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Covid and Khmer New Year

Whether you are celebrating Khmer New Year here or Easter in other areas this week, it’s likely very different to the ones we are accustomed to.

In an effort to avoid further spread of the virus the PM has postponed the Khmer New Year holiday in Cambodia, and banned the movement of people between provinces. KNY is traditionally a time when families all gather together in their home states, often in more rural areas, and with a higher population of older people. The annual migration of people at this time had the potential to be catastrophic for the spread of the virus (especially into more vulnerable groups), so the prohibition of it seems a very good idea. Whether it is strictly adhered to will remain to be seen.

In Cambodia in general the recorded number of cases remains relatively low, but it is hard to estimate its true extent due to various factors, such as lack of testing and lack of access to medical facilities. Most tourist businesses, hotels, bars, restaurants are either closed or running at low capacity. Masks are worn by the majority of people and hand sanitizer and temperature checks are common on entering public buildings. Schools are closed and people are advised to stay home where possible but we have not yet seen a full lock down.

At this time the biggest challenges will be faced by the poorer communities, such as the one we serve. The concept of social distancing is near impossible when you share a one room shack with your entire family and barely a foot away are your neighbors. The practice of good hygiene is hindered by no access to running water in your own home and advice to try to stay home is impossible to follow when the alternative of not working is to not feed your family! We must hope the measures in place prove strong enough to prevent the catastrophic damage being seen in other countries at this time. We will continue to work with the community, providing food drops and advice where needed.

While access to the wider world is not possible at the moment I thought I would include a few pictures from some of our group outings from this year to brighten the spirits. As always are thoughts and wishes are with all of you!

 

 

 
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Posted by on April 14, 2020 in 2020

 

Closed for Corona!

As the Corona-virus pandemic worsens the Cambodian government have decided to close schools and organisations in an effort to limit transitions. Before closing we talked all our students through the situation, explaining about the virus; its symptoms, how it is transmitted, the importance of regular hand washing and actions to take if they or a family member becomes ill. We made sure not to impose unnecessary worry while ensuring they understood the need to be conscious of the spread and possible severity of the virus, sending them all home with soaps to use.

The center will remain a port of contact for any families in need of help or assistance and continue to carry out food drops. These will be even more important now that many businesses and jobs are closing or disappearing due to Covid-19 protocols, meaning many families will find themselves in desperate situations. We send our love to everyone and hope for a speedy end to these difficult times.

 
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Posted by on March 21, 2020 in 2020

 

Practicing Hygiene

With limited water in most of our students homes, maintaining hygiene can be difficult. One of the biggest recurring problems is head-lice, which are especially difficult to get rid of in families here as they often share very limited sleeping spaces, meaning the lice can easily spread. We try to do regular checks and medicated shampoos to help control them. Head-lice are so common in Cambodia they are not considered something to be shy about, so everyone gets involved in the hunt for them. We also teach about the importance of hand washing, teeth brushing, and personal hygiene during these sessions, and make sure the students have access to washing facilities whenever needed.

 

 
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Posted by on March 2, 2020 in 2020

 

Happy Christmas To All!

Happy Christmas!!

We would like to wish all of our friends and supporters around the world a very Merry Christmas!

We have had our traditional Christmas party with all the trimmings; dances, plays,games, awards and presents. This year we were also joined by a few of our older ex-pupils, now all in full time and very bright carriers, one working for another charity as a computer technician, one as a teacher and one working for an architecture firm . They came along to talk to the students and their families about the benefits of continuing to study and work hard. We are very proud of their achievements and hope that their visit has helped to inspire some of our current students to aim high. The staff worked extremely hard to make sure everyone enjoyed themselves and went home with big smiles on their faces.

We enter the New Year with hope and wishes for the success and happiness of all those who use and support the center!

 

 
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Posted by on December 23, 2019 in 2019

 

New School Bags!

We have been gifted new school bags for all our students. Horsewear, an international company with a factory here in Sihaoukville, runs a wonderful scheme whereby they supply M’op Tapang’s (an NGO) home based sowing teams with waste material. These teams in turn make it into school bags, which Horsewear buy back from them (giving them a valuable income). They then distribute these bags for free (through local charities) to children in need. It is a great way to involve the whole community in their social corporate responsibility.

The bags came just in time for the beginning of the new state school year and our students absolutely loved them! For a bonus they have a reflective strip for added safety. It is fantastic to provide the children with new things and knowing that they will be put to such good use. Some of them seem not to have taken them off since they were given them!

 
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Posted by on November 27, 2019 in 2019

 

The “Development” of Sihanoukville

The rains have arrived in Sihanoukville and as predicted by most, but ignored by those who could have averted it, they have brought mass flooding to the area on scales never seen in the past. This is because flood plains and other natural drainage areas have been carelessly filled in to be built upon, before alternative watercourses have been made.

After a few days of heavy rain, vast areas of the city were thigh deep in water, including the main center of the largest NGO, M’lop Tapang. This is dangerous and costly in itself. but combined with the fact this water is contaminated by the rubbish and sewage now covering the streets and canals of the city, it is downright scary! People will become sick.

While we are lucky our center is built on stilts and on a hillside, our playground still gets its fair share of water, as do many of our families houses, as previous watercourses down the hills have been blocked. We are working closely with families to help them best protect their homes.

The rains will pass but the underlying issues facing the city will remain. It is impossible to deny the fact that the city is being sold off and built over at rates that are unsupportable for the infrastructure in place. Waste management, electricity supply, road and traffic conditions and (somewhat ironically) water supply are woefully inadequate for the needs of the growing city. Combine this with the fact that families are being pushed from their homes as land is sold off, or because rents are sky rocketing, that food and amenity prices are increasing and jobs in the poorest sector (small shops, beach sellers, moto dops) are disappearing, makes for a pretty bleak picture for many Cambodian families living here.

Sadly, as is so often the case, it is the poorest of people who will feel these effects the worse. Many families are faced with a difficult choice; either move out of the city back to home provinces, but moves can be costly and opportunities in the countryside are fewer, both in terms of employment and education, or, stay in the city with circumstances becoming more difficult on an almost daily basis.

There is however a glimmer of hope in Sihanoukville’s new governor, Kuoch Chamroeun. Tasked with the cleaning up of the city, he has so far closed building sites operating without permits, started the task of widening canals for drainage, and fined the company in charge of rubbish collection for their failures. We must now wait and see whether these changes can make any real difference or whether it is already a case of too little too late.

Photo from CNE

Photo from Huy Bunleng

Photo from Mlop Tapang

 

Photo from Kuoch Chamroeun

Photo from Mlop Tapang. New Govenor Kuoch Chamroeun widening canals

 
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Posted by on August 26, 2019 in 2019

 

Olympic Treats

Our School Olympic days remain a firm favourite amongst our students and staff. Sokheang especially, comes up with increasingly fun/silly activities in which to compete and adds brilliant commentary throughout proceedings to keep the children laughing. The tasks are always varied and require different skills to complete, so it is not always the “athletes” coming out on top. This means all the children get a chance to feel good about themselves.

With town changing we are getting more limited with our winners trips out, but we are still managing to find places! Most recently we went for ice-cream followed by playground games and our next trip is planned for an indoor swimming pool. Good to keep the fun coming

!

 
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Posted by on June 4, 2019 in 2019