A place to learn

On our last day visiting Care For Cambodia schools  with Edukid, we visited a school just outside of Siem Reap. This visit was probably my highlight of the entire trip. The Edukid delegates and children all had a wonderful time. There was so much fun, happiness and laughter. The khmer children fully immersed themselves in our ‘British’ traditional sports day events including a sack race and egg & spoon. The event was finished off with a 1.5km race.

The children were so enthusiastic, cheering each other on and embracing the challenges.

Siem Reap School Sports Day

Sack Race!

Siem Reap School Sports Day

Sack Race!

Siem Reap School Sports Day

Water cup challenge

Siem Reap School Sports Day

Egg and spoon race

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This is also the school that left a lasting impression for me and I would like to do something to help.


All of the schools we visited were established beneath the teachers own home – this school was no exception. The red plastic chairs you can see in the pictures (below) were hired in, especially for this sports day event…because the school doesn’t actually have their own tables or chairs. The children are either taught on the floor or the teacher uses his wooden bed frame as a makeshift table. You can see the bed frame in the first picture. 

Care for Cambodia SchoolCare for Cambodia School Care for Cambodia School

 

 

 

 

 

To buy tables and chairs for this school will cost just £350 and I have pledged to raise the money to fund this for the school. The tables and chairs will be sourced and made within the local village, meaning that the money also goes straight back into the local community.

If you feel compelled to help towards the purchase of the tables and chairs, you can make a donation to my justgiving page and the money will go directly towards helping this school: https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/kistography

The Education system in Cambodia

 

“Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world”

Nelson Mandela

History of education in Cambodia

Over 40 years ago Cambodia’s education system was destroyed at the hands of the Khmer Rouge, which saw the destruction of all schools and intellectuals were executed. Although, since then the education system has been rebuilt – it still has a long way to go.

According to UNESCO, only 1.6 per cent of Cambodia’s Gross Domestic Product (GNP) is spent on education. The GDP on education in most western countries is anywhere between 5.5 to 6.4 per cent.

The number of children entering education in primary school is increasing and the gender gap is closing, however completion rates for primary and lower secondary school are low. Parents are unable to afford the indirect and direct costs of schooling and many children are required to stay home to help with chores, field work or accessing the labour market.

There is also the problem that due to the insufficient funding, there is a lack of quality education and resources. Much of the education centres around learning by rote – rather than child-led and child-centred teaching practices. Also, children often repeat years and there are many over age children in the primary system who have not transitioned into secondary education. This all contributes to the high drop out rates as children are bored and become unmotivated.

There is also a gap in the provision for early childhood education. Less than 26 per cent of three and five year olds have access to early years development opportunities. Social and languages skills are developed in early childhood and it is important to embrace this stage to facilitate their academic success.

We were lucky to have the opportunity to visit a rural State school in the Preah Sihanouk Province (photos below). The school was closed for the summer holidays but even so – the lack of resources, basic equipment, teaching materials and the state of disrepair was concerning. The library was empty – the books worn, tattered and barely usable. 

Cambodian State School

Cambodian State School Library

Cambodian State School Library

Cambodian State School Library

Cambodian State School Classroom

Cambodian State School Classroom

Cambodian State School Classroom

Cambodian State School Classroom

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Schools are frequently overcrowded so often have two shifts – one set of students in the morning and another in the afternoon.


 

NGO support for education is vital.

 

This is where the work of Edukid and Care for Cambodia comes in. Using the donations they receive they provide supplementary education in their village projects during the afternoon and each child is provided with a school pack which contains everything they need to attend school for that year. Edukid currently supports 2015 children.

It was delightful to witness the children receiving their school packs:

Edukid - Cambodia School packs

Edukid – Cambodia School packs

Me with children receiving Edukid – Cambodia School packs

Edukid - Cambodia School packs

Me with children receiving Edukid – Cambodia School packs

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Here are some photos from a few of the CFC run schools we visited during our trip.

CFC school near Phnom Penh

Children enjoying activities in a CFC school near Phnom Penh

CFC school near Phnom Penh

Children enjoying activities in a CFC school near Phnom Penh

CFC school in Preah Sihanouk Province

CFC school in Preah Sihanouk Province

CFC school in Preah Sihanouk Province

CFC school in Preah Sihanouk Province

CFC school in Preah Sihanouk Province

CFC school in Preah Sihanouk Province

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


How you can help:

Through Edukid sponsorship for £20 a month:

  • A school pack containing school bag, uniform and study material for one child
  • One hour’s supplementary education every day after school
  • Supervision and monitoring of the programme both incountry and externally
  • You will receive annual reports, films and lesson plans and further teaching resources.

