Sunday, 10 June 2012

more happenings...

Two New Looks

The blog site's "new" look

For those of you who receive an email of the blog posting, you won't have noticed but we have completely redesigned the site. This allows us to be more "viewer" friendly for those of you with mobile devices like Android phones & tablets and iEverythings as well as make the site a little more modern and "funky" (can I use the word funky at my age ? )  We may add a twitter feed in the future, so we too can be a bunch of "twits" :)

The other thing you missed by receiving the email is the video of the kids "dancing", I would encourage you to visit the blog site and watch the video, it's wonderful to see the kids imitate the traditional Khmer dancing they see on television.  

You can visit the blog site by clicking the link here (and bookmarking us) to see the new layout.  You can play around with different layouts to find the one that suits you by clicking the Sidebar tag at the top left, links on the right had side will "pop out" as you run your mouse over the think black strip of the sidebar and various pages can be browsed to in the header at the top of the page.

Toni's "new" look

I was invited to my first Khmer wedding the other week and like every woman on the planet, I didn't have anything to wear and I fretted about my hair.  I decried make-up, as 2 minutes of sweating in the humidity makes you look like a zombie if you're not used to the heat .  Eventually, I went across the road to a little shop that has a Khmer hairdresser and with much gesticulating, laughing, head shaking and a phone call to a Khmer friend who could translate, I had my hair done in the traditional style over here, all for $3.  Trevor insisted on taking a photo

"Dolled up", a guest at my first Khmer wedding

The weddings are an interesting affair. I had no idea who the Bride and Groom were and the weddings are  a huge, elaborate event, like they often are in the West, with a few confronting differences.  The wedding is inevitably outdoors under a marquis, on a dirt floor; dogs running in and out grabbing discarded morsels, the poorest of the poor stand around the outside looking in hungrily and little kids darting in to collect empty beer cans they can sell to the metal recycler for a few cents.  I wondered later why the bride didn't seem particularly happy, I assumed the stress of organising such a big event. It was confronting to find out later it was an arranged marriage and she didn't want to get married at all.

Groom (L) Bride (R) and bridal party

Another interesting difference is the event is supposed to be a money making affair, to help the new bride and groom for the future. Something that seems very sensible when you think about it and why they are such HUGE affairs.


First off a big thank you to Trevor's sister, Andrea, in Brisbane.  She has been helping a young local artist over here in Cambodia by purchasing and mailing him art supplies.  She has paid for it out of her own pocket (postage is very expensive) and it's incredibly generous of her.  He is a young teen age boy and he makes a living for his family selling cheesy art to tourists but has aspirations of attending art school, producing quality work and bettering himself, exactly the sort of person we love helping.  We are going to commission him to do a couple of pieces on our behalf.

We want to thank all the people in Australia who have helped out. If you do want to make a small donation please visit our donations page and follow the instruction there.  Just a reminder, donations via Paypal have a small admin fee taken out by pay pal, so anyone living in Aus should use the direct deposit bank account details listed.


One of the oddities that we have observed is that people will often donate money to a "project". We see it regularly, with lots of great work being done and then there is no follow up on how to keep the project running.  For example, it seems senseless to spend money to build a school if there are no funds to run it... so there are many projects that struggle to stay alive for a lack of funds after the initial good deeds have been done.  Of course paying local teachers wages is not as sexy as building a school but is possibly even more vital as it allows the teachers, who are local people in their communities, to earn enough money to feed themselves and their family.  A good wage for a teacher over here is $150 a MONTH... yes, you read that correctly, a MONTH...  One of the commitments I made to the Goodwill Centre prior to taking the position of Operations Manager was to pay the wages of the Khmer staff for two months, we did that last month and covered it in this blog post here.  This month the staff did a little sign up to show their appreciation. 

Goodwill Center staff saying thank you !

The kitchen

The other project we paid for was to help rebuild a kitchen of a villager.  This is the same family with 'Dunstan Dunny'. You may remember we were invited during Khmer New Year to their place for lunch and the kitchen itself seemed on its last legs even then.  Since then we have had some torrential rain and the dilapidated shed that was the kitchen has given up, so we paid $135 to supply all the materials to help them rebuild.  Here is what it used to look like from the door

The kitchen

Construction is well underway to stabilise the floor from collapsing.  The rocks were harvested from the hill behind the house, the concrete, galvanised iron sheets, sand, nails and concrete were paid for by the donations fund.  We'll post an update after construction is complete !

Some nice rock & brick work !


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