Monday, August 17, 2015

More than 80 young Students are now First Aid Experts

Steph Kemp and the students during the workshop
During the first week of August, whilst on official school vacation, 80 students aged between 6 and 11 came into school to participate in first aid classes.

Steph illustrating first aid techniques to our students
The workshop was conducted by British first aid trainer and registered nurse, Steph Kemp, who is currently travelling through Cambodia. Steph, who made a stop at the Sylvia Lasky campus on Monday stated that "first aid is the first response to an accident, the actions taken in this time are vital and can often mean the difference between a treatable injury and long-term suffering."

“Accidents can happen to anyone, children are not immune to injuries, nor can we be certain that they may never be faced with a situation that demands their help. Teaching first aid skills equips them with the skills to be able to react in the event of an injury.”

Kids learning how bandaging works
Students were taught how to clean cuts and the importance of a sterile area. Following the theory section of the training students were given the opportunity to practice bandaging arms and legs and to correctly fit a sling for a broken arm. Later on students were posed with the situation of an unconscious volunteer who needed to be placed into the recovery position, ready for help to be found. Through this exercise students were taught to check for danger of injuring themselves, the response of the unconscious person and whether they were breathing, before placing them safely in the recovery position and calling for help.

Students putting into practise what they learned

Steph remarked: "I was astounded at how quickly the children picked up the techniques, these situations can be confusing and not to mention high pressure, but the kids watched the demonstration once and then they could repeat it flawlessly!"

Many of the students left the session inspired stating that they wish to be a doctor or nurse in the future!

Just like Steph, you can join our team and become part of something big. Wondering how to do that? You are only one click away

On a mission to Educate

Our teachers brainstorming new ideas for our students
Helping our students to reach their potential is at the heart of our Education Programs. But to achieve this, we need to ensure that our teachers are effective. It is critical for teachers to receive support to continually develop their own teaching skills and have the opportunity to learn from other teachers as well.

While students were enjoying their school break, teachers and school principals came together to share their challenges and experiences on the classroom. During a period of two weeks, we organized daily sessions for teachers to share ideas, lessons learned and to think about how they can engage students in the classroom.

Our teacher, 
With coaching and interactive sessions, we discussed a variety of topics: new teaching methodologies, ways to use technology to teach, how to track education achievements from teachers.

Sokvorn sharing his experience with the teachers
Mr. Sokvorn Chhim, who has been managing one of our schools for the last couple of years, said: "I liked the workshop very much because everybody participated to share and ask for idea properly. In particular, the new English teachers learned the method and had English teaching practicum. Moreover, we learned how to teach the students with the real life materials, shared how to teach in the library, and teach without textbooks."

Sopheap (left) and our teachers practicing new educational games

Sopheap, our SLMS's principal, expressed his feeling that: "The workshop was really wonderful, I myself feel really proud of all my teachers because they are the great human resources who can help to lead our education program to run smoothly. I hardly believe that most of them really have a lot of good ideas to share in the team. I hope after wonderful workshop our teachers will have much more confidence of teaching methodology and the students will be very happy to learn and improve their English. Our Education Program will be very interesting to all SC staff, volunteers, students and the village families." 

For the next couple of months, the Education team will be using all the data collected in the workshop to improve our curriculum, to ensure that we are giving teachers and students the resources they need to develop and grow.

Interested in learning more about how we are educating kids in Cambodia? Visit our website.

Dragonfly Transitions students visit us in Cambodia

Dragonfly Transitions Students in KBFC classroom
For the last five years, different groups of Dragonfly Transitions students come to Cambodia and spend three weeks sightseeing, doing volunteer work and learning about Cambodian culture and its people. This trip provides an unique life-experience to these students.

After some days visiting Phnom Penh and volunteering at the Elephant Valley Project in Mondulkiri Province, they arrived into Pursat. Their first stop was visiting our campus and then going to Kravanh Bright Future Center (KBFC) to meet the students and teachers.

As part of an ongoing initiative to help develop KBFC's students English skills, Dragonfly created an annual “English written contest”. Every year, Dragonfly students will take the winners of the contest (along with some teachers) to visit Angkor Wat. This initiative gives the opportunity for our students to learn and be rewarded for their efforts. With the help of Dragonfly, these kids could travel to one of the top landmarks in the world for the first time, something that wouldn't be possible without Dragonfly's help.