Download a sponsorship form here

Alternatively you can make a one of donation via my Justgiving pagehttps://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/kistography

SOURCES:
https://www.unicef.org/cambodia/3.Education.pdf

http://www.phnompenhpost.com/columns/education-and-its-role-cambodia

Our Projects

 

 

 

Cambodia

To have nothing, is not an excuse to do nothing.

There are many stories to tell from my time in Cambodia with Edukid and I intend to share them via here, on my Facebook and my Instagram. Some full of hope, some inspiring and some also full of sadness.
 
First off, I’d like to introduce you to the most empathic, selfless, driven, kind-hearted, gentle and caring woman I have met – Bonnie.
 

Watch Bonnie talk about her story here:

 

 
I had the privilege of meeting Bonnie on several occasions during our trip. What struck me immediately, was that consistently she was always putting others first. Whether that be fixing one of the groups broken flip flops, spending a bus journey making origami frogs for one of our younger members, sorting out a confused coffee shop order or cooking for us at the Homestay. It’s just instinctively and intuitively in her nature. No education or training can provide someone with these qualities. However, what education can do is enable someone to embrace those qualities and facilitate opportunities for them, to pay them forward on a much bigger scale. Bonnie had the tenacity to recognise this, when she decided at a young age that she wanted to study medicine. Her desire to study medicine was instigated after she witnessed a pregnant lady and her unborn child die – because they were unable to afford medical care.
 
However, as Bonnie conveys during the video – studying medicine was going to be fraught with barriers. Notwithstanding the cost, there was the fact her parents didn’t want her to have an education as they felt she’d be better off earning money collecting recycling, then marry a man and become a housewife – a fate already decided for many girls in Cambodia.
 
Fortunately, Edukid were able to find a sponsor for Bonnie to allow her to attend university and study medicine. Her sponsors were among the delegates on my trip and it was an honour to be there the moment that they met each other for the first time. Through their generosity, Bonnie will be finishing her medical studies in 2018 and she hopes to become a gynaecologist.
 
Of course, Bonnie has bigger dreams than “just” being a Gynaecologist. She has ambitions to also open a clinic in the slum areas of Phnom Penh. There she will offer free health care to those who are unable to afford it (all delivered around her “day job”). Already, still in training, she makes herself available 24/7 to anyone who needs medical care (often woken at 2 or 3am to see people).
 

A truly altruistic and magnaminous human being. Hopefully, through Edukid we could make her clinic a reality.

Please consider making a donation to Edukid – my Justgiving page will remain active indefinitely: https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/kistography

Other ways to donate: http://www.edukid.org.uk/donate/

Choum reap lear Cambodia

After an incredible 11 days in Cambodia, sadly, its now time for me to begin my journey back to the UK.

Our itinerary has been so jam packed that its been impossible to blog everything as it has happened, however when I’m back home I fully intend to share the stories, descibe the places we visited, explain the experiences we had and introduce you to the incredible people we have met along the way.

I have so many tales to tell and challenges I want to take on.

From hopelessness to hope.

So yesterday I arrived in Phnom Penh and met up with the Edukid delegates who I will be spending the rest of this week with. We enjoyed an evening meal together and did our introductions. The group comprises of children, teens and adults, from various walks of life, different areas of the Country, but all with the same goal – to try to promote and support the work Edukid does in Cambodia.

 

Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum

Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum

“From hopelessness to hope.” This is how one of the Edukid delegates descibed our day, today here in Phnom Penh and I think this sums it up rather eloquently! Our day started with a visit to S21 Tuol Sleng Museum of Genocide.

Tuol Sleng Museum of Genocide.

