.

 Trakiet School construction video

We will keep you posted on the completion and dedication of Trakiet School.
All the best, to you and yours,
Rick and Adrianne.

Monday, February 1, 2016

Smart Kids Program

Dear Friends,

While here in Cambodia we often visit a K.I.D.S. project that we believe is truly changing the future of young people in a positive and practical way. Along the banks of a small river to the Tonle Sap Lake is a district called Kompong Kleang, here families eke out a living either fishing or working in the brick factories. Often their houses are crammed together and the conditions are very difficult with little access to clean water or sanitary facilities.

Many children are forced to work in the brick factories from a young age, continuing the cycle of illiteracy and poverty. Some families live in the brick factories and have little chance of ever getting out.

A few years ago, K.I.D.S. implemented the Smart Kids program to assist students with their education so they could eventually get out of working many hours at the brick factories. We started out with eight young people who were attending school part-time and mostly working full-time. We now have 33 young people who are attending both Khmer and English school, learning computers and going to high school. K.I.D.S. provides them with their tuition, bicycles, school supplies, uniforms, computers, English lessons and English tutoring.

Although some of the student still work part-time to help their families, they are excited, happy, encouraged and grateful to have this opportunity. The parents are also happy that there is a chance for a better future for their children.

Thanks to all of you for supporting these hardworking, enthusiastic young people to live better lives and to change the future of their families and their communities.

Also, included in the post is a short (7 min) video of the life of one of the boys in the program, filmed a couple of years ago. Some of you may have seen it. Since making the video, this boy is now attending school full-time and is only working at the brick factory a few hours a week. He heads into grade 12 next year.

A Day in The Life of Pisu

All the best to you and yours,
Rick and Adrianne