Distribution of Materials in Som Roung Village

Continuing on from a distribution project started back in Spring 2013, SCAO has adapted its distribution of materials to the poorer families in Som Roung Village. The project started off by distributing rice and fish sauce to families. Now we have had more donations of various different materials from all over the world.

Fifty of the more vulnerable families in Som Roung were invited to SCAO II on Sunday the 17th of August. At 8am as the volunteers started to organize the materials, the families started to gather around the school. It was organized that the families would receive clothing that was donated by various volunteers who had worked with SCAO previously. These items of clothing ranged from young infants to adult clothes in both men’s and women’s styles.

The clothing accompanied the main material bag that the families would receive.
This bag contained the following:
5 bars of soap
toothbrushes
toothpaste
1 mosquito net

With the rainy season approaching within a month, these items will be essential to the families in the village. With the rising water, comes stagnant water and stagnant water is an ideal breathing ground for mosquitoes. Malaria is not a major concern in Cambodia, but Dengue Fever is. Dengue Fever cannot be treated and there is no medicine or vaccination you can take to prevent it. However, through the correct use of a mosquito net you can reduce the risk of a mosquito biting you or your family. Mosquito nets are a highly valued household item that is essential for a family living in rural Cambodia.

SCAO would like to thank the following for their generous donations that helped to make this project a success:
Rotary Club Phnom Penh in conjunction with other Rotary Clubs worldwide.
Jean and James Downey
Rebekka Nagy
Kathy Walsh
Nicola Corless
KPMG Singapore
CIA FIRST International School, Phnom Penh

This distribution project is something that we would like to keep running long into the future. If you would like to get involved or if you would like to donate items to SCAO please do not hesitate to contact us through email: info@savechildreninasia.org

Teacher Training at SCAO

In the end of June SCAO II hosted an Irish volunteer Kathy, a teacher with 9 years experience, who was very kind to provide two teacher’s training in both schools. As for new volunteers, as for Khmer assistants, fresh breath of new and slightly different vision of education was very productive and useful.

At the training Kathy and teachers were speaking about classroom management and classroom control, teacher and student position and lesson planning. Kathy was sharing her experience in Secondary school in Ireland, and how she sometimes manages trouble behavior and issues in the classroom. Although, she admitted that because of cultural difference and not similar background of the students, she wouldn’t use the same approach in Cambodia what she’d use in Ireland. She gave some good examples of type of situation where she would act very different with Irish and Cambodian student.

Kathy also pointed at importance of lesson planning, what was introduced in schools by previous Education Officer Natasha. Kathy highlighted that each lesson should have different type of activities so student’s won’t lose their attention, what especially important with the youngest ones.

In very informal and relaxed way Kathy and teachers were sharing their classroom stories and finish very satisfied about the meeting. Kathy also left her email address so anyone who faces not easy solving situation can write her and ask for advice. After visiting SCAO Kathy went for her vacation around Cambodia.

How to Volunteer: Getting Started

Carl, one of the many volunteers I’ve had the pleasure of working with! Gives some good advice in this blog post!

VOLUNTEERING ABROAD

Your keen to volunteer. The boarding gate is calling your name and you feel the excitement crawling through your veins. Adventure awaits and the world is your oyster. Your already looking online at flight specials, then you realise “I don’t know where the heck I’m going and what I can do?”. Never fear, help is here.

Below are 7 important steps I believe every volunteer should take before getting on the plane to make a positive difference.

Getting Started

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Being sick Abroad!! Make the most of your time on the toilet!

The days of pulling a sickie to out of going to school were some of the best days of your childhood. If your parents had to go to work you could just sit on the couch all day and watch cartoons all day long. You did have to ensure that you were back up in bed before they arrived home or else you would have to have a good cover story to be walking around the house. However when you are actually sick it is a whole different story.

The same goes for when you are working abroad. If you want to get out of a meeting your just not prepared for you can always use the iron clad excuse of having a ‘bad stomach’, which is code for having the shits, runs, trots, scutters, squirts or if you want to be politically correct; diarrhoea. Of course once you say this there are no more questions asked, because to be honest who wants to go into the details of someone else’s bowel movements.

It is very common for Westerners to get diarrhoea while they are travelling or living abroad. This is basically down to the new foods that you are eating and new bacteria that is making its way into your stomach. Again some people can get it worse than others, and this is purely down to luck and how your body reacts. It is inevitable that you will get it at least once!