Tuol Svay Pray High School sits on a dusty road on the outskirts of Phnom Penh, Cambodia. In 1976, the Khmer Rouge renamed the high school S-21 and turned it into a torture, interrogation and execution center. Of the 14,000 people known to have entered, only seven survived. Not only did the Khmer Rouge carefully transcribe the prisoners’ interrogations; they also carefully photographed the vast majority of the inmates and created an astonishing photographic archive. Each of the almost 6,000 S-21 portraits that have been recovered tells a story shock, resignation, confusion, defiance and horror. Although the most gruesome images to come out of Cambodia were those of the mass graves, the most haunting were the portraits taken by the Khmer Rouge at S-21. Today, S-21 Prison is known as the Tuol Sleng Museum of Genocide. Inside the gates, it looks like any high school; five buildings face a grass courtyard with pull-up bars, green lawns and lawn-bowling pitches. The ground-floor classrooms in one building have been left to appear as they were in 1977. The spartan interrogation rooms are furnished with only a school desk-and-chair set that faces a steel bed frame with shackles at each end. On the far wall are the grisly photographs of bloated, decomposing bodies chained to bed frames with pools of wet blood underneath. These were the sights that greeted the two Vietnamese photojournalists who first discovered S-21 in January of 1979.”

It’s really hard to find words to truely articulate the experience of visiting S21. This was evident as we all gathered at the end of the tour for our Tuk Tuk ride back to the hotel – somewhat pensive, contemplative and reflective. I’m glad that I was in the situation where we visited this as a group, as it enabled us to share our thoughts and experiences on the journey back. We were all touched in different ways by the exhibits. For some it was the reality of standing within the confines of the cramped cells, for others it was seeing the faces of the victims depicted in the countless photos, for me it hit home when I spotted an English man had been caught up in the atrocities. John Dewhirst, aged just 26, was on a sailing trip with New Zealander Kerry Hamill, and ended up in Cambodian waters. Their boat was seized by a Khmer Rouge patrol vessel and they were brought to S21. The circumstances of their deaths are unclear. One thing is for sure, they were simply in the wrong place at the wrong time. About halfway through the audio tour I decided to stop listening as it all got a bit overwhelming. The physical reminders, visual images and paintings were over powering in their own right.

After the museum visit, over lunch we got to meet Care For Cambodia who work in partnership with Edukid. Here we were blessed to meet Srey Da who’s story you can watch here:

Srey Da – Edukid

Tomorrow we will be travelling to Srey Da’s village to see the difference she and Edukid have made in supporting the children to receive an education.

We had a small amount of time to browse the sensory layer cake that is the russian markets. Clothes, jewellery, watches, trinkets, motorbike forks, live crabs, a rainbow of fruit & veg…it’s all sold here! I didn’t buy anything here this time, but thoroughly enjoyed the experience of being there with others as they haggled and bartered for their goods.

Our day was rounded off nicely, when during late afternoon, we all piled into Tuk Tuks and headed off to meet with a group of University students that Edukid are supporting to study. They had organised for us to have a boat ride on the Mekong and they’d prepared a selection of local cuisine for us to eat, which included frog, Amok and fish egg soup! My daughter had challenged me to eat something unusual whilst in Cambodia, so this was the perfect opportunity! I decided to try frog and I’m pleased to say it was actually really tasty!

We had lots of opportunities to mingle and chat with the students. Their grasp of English, significantly better than my Khmer! Their commitment and dedication to their education is inspirational. When we visit the village tomorrow, we will get to meet a number of the students again, as remarkab they now volunteer as teachers in the village, selflessly paying forward their gift of education.

We had lots of fun when we were set the challenge of getting the funniest group photo. Here’s my groups efforts!

 

 

And here is all of us together:

I popped my long haul cherry!

First time long haul flight musings!

This is the first time I have ever flown long haul and it is proving to be an enlightening experience! As I write this, according to the techno wizardry on the screen in front of me, I have flown 2583 miles and I’m currently 37,000 feet above Chelyabinsk (wherever that is?), with 3100 miles left to travel.

1) For weeks I had been suffering ‘anxious, avoidant suitcase attachment disorder’. My mind chewing over what would happen to my precious little pink fella as I travelled between airports from Heathrow > Amsterdam > China > Cambodia. Well guess what…my cheeky little rectangular bag of possessions is making it’s own way there, shadowing me along the route, hopefully meeting me at my destination! How’s about that?!

2) I’m a tech geek kind of girl, so also causing me worry was charging up my various gadgets (the tablet I’m writing this on, my kindle and my iPhone). Well who’d have thunked that in this day and age planes would come equipped with USB charging points… Evidently, not me as Schipol Airport mugged me off £18 for a European power adapter plug!

