Wednesday, 19 September 2012

School Supplies and Finances

School Supplies

One of the projects we have been working towards for a few weeks is getting more of the poorest children to go to school.  Toni has been working with Kolab, one of the Staff at the Goodwill Centre to help identify some of the poorest children.  These are often the ones who have everything against them, losing one or both parents is typically the major contributor.

While the Goodwill Centre does a great job of providing care for children in the community and access to materials and facilities they would never see elsewhere and access to free English language and Computer classes for anyone in the village who wants to improve themselves, the children still have to go to Khmer public school.  One of the requirements to go to school is they must wear a school uniform.  Some have no chance of affording that, so we identified six at risk children who have stopped going because of that and went on a small shopping trip to provide them with two uniforms, a backpack and minor supplies like pencils, books etc.

Kolab with the kids at the local Phsar (market)

In the "change room". measuring up
Everyone into the Tuk Tuk to go back to the Goodwill Center
Back at the Goodwill Center for the obligatory group shot
All up we spent $126 and look at their smiles.

This is one of the things about being here on the ground and forming relationships in the community, you are actually able to help and by maintaining those relationships, continue helping and monitoring into the future. We  don't have to go through a variety of middleman, all taking their legal cut, you don't have to deal with bureaucracy, you just get things done, immensely satisfying but impossible if we had not had the help of all you guys back in Australia, giving donations, thank you so very much.

Changing the Finances

Knowing we were eventually coming back to Australia, we have been struggling for some time to come up with a solution on how best to enable the continual use of the funds.  Transferring money from Aus to Cambodia is expensive, often the fees involved are more than the money itself. The donation money going to Bankers seems a poor use of funds, as does us paying for it personally.

Canadia Bank Account: Cambodian Donations Account

The solution we have come up with is to open a bank account here in Cambodia and transfer the majority of the remaining funds. We then attached an ATM card ($6 fee over here as most don't use them) and leave that with a trusted local,  Jen Hoggett.   Jen is a long term English expat. We met Jen when we first came here and taught English with her at the school in Wat Otres. Jen has been volunteering at the Goodwill Center for over a month and is well respected in the community. We have complete faith in Jen.  We have contacted all the local groups we have dealt with and advised them that if they have projects etc they want funded they are to contact us via email. If we think their project is worthy, we will advise Jen of the amount via email and Skype, she will then withdraw the money from the ATM and they will give her receipts/invoices etc that will be copied electronically and sent to us.

We decided to do this, as from the outset, the money is supposed to be there to help the peoples of Cambodian.  The Cambodian banking system is still quite "old school", yes they have Passbooks and electronic banking is a far away dream, it's probably akin to the Australian banking system in the 1980's. The bank we used is Canadia. We hope everyone agrees this is the best solution ?

In that respect we added the details of the new bank account to the Financials Page, go there if you want more info.


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