I was luck with my time in India that I did not suffer too much, in comparison to other people I was living with.  I do recall one time while out on a field visit to a project outside Kolkata City. It was about 42°C and I had brought a two litre bottle of water with me, it was not enough!!  After about 2 hours I had exhausted my bottle and there were no shops out in the slum areas selling water. There was however water from the taps in the slums. I realise now and I realised the next morning that drinking that water was not a good idea, but at the time I would have drank anything to quench my thirst. I remember by colleague saying to me that I will get sick. My response, ‘I know, but that’s future Peter’s problem’. Needless to say, I was awoken to a deep grumble from the depths of my bowels and had to make a quick dash to the toilet.

When you are abroad with other volunteers conversations about bowel movements are common and no one ever judges someone else on what they say. In fact sometimes they even take place over the dinner table. Everyone is in the same boat when we are abroad, and people help each other out when someone gets sick, be it offering advice, medicine or just good company.

When you are reading this now you probably think that I have the shits, but I don’t, and I actually haven’t had them in some time (touch wood) I do however have a terrible ear infection, and to be honest I’m not sure which one is worse. I’ve had this ear infection for four days now and I finally decided to go to the doctor today to see if it was anything more serious, and of course it wasn’t, but it’s better to be safe. An ear infection is terrible because it is constant, it is always there and it’s right in your head. It also affects what you can eat because at the moment I cannot chew without immense pain. This morning’s breakfast consisted of scrambled eggs and baked beans, all foods that can be ‘chewed’ by your tongue. I am now starting to feel better, but this may just be the amount of painkillers that I’m on at the moment. So it basically means that I’m on antibiotics for the third time in my life, and the second for an ear infection. I don’t like taking them, but in some circumstances it is better than the alternative of riding it out!

So moral of the story, while you are travelling abroad you are going to get sick, there is no denying it! When you do seek the necessary treatment, rest and drink plenty of fluids. If someone else is sick, be nice, offer some comfort or just chill and watch a movie with them, the company may distract from the illness.

What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger!

Welcome To The Jungle – Day Three

Welcome To The Jungle

Day Three

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Again with too much delicious Cambodian beer consumed the night before I woke with a dry mouth and a throbbing headache. Clambering out of my mosquito net I stumbled across Lukas who didn’t make it to bed but instead slept outside on the balcony of the bungalow. Grabbing the closest bottle of water I quenched the morning cotton mouth! Lukas was also pleased when I woke him with a bottle of water! The only instant cure for this hangover was to simply jump into the free flowing river that we were lucky enough to have at our door step. I spent the next 30 minutes floating in an inflatable tire listening to the calls of the jungle birds. Leaving the river drift me where ever it liked, and with that washing away my hangover.

After my natural hangover cure it was time for a bucket shower. And for you that don’t have the lucky opportunity to experience this, you are not missing out. Basically there is a large vat of water and a small bucket with a handle. First of all you have to pluck up the courage and mentally prepare yourself for the cold water that you are about to willingly pour over yourself. Anyways I’ll save you the rest of the details but you get the point! However there was one thing to look forward to after the cold shower! Fresh French bread, fluffy scrambled eggs and hot coffee!!

We all gathered around the outside dining table where we sat slightly intoxicated only a few hours ago. Again we discussed the plans for the day and generally chatted. We decided on a trek through the jungle that is located at the rear of the resort. From there it would be a two hour trek through the Koh Kong jungle to a spectacular waterfall. Thomas suggested that we should kayak back to the resort from the waterfall. The three of us looked at each other and agreed, ‘and let’s pack some beer too’ But first it was time for a chill out and just spending a few hours relaxing in the hammock on the balcony.

Packing a few supplies such as water and sun cream into a bag we headed towards the back of the resort and Thomas showed us the boundary of his land and the protected national park. From here we started the steep climb up through the mighty jungle, precariously scanning the path ahead of every footstep. This was jungle territory and we are just visitors, snakes, spiders and other wild animals ruled this rugged terrain, we would have to steer clear of them and not the other way around!

The first ten minutes of the trek was all up hill and was kind of strenuous because I haven’t done any kind of exercise since I had left Ireland, this combined with over 30°C humid and sticky heat and you get the picture (I was sweating major balls) But it got better further on, the land flattened out and the path now turned into a nice leisurely walk. Being in the jungle you imagine that you will see all kinds of exotic animals and insects, however this is not the case. It is not that they are not there, they are just deep in the jungle and usually do not stay on the trekking path. You can however hear their various calls and sounds coming from the wilds off the path. While on our trek we came across several different species of spiders that had set up their webs in the line of the path we were taking. There were two or three occasions that Thomas, who was leading us, would get a spider web to the face but luckily there were no spiders there at the time.

