Tuesday, 28 August 2012

ahead of the game and updates


Some of you may remember some months ago where we used $50 donated by Jenny from Nymboida to install a toilet at a Cambodian villagers house.

The toilet that Jenny's donation built

Some may laugh but the lack of toilet facilities over here is a real problem.  A news report indicated as many as 10,000,000 Cambodians have no access to a toilet and this probably contributed to the recent EV-71 disease outbreak that resulted in the deaths of some 70 children across Cambodia a few months ago.  So serious is the issue, it seems Bill and Melida Gates (everyone will probably Bill Gates of Microsoft fame, he retired some years ago to use his fortune, joined with Warren Buffett's, to do humanitarian work) feel similarly to us and have just announced they are investing some $11 Million into the initiative of adding toilets to communities in the region. They are also  investing in trying to design a better toilet for use in the developing world.  So well done to them and well done to you guys for similarly helping, albeit in a much smaller way.

Now, where is my pirated copy of Windows 8 <grin>

Romdual School Desks

The desks have been finished and transported out to the school, we hope to get a photo of them in-situ.  No one remembered to take a photo of them being transported.  Thanks to your donations, the kids don't have to sit on the floor and we have given them part of the cost of a teachers wage for a year, when they have recruited a teacher. (Monthly salary $70, of which we have committed to $10 x 12 months = $120)

Steung Hav School Cover

The construction of the school cover is well underway.  We were sent some photos recently.
Steung Hav shelter foundations

Steung Hav shelter

You guys paid for this, somewhere for the kids to play during the monsoon season, out of the mud.

Site update

A minor modification to the links section has been made, with the update leading to other interesting organisations doing good work locally, ones we're involved with closely.  For those not in the know, the links are on the RHS near the top.  
Go to the top right section of the blog to find this information

I have taken a sample screen shot to indicate the changes.

Thursday, 16 August 2012

That was then, this is now

That was then 

Every now and again Cambodia's recent history slaps you in the face as a reminder as to why their country is like it is.  No, not the ongoing unexploded ordnance left over from the US led Australian backed Vietnam War exploding, still killing and disabling farmers and children to this day but the even more odious history of the Khmer Rouge.  While the ongoing, seemingly farcical Khmer Rough trials are happening, events like the continual unearthing of Killing Fields are a not so subtle reminder of recent history.

A newly unearth Killing Field in Siem Reap (picture from Phnom Penh Post)

Visiting such sites is extraordinarily emotive for anyone with any empathy for humanity

1 of 1000's of skull at Choung Ek Killing Field
(we did last year, more photos here) even for those of us not involved, I can only image the emotions of those actually finding the remains of relatives.

This is now

Of course the result of all of the above is the society observed today, on a "GDP per Capita" basis. Cambodia is near the bottom in terms of the wealth of it's citizens when compared to other nations. Not that many nations have not helped. Billions of dollars of Aid had been poured in, often misdirected with misdirected oversight by large bureaucracies and the ineptness this invariably brings (not a slight on anyone in particular, it's simply an unfortunate side effect of the implementation of large projects anywhere, by anyone).  The result ? A grinding poverty for many.

While we are forever mindful of the Chinese proverb about "teach a man to fish..." it's not so easy when directly confronted with incredible grinding poverty to ignore the plight of ones fellow human being.  Where, while trying to teach them to fish, which we do here every day by helping here and here for example, they struggle to eat in the interim.  With that in mind we organised another parcel of food, 

with the proviso the children of the families we help keep attending school etc, this temporarily keeps pressure off the family, hopefully keeping the children at school and not having to be put to work to help feed the family.

It's been a hard week, but not so much different from every other week.  To lighten the load a little, we could of course always refer to the immortal George Carlin-

Give a man a fish and he will eat for a day. Teach him how to fish, and he will sit in a boat and drink beer all day

Thursday, 9 August 2012

Streets, desks and death

Monthly Reconciliation

That time of the month again, the "books" have been balanced.  You can see whats going on by going to the Financials Page if you're interested.

Desk for Romdual School

The first desk for Romdual School has been built, we have committed $320 to funding the purchase of 10 desks and helping fund the salary of $70 a month for the new teacher, our commitment there is $10 x 12 =$120.   All in US Dollars.

School desks

The builder will be on a roll from here and have them knocked out in no time.  For those of you new to the blog, the school is a tiny affair in the rural area on the outskirts of Sihanoukville, on the Ream Rv.

Whale Shark

A Khmer friend of ours called us up, saying there was a "big dolphin... very big dolphin" down at one of the local fishing villages. We had a couple hours free, so we jumped in his tuk tuk and headed off, mildly intrigued but knowing this was not going to be a "Seaworld" or Disney type experience.  After some zigging, a lot of zagging and much cursing as my tailbone was shoved up through my spine on the rough road.  We parked up and trekked through a maze of small alleyways...  I spotted it lolling lifelessly against the peer and new instantly what it was, an immature whale shark, tied up to the side of the pier, being butchered.

All in all I found it pretty confronting but then observing the abject poverty of the locals on the way there, it's very understandable. To them this is enough food to feed many families.

Saturday, 4 August 2012

Phnom Penh and Donations

Donations Update

Thank you to Dave and Nadine Bromhill for there recent donation as well as Chantel for mailing items to us here in Cambodia for use by the local Khmer kids.  Also a thank you to Ann Smith, Trevor's Mum for her wonderful donation along with a mystery donor for her insistence in helping out Mong's family after his fathers recent medical issues.  Of course we can't forget our regular donors Richard and Bernadette. It may seem like we carry on about this but honestly, this whole thing only works with you guys helping out, the money goes a long way over here and is really appreciated.

Even if you think you can't help, $5 or $10 can make a huge difference, especially if there are many people making similar donation amounts.  

Moving Along

Sometimes the poverty slaps you in the face, most of the time you harden yourself and ignore it. Those of you having travelled to developing countries will have some understanding but living with it is a whole different paradigm.  This little fellow

approached, as is often the case, with ribs poking out while we were eating dinner at a cheap hole in the wall cafe begging to be fed.  Feeding them is bad as it encourages them to be away from their homes (mind you one has to wonder at the quality of the home life is this is a better option), so here I am a comparatively fat, sweaty pale westerner ('barang' is the local colloquial term for all foreigners), how could a human do anything else except give him my meal... which he proceeded to ravage.  I am not saying this is anything special, it's very common and Cambodia is still a country where people actually die from starvation. I just happened to have my camera with me that night.

Phnom Penh

During the recent closure of all schools in Cambodia due to an EV-71 virus outbreak and the subsequent deaths of some 60 small children, we managed a quick trip to Phnom Penh for a couple of days.  We caught up with a young artist from Sihnaoukville whom we have befriended, Chow Maily.

Mailey and two of his entries, to his right 

He was part of  an exhibit of young Cambodian artists being shown at one of the local small galleries and advised us he had just won a full scholarship to Phnom Penh to study architect.  He will have a bright future if he can stick to it and not be distracted. We can only wish him all the best for the future.

We also took a walk down to the Mekong Rv in the early morning.  Phnom Penh lies on the confluence of the Mekong and Tonle Sap Rivers (the river coming down from Angkor Wat)