Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Our accomplishments over the last 16 days

13 water wells built , helping about 400 people access clean water
2000 toothbrushes and toothpaste distributed to schoolchildren
About 600 pieces of children's clothing and shoes distributed
3 volleyball courts erected
21 ceramic filters and plastic water containers placed in classrooms
6 classrooms painted with happy colors
50 soccer balls pumped up
120 soccer uniforms distributed
20 new hula hoops played with
20 jump ropes jumped with
Hundreds of paper airplanes made and pictures colored with crayons
3 shelves in 3 libraries filled with English books
40 English books recorded on tape
3 battery operated boom boxes given to English teachers
288 journal entries written and read

A new song sung  by 1000 young voices:

I Can

I know I can (I know I can) 
Be what I wanna be (be what I wanna be) 
If I work hard at it (If I work hard at it)
I'll be where I wanna be (I'll be where I wanna be)
(lyrics and music by Nas)

Our last day...

Today is our last day in Cambodia, we fly out tonight. The day was spent with presentations from everyone in the class, we had six teams of three. We reflected on the experiences we've had the last 16 days, some sad, but most funny. We will all miss Cambodia but it will be nice to get home.

Baxter, Athan, and Matt during their recap presentation

Royal Palace and back to Siem Reap

We visited The Royal Palace in Phnom Penh, it had an enormous courtyard, dancing hall, a building donated by Napolean III, a Buddhist temple with silver and gold form the floor to the ceiling, and The Silver Pagoda. "It's good to be the king."

We made our way back up to Siem Reap via bus and after the long ride we stopped by one of our schools. With the money we had fundraised we decided to have some of the rooms painted, a volleyball net built, and some water filters set up around the school (to make the well water potable). It was nice to the see the upgrades and the students after not seeing them for a few days.

Classroom with new paint

Water filter

New volleyball net

At The Royal Palace

Kate and Tara at The Royal Palace

Back from Phnom Penh

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Down to Phnom Penh

Two days ago we made the 8 hour bus ride from Siem Reap to Phnom Penh, it took most of the day. Yesterday we visited the historic genocide museum- Toul Sleng S-21, it is a school converted into a prison camp  during the civil war and is believed to be responsible for 20,000 deaths. We then visited the Killing Fields, where thousands and thousands of prisoners we executed. There is an enormous memorial that contains skulls and other bones, it is a little morbid but it is how they they honor all that were killed during the civil war and Khmer Rouge reign. We finished up the day with a tour of beautiful Watt Phnom, a Buddhist temple.

S-21 prison camp

Inside S-21

Mass graves at the killing fields

Wall Phnom

Inside Watt Phnom

Friday, January 20, 2012

Last day at the schools

Today was our last day of instruction at the two schools, we spent a majority of our time handing out books for them to take home (we also stocked their library) and giving them clothes. We taught them the game "Hangman" on the blackboard and enjoyed playing soccer and volleyball. It was emotional for the young students as we said our goodbyes, they treated us with a singing farewell of a song we have spent the last two days teaching them. It left quite an impression on all of us, as we rode away in our van we discussed how great it be to return to the schools someday.

We also visited the Forno Family and Van Soest Family sponsored wells yesterday, they were the last wells we were to visit while we are here. It was great to see the multiple families that the utilize the well (each well is normally used by 3-4 families). Specially after seeing the stagnant water they had become accustomed to.

The Forno Family well

Stephany and Jian teaching the kids "Hangman"

6th Grade class

Kate with some of the children that use her sponsored well

The Van Soest Family well

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Teaching and more teaching

We've spent the last two days teaching at two schools. One is a primary school with a secondary school (K-9), we teach there in the morning and in the afternoon we teach at a primary school (grades 1-6). It's been a very rewarding experience working with all of these young children, there are usually about 70-90 children in each class and we are divided into teams of 6 to instruct the children. We are teaching mostly English at this point. The work ethic and motivation of the children we are working with is truly inspirational, there are some very bright young students and they make teaching them an enjoyable experience.

We've seen all of the wells now, the well donated by the Loudon Family in memory of Joseph Payne Patrick Loudon is pictured below. We were also able to see the finished well sponsored by Jian, Athan, Paul and Tyler. We even had time to get a game of soccer in at our morning school.

"The first ever Cambodia US combined team soccer match was played at  Ta Pang school. It was hot like hell at 11:30 am yet the students played like mad. It finished with 1:0 and goal posts made from a freshly cut down tree. We have had some difficulty inflating all the 50 balls as the pump broke down then we bought a bike pump and had to scour Siem Reap to find a needle for the balls. But we did manage of course and kids are so happy at recess playing all sorts of ball games."

In front of the primary school

Matt Loudon in front of his well

Britney working with the students

Completed well, it was nice to the process

Soccer game

A class of 92 students

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Schools, wells, and an orphanage

This morning we dropped off school supplies to the bigger of the two schools we are working with. It has a primary and secondary school (grades K-9). We continued our English lessons with them which consists mostly of basic greetings, colors, and their family. We spent recess with them which is always a blast, volleyball, soccer, and anything you think of that involves a volleyball or soccer ball. On our way to lunch we stopped by the Devries Family well. The local family there was incredibly grateful. After lunch at our favorite spot with the hammocks we headed out to see school number 2, where English lessons continued. In the evening we stopped by the O'Regan Family sponsored well, it supports a farming family and is accessible to much of the nearby village. We then visited an arts-and-crafts workshop that gives children an opportunity to raise a little money, it doubles as a housing facility for orphan children too.

Tara Bhatnagar-
"I felt great happiness when I saw the well we sponsored, knowing that the contribution by my family was helping such amazing people. It is a priceless emotion. I was surprised to find out that the new baby's mom at the well had given birth two days ago. Back home the baby and mom would still be in the hospital. Life is very different here, but that is not a bad thing.

Although these people have much less than we do, I can honestly say they are much happier than very wealth people I have met. cambodia is making me appreciate all that I am priviledged with."

The children are eager play in their new well (thanks to the Bhatnagar Family)
Devries Family well

O'Regan Family well

Orphanage/ arts-and-crafts facility

Students enjoying new toys