Monday, 28 May 2012

more updates...

Error Correction

In my last post, about Steng Hav, I mentioned M'Lop Tapang (who are a huge organisation doing an amazing job here in Sihanoukville) and I was mistaken in naming Thet as the centres director. I apologise for that mistake.  I have corrected the original blog post here but many of  you receive updates by email and would not read the correction.


A huge thank you to Bernadette, a long time friend from Brisbane for donating $50 a fortnight, wow, I was overwhelmed. Also a huge thank you to the continuing donations from Jenny in Nymboida and also Richard in Nymboida and a special thanks to Marlon and Sharon in Nymboida for there $200 donation and the guidance and support they have given me from their time in Cambodia and lastly, a donation long overdue from a very special friend, Steve who is looking after our property in Nymboida for us.  He dropped us off at the airport and when we went to give him $20 for fuel, he said to keep it and help the  kids in Camboida, it had slipped our minds until just the other day, so a huge thank you to Steve for not just his donation but to the amazing job he is doing at our place in Nymboida.  Donations going in and expenses going out can be seen here and the petty cash information can be seen here.

One little note that I keep repeating, please don't use the PayPal to make a donation unless you are not in Australia, as PAYPAL take a fee.  Direct deposits into the bank account if you are in Australia are "fee free", so all of the money can be used over here.  Details about that are in the very top right of the blog here.  If anyone has any questions please do not hesitate to email me and ask (email contact details at the same location as above). To the generous people back in Aus. that have set up regular donations, thank you so very much. Everything is appreciated, $5 a week is awesome, if we had a few people doing that, it would add up to something substantial very quickly.

Geography Update

The World is a big place, so a few people  might not know exactly how Cambodia fits into the World, or how where we are living, fits into Cambodia. So I thought it might make sense to include a couple of small maps to help people out.  The first shows how Cambodia fits into SE Asia, with borders to Vietnam, Laos and Thailand
SE Asia

and here we are, way down south, in the port city of Sihanoukville, on the Gulf of Thailand


Rural Cambodia

We recently went to have a look at Kep and Kampot, two French colonial era resort towns that are slowly recovering. We travelled down in a mini bus but on the way back we took a tuk tuk (say that fast 10 times over !) through some of the rural areas. It was absolutely wonderful to get a little off the beaten track and see some of the more rural areas.  Pictures being worth a 1000 words, here is a small sample

Watering the crops ...

... the hard way

working in the fields near Kampot

Looking across the Gulf of Thailand, from Kep National Park

More photos here for those interested

Scarey Stuff !

There is also this online interactive atlas for anyone interested. One of the truly horrible things about this is the bombing information from the Vietnam War, along with the Landmines (mostly from the Khmer Rouge era)  and Unexploded Ordnance (UXO) strewn around the place.  You can click on the map, and on the top left turn the Bombing layers on. People die regularly from this kind of thing, 40 years after it happened they are still being killed and maimed.  !  Scarey stuff indeed !

Wednesday, 16 May 2012

Stueng ... and How !

I had been visiting the Good Will Centre for some time and Sabine invited us to go to visit a small school project she and one of the directors of M'lop Tpang had set up at a fishing village about 45 minutes out of Sihanoukville. A small place called Stueng Hav (pronounced Stung How for those of us in the West).

The main reason for the visit was that Sabine was leaving and the staff from the centre and members of the community wanted to have a going away party for her. Never one to say no to a free lunch, we tagged along.

The staff put on a wonderful spread,

Guests at our table, food starting to arrive

under the shade of the awning of the small school that Sabine had funded by raising money back in her native Germany.

Staff and friends of Sabine from Stueng Hav School Project

After lunch we had a walk around the village. Steung Hav is famous locally for it's hand built wooden boats and we managed to wander through and have a look.

One of the boats under construction
Having no workplace restrictions, sees us wandering through and taking care, recognising that if we get hurt it's our own fault and not anyone else's.

One of the boats under construction

As well as the small school, they organise other lessons around the immediate area, this being a semi formal classroom under one of the buildings of the village.
One of the scattered semi formal class rooms , underneath a village building

We then walked down to the local market
where we were going
where we had come from

and had a look 'round.  It was the King's Birthday long weekend, the kids were out everywhere.

"Helping" Mum and Dad at the market

Meat for sale at the market

Getting the produce to market

As we wandered the streets we could observe the life of the villagers without intruding too much.  Life was hard for many.