Dragonfly team and our students in Angkor Wat
Not only Dragonfly Transitions students help with teaching English to KBFC's students, but they also donated school supplies and materials to 135 students as well as emergency food support to 40 students that will ensure that kids attend classes every day. 

School supplies and food support from the Dragonfly team

But Dragonfly Transitions students contribution doesn't end up in the classroom. They also donated resources to build a gate for our Agriculture Training Center, they install a shallow well, and they work really hard with our team and people in the village to make all these projects happened.

Building the bridge with our team
We couldn't be more grateful for their help and involvement in our projects. Here is a big THANK YOU to this amazing group of students. And some of KBFC students didn't want to miss the opportunity to tell us how they feel about this experience:

Our student Suy Breb
“I am very, very excited to be in Siem Reap with everyone and be able to see the amazing temples. I would like to thank the Dragonfly Transitions team for their wonderful kindness and support to me and other students at KBFC so that we can fulfil our dreams. We promise to study hard in return for their help.” Suy Breb

Our student Norn Sokny
“Thank you very much to everyone in the Dragonfly Transitions team for supporting me and other students at KBFC. With your support, we feel more hopeful to successfully graduate our high school and be able to go on to university. In the future, I hope I can have a good job to support my family and help my community.” Norn Sokny

You and your organization can find more information on how to partner with us and help us to empower rural Cambodians families here

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Crowd-funding campaign

Sustainable Cambodia now has a CauseVox campaign

After many years of steady growth, the sponsorships and grants that kept SC alive have significantly dropped this past year. As part of a new initiative, our onsite volunteer team has now set up a crowd funding campaign through CauseVox. Now ANYONE can easily create his or her own personal campaign on behalf of SC. 

Crowdfunding is not a new concept – after all, soliciting funds from large groups of people is exactly what nonprofits and political campaigns have done for decades! However, the Internet has dramatically altered the ability of non-profit organizations like Sustainable Cambodia to reach out to its vast network of supporters. Websites like CauseVox provide a unique platform for non-profits to showcase specific projects or causes and accept donations. 

The funding quandary

Right from its inception, Sustainable Cambodia has always been funded by multiple sources. While the individual proportions have varied over time, broadly speaking, SC receives its funding from:

The founders and board of directors
Major grants, including Rotary club grants
Corporate sponsorships, usually for specific projects (such as the KBFC school)
Student sponsors and individual donors
Online donations via the website

Two years ago, SC lost a major sponsor for the Kravanh Bright Futures Center (KBFC school), thus reducing its annual funding by nearly $50,000. In the intervening years, thanks to a few generous sponsors and Rotary grants, SC continued to operate the school at its normal capacity. But over the last 6 months a number of big grants have drawn to an end and the ones that took their place haven’t been sufficiently large enough to offset the shortfall. This imbalance, coupled with the fact that online contributions haven’t grown significantly during the same period, has left SC in a very challenging situation.

The campaign

In response to the funding crisis, a group of volunteers launched an online fundraising campaign through CauseVox. SC’s master campaign page allows supporters to donate directly towards the fund raising goal, while also providing the tools for anyone to set up their own individual campaign pages on behalf of SC. This then allows SC supporters to personalize the message to their friends and colleagues and in-turn, recruit them to the fundraising effort.

The journey so far

Over a dozen individual campaign pages have been launched and nearly $900 raised in online donations over the course of a month. 

Campaigners like Dan Ridley and Kate Bleasdale have pledged to run a half-marathon and have begun training in earnest. 
A number of past SC volunteers have also accepted the torch and begun reaching out to friends and family through both their individual campaigns and via social media. While there is still a long way to go before the goal is reached, the response so far has been very encouraging. 

Everyone’s needed!

The power of a crowd-sourced campaign lies in its ability to make the community its ambassadors. Thus we need EVERYONE’s support to raise awareness for SC’s education and community development efforts. Please consider starting a campaign today! Or alternately, share SC’s campaign page with your friends and family through Facebook or email! We need your support, because every dollar donated is money that will go towards a child’s education!

Spreading smiles – on a Tuk Tuk

Tuk Tuk Theatre visits rural Cambodian villages

Children in rural Cambodian villages start helping their parents in their farms from a very young age and rarely ever get to experience much of a childhood. Most of the efforts and funding in Cambodia are typically focused (and rightfully so) on education and health. And so a team of SC volunteers decided to pool their resources and launched Tuk Tuk Theatre. 