While continuing on the path with relatively no problems, cue, another f*****g snake. Thomas who was leading us spotted it and quickly skipped ahead warning us of the snake that had just crossed the path. I was the next behind Thomas and I had to make the split second decision of whether to retreat back to Julius and Lukas, or quickly move forwards past the snake to relative safety. I chose the latter and quickly hopped past the snake, that I couldn’t see by the way, and we waited for Julius and Lukas to cross. The snake was a grey viper with black stripes around a metre long. This snake may be small but its bite was enough venom to kill an adult human in two hours. And to think that if someone had been unlucky enough to get bitten we still had an hour trek ahead of us to the waterfall, and then to try to get to a doctor in Koh Kong City, the odds wouldn’t have been in our favour!! Successfully guiding Julius and Lukas past the intense looking snake we continued on.

Like yesterday, the first indication of us getting closer to the waterfall was the sound of rushing water. When we emerged from the clearing we cast our sights out upon a vast area of chaotic rock with water rushing over and around and eventually cascading down the overhang into the pool below. We quickly made our way down to the water’s edge, stripped down and jumped into the revitalizing river. It didn’t take us long to find a safe area to jump off of into the water below. This satisfied the itch that we just couldn’t scratch at the waterfall yesterday. We started off with some harmless jumps and twists, then moving onto front-flips. And that’s where we should have stopped. The suggestion of a backflip should never have even been considered. Unfortunately my ego and confidence got the better of me. Standing on the edge of the rock with my back to the water I bent my knees and sprung off back towards to water. It seemed to be going well until I realised, mid-air, that I had over rotated the jump and my back was now going to take the full brunt of my mistake. With an almighty slap, my back hit the water and with that the air was knocked out of my lungs. I emerged from the water with a searing hot sensation on my back and gasping for air. Realising how stupid I probably looked, I decided to call it a day with the rock jumping.

We made our way over to the boat from Neptune Bungalows that had sailed over to join us whilst we were trekking through the jungle. It had brought with it the kayaks that we were going to use as our transport home. But it’s most precious cargo was the ice cold beers stowed away in a cooler box. We sat chatting on the rocks for a while enjoying the last few warm rays of sun with a cool beer in our hands.

With the sun setting on our backs we took to the kayaks, we had an hour paddle through the meandering river that was hugged by this immense green mangrove forest. Paddling through a river completely isolated as the sun is going down is one of the most peaceful experiences I’ve ever experienced. Besides the occasional moan from Lukas who was getting tired of all the paddling. As Julius paddled ahead of us it was just a matter of time before we broke out with a rendition of ‘Hey Jude’ by The Beatles, it had clearly been too long since we had been in Heartbreak (which I will talk about in a future blog post) Rounding the last corner we stopped paddling, opened our final beer and let the river drift us towards the pier of Neptune.

After the trek and the paddle we had worked up quite an appetite, and once again we were not disappointed! Tasty fried noodles with vegetables and chicken satisfied our cravings and almost induced a food coma. However we fought it off and settled down in the comfortable plastic chairs around the campfire to enjoy our last night, of course with a few cold ones.

The weekend was one that I was looking forward to immensely and it did not disappoint one bit! There is not one thing that I would change about the weekend. It really was an adventure that included both heart pounding, adrenaline filled moments but also some of the most beautiful and picturesque surrounding imaginable. Koh Kong, we will meet again!

Save Poor Children in Asia Orgainsation (SCAO)

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This is the NGO I am currently working with in a village outside Cambodia’s capital, Phnom Penh. The video is a bit old but the message and the philosophy is still the same. There are poor children in Cambodia that can hugely benefit from a good education. SCAO aims to provide these children with free English classes. Through this the opportunity for a better future for a child is given a solid foundation on which to build on.
Check it out, think about it, and GET INVOLVED!

A Ferris-wheel Khmer Style

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A Ferris-wheel Khmer Style

One day before diner myself an Lukas decided to go for a walk around the village, just to waste time and increase our appetite! Little did we know we would stumble across this Ferris-wheel just sitting on somebody’s land. All the kids loved it!! Full of colours and lights at night it provided good entertainment to the children of the village that were able to afford a ride on it!
We only say it in action at night from the roof of the school. And its safe to say that I would not be getting on it! The speed at which it rotated was insane! If all you pay for is one revolution on it, it would be a waste of money because all I suspect you can see is a big blur as you go round and round!