Typical village house

On the way back through the village, we went down to the jettys that poke out into the ocean. These jettys  are built by richer locals, who then charge the poorer fishermen to moor there.

Jetty with boats at low tide

Disappearing into the distance

One of the many small fishing boats, awaiting high tide 
One of the reason to have a look at the Steung Hav project was with a view to perhaps helping them out with the funding the Clarence Valley (mostly Nymboida) community have helped us raise. They have a few small projects they discussed that have potential for us to be involved in. We need to do a little  more "due diligence" work yet though.

An incredible experience ... more photo's here for those interested

keeping on, keeping on

Good Will Centre

I have been spending a lot of time volunteering and helping here lately, like all the small centres it is full of wonderful kids.  Kids who are HIV positive, kids with all sorts of issues but they are full of life and laughter.  I am really enjoying my time there.

Jenny's Toilet Construction Project aka the Dunstan Dunny !

Rather than "The House That Jack Built", "This is the Toilet that Jenny Built"

Jenny's Toilet

This is it !

Some of you may remember back to the lunch we were invited to on Khmer New Year, in mid April? Well, the toilet that was discussed there has been built and finished.  Mong, the young man and eldest Son in the family, who is in his final year of school, invited me around to have a look. He did the sign on his own. I had no idea he was going to or I would have had him put Jenny's name on it .  Some people have bridges or buildings named after them, Jenny now has a toilet in Cambodia she funded. Perhaps a plaque, "The Dunstan Dunny??

Money Money Money

Just to remind the few people who haven't yet fallen asleep reading this that they can view where the cash is going by following these links to

Saturday, 5 May 2012

what a view...

Donations Update

A huge thank  you to Nadine and Dave from Grafton.  They made a wonderful donation of $58 yesterday  Also a big hug to Kylie and her family from Karana Downs for their donation of $20 and I can't express enough how much of a difference peoples generosity makes to some of the poorest people in the World.

Just a reminder to those living in Aus, in order to avoid paypal fees (Pay Pal took $1.60 from Nadine and Dave's  generous donation), you can do a direct deposit straight into the bank account, the details for the direct bank deposit to the NAB account, the details of which are right under the Pay Pal donation button on the web page.


I have taken a paid part time job working three days a week, my savings were being drawn down faster then I would have liked and no income makes it more difficult to live.  While this has taken away a little from my volunteer work, it has given me the ability to interact with local Khmer people by working with them, as well as ex-pats from all over the World (other managers are from the Ukraine and America)  and tourists to Cambodia.  I work as a manager at the Victory Beach Hotel.  One of the great things about Cambodia for ex-pat workers compared to most other countries is the legality of work, you just need to get a visa on arrival at the airport and that's it.

One of the real upsides is the view. Trevor came and had dinner at the resort the other day and took this sunset photo for me.

From the alfresco dining area

Sunsets like this happen most days.... and occasionally they are even more stunning and I thought the sunsets over the back of the Coaching Station Inn were gorgeous !

Tuesday, 1 May 2012

Good Will Centre, Sihanoukville

I decided to use some of the money our Nymboida community had raised to support the wonderful work at the Good Will Centre, particularly the school at the centre which along with post and pre school care is it's main function.  I have committed to them to pay two months of wages for all the teachers.

Teacher wages for the month of April 2012

I had planned to drop the money to the Centre, take a photo and then visit a local village family but Sabine, the Director and Henrick, one of the founders and owner of The Small Hotel', all the kids had come out to say hello, I felt mildly embarrassed by the attention but had a wonderful time there playing with the kids. Thank you everyone for staying back and accommodating me.  One of the most ebullient of the kids is HIV positive, when you find out that sort of thing, it really brings you back to Earth and makes you more appreciative of your own situation.

The children and teachers

A little history

 Henrik started the organisation together with some ladies in England. Actually, before the Goodwill Center was built, someone used to teach English under the neighbour's house. Henrik supported them with notebooks, pens etc., and when Vall Colle who is now the chair of 'Help the Cambodian Children' came to Cambodia as a tourist and stayed at The Small Hotel.  Henrik brought her to see these English classes. That's when they decided to set up a proper charity and build a proper school. This school became The Goodwill Center. Henrik used to be one of the trustees but stepped back from his official position a couple of years ago due to being increasingly busy with his business, The Small Hotel. He is still very much connected to the organisation, and quite some of the donations are coming in through his family and friends and through guests at the Small Hotel.