3) With an 11 hour flight I figured the sensible thing to do, would be to get some sleep… I mean the airline kindly provides a wafer thin blanket, a dwarf size pillow, a scratchy eye mask, ever so slightly reclining chairs, a playlist of soothing and enchanting whale song, seats that only jus accommodate your average size 12 Westener… and luckily for me they also provided me with two adjacent passengers who were more than happy to hog the arm rests for the entire 11 hours! With such comfort afforded to me, I’m sure you can tell I was very appreciative of my two ten minute power naps!

On the subject of arm rests…what’s the deal, because in theatres, cinemas and on planes I always seem to dip out on that front? Answers on a postcard!

4) Nobody needs or should have to endure a hangry Kim. Conscious of avoiding this predicament and oblivious to the seemingly continual provision of free airline meals (having only ever flown budget airlines previously), at Schipol Airport, I decided to grab something to eat. I opted for some unidentified chickeny pizza. Little did I realise I’d get hot meals during each flight. We had two on the 11 hour stretch.

5) …On arrival at Schipol, I was very diligent and checked the departure boards to ensure they married up to the gate information printed on my ticket… ’07’. They did, so I settled myself down for the two hour wait beside ‘Departures 07′, at a charging point (with the aforementioned, gold plated(?), £18 power adapter), to charge my phone and make use of the free Wi-fi. Whilst guzzling down my UI chicken pizza, out of curiosity I thought I’d browse the Schipol Airport website to see what departure information they had for my flight. As I scrolled down, I was immediately perplexed to see that my flight was open for boarding. I looked across at gate 07 and the boards were showing a New York flight.

Confused, I thought I’d look at the airport map. To my horror, I quickly discovered that Schipol Airport was in fact EIGHT times bigger than I’d realised, with gates A through to H! D didn’t actually stand for departures after all! A quick scan of the map revealed I needed G07… Which was over the other frickin’ side of the airport! I hot footed it over there (as fast as one could without looking like a muppet who’d been sat at the wrong gate for the last two hours)! Punctuality is something I pride myself on and I still managed to make it to the (correct) gate with 20 minutes to spare! PHEW! That was a close shave.

6) on a final point….Note to self. China blocks every social media…so no Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, Whatsapp or Twitter for me!! I had to go all retro, old school and people watch there instead!

Why Cambodia?

On the 18th October, I begin my journey to Cambodia and I thought it would be useful to explain what has led me to this point.

Back in July 2014 my daughter (Lois, aged 15) went on a trip with her school to Swaziland with an organisation called World Challenge, for which she had to raise £2200 for. I was incredibly envious, but proud and wish I’d had a similar opportunity whilst I was in school. Two years later, whilst at college, Lois was presented with the opportunity of travelling to Uganda with the charity Edukid. She jumped at the chance. Again, I reflected on what a wonderful opportunity it was and I did explore the possibility of me going too, but work commitments meant it wasn’t possible.

In 2017 I changed jobs and I heard that Edukid were arranging a trip to Cambodia in October 2017. I made contact with Chris who runs the charity and after meeting him I decided this was definitely something I wanted to do, so signed up that day.

Who are Edukid?

Edukid is a Christian UK registered charity that helps children living in poverty and conflict have an education.

In the territories we support Edukid avoids imposing ‘western ideals’ by partnering with local people and organisations, helping them to develop projects born out of their deeper cultural understanding of what is needed and likely to be effective.

Many of these local partners are themselves living in poverty so Edukid acts responsibly and ethically in the way it financially supports their efforts.

Many former students from our scholarship programmes are now ‘giving back’ by helping Edukid.
SOURCE: http://www.edukid.org.uk/about-us/

Having worked within education and with children for over 10 years, the work Edukid does is something I am really passionate about. One other thing that appealed to me about Edukid is the work that they do with schools in the UK. They run a National Schools Programme where they link children from their projects in Africa, Asia and the Middle East, with schools in the UK. This enables the schools to build relationships with the children that they support.

Watch this video to see what Edukid does in Cambodia

 

 

Even though I’ve reached my individual fundraising target, you can still donate to my fundraising and the money will go directly to Edukid: https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/kistography

My first 4 days of travel will be independent, where I will get to explore some of the Country myself (based in Siem Reap), before joining up with the rest of the Edukid participants on Sunday 22nd October. 

Watch this space as I hope to post regular updates whilst I’m travelling.