Most villages in rural Cambodia are quite remote, with a vast majority of them still lacking electrical power. Children growing up in these villages rarely ever venture out too far from their place of birth, much less travel to urban centers like Phnom Penh or Siem Reap. A few may attend the local school and learn about the world outside of Cambodia, but the stark reality of their lives is that they will be unlikely to ever visit any of these places.

Edutainment – A different approach

A few months ago, a group of 7 SC volunteers decided to come together and pooled their resources to launch Tuk Tuk Theatre. A tuk tuk, that ubiquitous tri-wheeled Cambodian people carrier, was retrofitted with a TV and a sound system and then powered using a large car battery stored under the seat. The modifications to the tuk tuk allowed it to be a truly mobile theatre, capable of operating in remote locations even when there is no availability of a power source. And thus Tuk Tuk Theatre was born!

The goal of Tuk Tuk Theatre is simple – while it’s not possible to send all of these kids on excursions to far off places, it is certainly possible to bring the world to them through a television. By showing movies and nature documentaries, Tuk Tuk Theatre aim to expose kids to the wider world and allow them to dream of things that are bigger than what life currently provides. The hope is that it will one day motivate them to venture out beyond the confines of their village life and seek out these sights and experiences for themselves.

A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step

Since its launch 2 months ago, Tuk Tuk Theatre has visited kids in over a dozen villages and schools showing movies, cartoons and National Geographic documentaries. In late June, the TTT team decided to go on an 800 km road trip around the Tonle Sap lake. The 10 day long trip saw them stop for a showing of Richard Attenborough’s “Planet Earth” at a high school in Battambang, entertain the neighborhood kids in Siem Reap with a fun night of Disney’s “The Lion King”, watched Donald Duck chase Chip and Dale with the kids in the rural village of Okuru Kae, and joined over 50 kids in a friendly game of tug-of-water at an intra-school sport’s festival in Kampong Chang! Follow their journey through their regular blog posts at this link! 

Campaign trails

As with all ambitious endeavors, scaling up will requires the influx of fresh funds. The team has an ongoing crowd funding effort to raise funds to expand on their vision. Visit their campaign page and support them in their innovative effort to spread smiles among the children of Cambodia! Or you can also support them through their website and Facebook page! 

Youthlinc supports SC projects

This past month, Youthlinc again sent students and mentors to visit our Cambodia projects. Youthlinc is nonprofit organization dedicated to creating lifetime humanitarians by offering students and mentors local and international service experiences. Rotary clubs and Rotarians are engaged in helping Youthlinc with this program. This year we had a group of 43 students plus mentors - who came to help with some major projects.

We are grateful for all our supporters around the world, including you, and Youthlinc, and the many Rotarians who are working through Sustainable Cambodia and Sustainable Cambodia Australia to help village families and children. With everyone's help, nearly 400 wells are providing safe water, more than 4,500 students are currently enrolled in our schools, and nearly 25,000 Cambodians have been able to change their lives for the better. None of this would be happening without supporters like you!

This year the Youthlinc team spent 11 days in Cambodia. The projects they focused on at Sustainable Cambodia ranged from education and clean water, to health, road construction, and empowerment in the rural villages.

Each Youthlinc student and each mentor chose activities to participate in during their stay with us. These included installing a clean water well, rooftop rainwater harvesting tanks and water bio-sand filters, constructing and painting a school building, school garden, flag pole, school latrine, reading shelter and the fence, teaching and training (English, sewing, business concepts, health care and more), fixing and making new school desks, and planting vegetables and fruit trees and more...

Youthlinc made a lasting difference in the lives of the families with the projects they completed. The school is now providing education to more than 130 students. The children enjoyed learning. More than 300 village families have benefited from the whole projects, and they have found ways to improve their lives.

Ally: "My time in Cambodia was amazing! The country, but especially the people, stole my heart. Although it was difficult at time being in a large group they truly became my family. My hardest goodbye is one that was captured in a photo. My friend in the village was Stralia, this girl of a common language but this only made our connection stronger. Saying goodbye to her, I held onto the constant hope that maybe one day I will see her again. I love you Sralia! Thank you for teaching me how to love so freely."

Lexi Maggelet
Lexi Maggelet: "Cambodia is filled with the most positive and loving people. I'm so glade I had the change to venture into this country and learn so much. I'm already missing all the beautiful smiling faces like crazy!"

