For some time Paleriders – Cambodia has been supporting our local village pagoda with their building fund. The pagoda is a work in progress, as money comes in a bit more work gets completed. Recently though, work started on a schoolroom and we decided to get involved in the project.
Originally there was a big, old wooden dormitory building for the monks but it had become termite infested so it was demolished. The timber was sorted through, anything still good was put aside and is being used to build a smaller dormitory. Work has also commenced on a brick and concrete schoolroom. A generous donor from Australia has contributed $500 which paid for 10000 clay bricks, and Paleriders – Cambodia donated two tonnes of cement.
The school will be used to teach small kids, novice monks and also for English lessons for High School kids.
On my recent trip back to Baray I found that good progress has been made at the school since I last saw it in January. Some people I work with in Laos had given me money to buy another 1.5 tonnes of cement for the project. Next thing needed are desks, about 20 of them. I’ll go to Kampong Cham next time I’m there and buy them.
On my last trip to Baray, in January, I was able to have a toilet built at the school at Chuuk Ksach Pagoda. Two generous donors, one in Laos and one in Australia, had given me $400 to put towards the project. On my next trip home I’ll get a well put in, and buy some swings for the kids. The same donor in Laos and another one in Australia have put in more money for that.
Most of us take toilets for granted, but the truth is that most of the kids who go to this school don’t have a toilet to use at home. Unreal as it may seem, there more likelihood of a rural Cambodian having a mobile phone than a toilet. To the kids this humble little outhouse means a great deal. I’m looking forward to getting the swings for them.
Finally the Paleriders School is finished. We had a small opening ceremony on December 5, attended by children, parents and village elders. Monks came and blessed the school, then everyone shared a meal of Khmer noodles and fish. Next part of this project is to construct a toilet block, we will start on that in January.
Thanks to all the generous supporters who made this school possible.
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.