It has been quite a mission getting a small school built in a village close to where I live in Cambodia. I was approached by the people who built my house back in June 2011, and asked if I could help them get money to build a school. I went and had a look at the site they had in mind, which was in the grounds of their village pagoda. Then we went to the nearest government school, probably not more than 1 kilometre away but in the wet season the road becomes submerged by up to a metre of water so the kids stay at home. This was not an unreasonable request I thought, and I said I’d put in some money and ask around my friends in Australia if they’d like to help. I made the point that they would need to do the all the work, as volunteers and they readily agreed.. Their initial request was for $2000 and I had that amount by August 2011 so they made a start. It soon proved not to be enough however, so I approached a very generous businessman in Perth, Western Australia who had already contributed and asked if he’d help out with some more money. He was only too happy to help, so work began again. However, requests for more money became more frequent and I wasn’t seeing the results I expected for the outlay. When I last went back to my village in September 2012 things were at a standstill and I’d had enough. The floor still hadn’t been done, the internal rendering wasn’t finished, windows were missing and it hadn’t been painted. I purchased enough sand and cement to finish the floor and asked my brothers-in-law to come and work for me. Two of them brought their girlfriends as well. We spent 4 days cementing, rendering, painting and fitting windows and finished it off. I went to Kampong Cham, about 80 km away, and bought 12 timber desks (each for 2 children), a teachers table and chair, and a whiteboard. So for a total outlay of $4700 this little school has been built and furnished. Even though I know some of the money has been “diverted” by the man I trusted to manage the project in my absence, it is still a good result. I hear that they’ve found a teacher, and the school is up and running. I can’t wait to go back and see for myself, and I’ll put in some money for a little celebration.
Responsible Tourism in Cambodia