Clair Thomas: Time is a flyin’ (when you’re having fun)! The team put their finishing touches on the projects today! We finished the infamous fence, completed our mural and paintings on the water filters, put the last pile of dirt on the new volleyball court, and concluded our English lessons along with sewing projects. It was a bittersweet moment to see our time here in Cambodia coming to a close with all the sporadic tears and sad faces. Despite the sadness we felt over leaving our friends in Cambodia, the team felt very, very proud of all we accomplished in such a short period of time.

“I never thought I would have so much fun working”.  (That pretty much sums up the day).  Today we began the work portion of our trip, which many would have said they feared the most.  The blistering heat, vicious fire ants, and demanding work seemed daunting to say the least.  However, to the team’s surprise our day was filled with anything but “work”.  Our team reflected on the day of being nothing short of a party.  Endless chitter-chatter, laughs, embarrassing moments, and some work in between started our labor section off on the highest of high notes.  Who would have thought leaving the site would actually be a disappointment? The team was pleasantly surprised and enlightened to see the mutual effort from our side and the Cambodian people’s. Short cuts were learned, hard times were given, and relationships were built on a double-sided bond over getting down and dirty.  The team later reflected on how much they learned and appreciated the insight and cooperation from the S.C. (Sustainable Cambodia) team.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Preschool Children Need a Nourishing Meal

Supporters like you, and Rotarians from around the world, are helping thousands of village children get a quality education through Sustainable Cambodia's community preschools, primary schools, enrichment schools, and university scholarships.

One of our community preschools in Chong Rok village

The village preschools provide young children the foundation for academic learning and the opportunity to learn how to interact with other children.     

The children are introduced to the basics of reading and writing in both Khmer and English so that they may have an advantage upon enrollment in state school.

 Click on the photo to visit our page!

We also provide a food supplement program to support the children at many of our community preschools who otherwise might go without 3 nutritious meals per day. Through training courses given to the community leaders and mothers, the families rotate to cook a nutritious breakfast for the village children. 

 Click here to visit our page!

The preschool program has helped nearly 2,000 children, from ages 1 to 6, who receive education and a nutritious meal six days per week at our preschools.  Parents contribute rice, sugar, and their labor to cook the meals.  Sustainable Cambodia donors contribute funding for the balance of the ingredients for the food supplement program. 

Tatem Preschool

The project has been implemented by the community families themselves, with supervision and guidance from our staff.  The mothers who cook the meals rotate from day to day so that they all learn how to make nutritious meals for their families at home.

Preparing breakfast at Chherteal Rong preschool

The ingredients they use are varied, including cabbage, squash, carrots, eggs, fish, and green vegetables.  Some ingredients are grown in the local community, and the rest are purchased in the local market.

Children having breakfast at Chherteal Rong preschool

The children are always happy when the morning breakfast is served, delicious and early at 7 o'clock!  After the healthy breakfast, the children are better able to focus on learning their basic Khmer and English with a local teacher.

The greatest challenge to our Village Child-Health program is simply funding... We've lost the funding to support our preschools with the food supplement program. 

Uncle Chhuon Khoeum and his youngest daughter

"Our daughter loves going to the preschool with her friends everyday"

Uncle Chhuon Khoeum is 43 years old, and he is a farmer living in Chherteal Roung community, one of our target areas.  He has 4 children and his youngest daughter is studying at our preschool in his community.  His daughter's name is Khatt Leaken, and she is 3 years old. 

When we talked with Uncle Chhuon Khoeum about our preschool in his community, he said: "Thank you very much for helping our community with many projects, especially the preschool and breakfast project for our children.  Everyone is really happy that we have a preschool in our community and the healthy breakfast for the children.  Our daughter loves going to the preschool with her friends everyday.  There she enjoys eating healthy breakfast, learning basic Khmer and English, hygiene and sanitation, and playing with friends.  The breakfast made my daughter and other children so healthy.

Uncle Chhuon Khoeum's daughter and other students having breakfast at the preschool before class

My wife is one of the cooks who helps prepare the breakfast for the children at the preschool.  We also contribute some rice and eggs to that breakfast program.  My wife learned a lot from other cooks and SC's staff about nutrition, hygiene, and sanitation.  She also learned how to work with other people in the community.  The breakfast program is very beneficial to the children and everyone in the community.  We are really sorry that the program has finished.  We really need this program so much for our preschool kids and our community.  Please help make it happen again for our preschool."  

With the help of supporters like you, we hope that we can refund our food supplement program.