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Author Archives: Goodwill Center, Sihanoukville

During the Shutdown

While schools remain closed the centers staff still have many things to do. Our main priory has been remaining present as a point of contact for any families in need. We have cemented this with extra food drops in the area, along with the provision of soaps, hand sanitisers, masks and most importantly advice.

Many families are already feeling the economic strain of this Covid crisis with livelihoods badly damaged in the tourism industry (beach sellers, moto drivers), the manufacturing industry (shipping/transport of goods) and the construction industry (building sites closed) along with many others. Sadly, it also seems likely that on the economic side, this crisis will still get worse before it gets better and many that were struggling before will find themselves in increasingly desperate situations We are talking closely to our families that have been affected and trying to find practical solutions to help them at this time.

We have also done lots of group (online) training, covering topics including online safety, project based learning, creative thinking, classroom management, child rights and  youth empowerment. The staff have been brilliant and thought of lots of ways they can put what they have learned into their teachings. We are desperate for schools to open so we can try them out!

Aside from this we have spent the time doing some much needed maintenance and deep cleaning of the center, along with making a few new plant and vegetable patches, ready to be used in an environmental project with the students when they return.

 

 

 
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Posted by on June 17, 2020 in 2020

 

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

 

Community Work

The work we carry out within the community is as important as ever at the moment. We have been increasing the number of food drops we carry out in order to help combat the hardships currently being faced. It also gives us a great chance to talk to new families in the area. Many are moving in, to live on building sites (as labourers), and, while only here temporarily, it is important to make them welcome and ensure any children with them are still able to access some form of education.

As well as this, M’lop Tapang (the largest NGO in town) have still been coming to our center every few weeks to talk to our students about a variety of topics from home safety to alcohol and drug abuse. Being able to talk openly about such things is very important in a place where many issues go unnoticed or are hidden away due to stigma. It makes children aware they are able to ask for help when needed, a valuable lesson for life.

 

 
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Posted by on May 9, 2019 in 2019

 

Building Relationships

Some of our students have very turbulent home lives and often (for many varying reasons, often outside of their families control) do not get enough attention at home. One of our favourite things about the centre is the closeness of the staff to their students (something that has been the case since the beginning). All the members of our team have been working here for many years, and over that time have developed strong relationships between each other and the children. While remaining completely professional the staff have ensured the students know they are in a safe place and have people in which they can confide. This closeness helps to provide much needed emotional support for our students, building their confidence and providing them with a sense of security.

 
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Posted by on March 5, 2019 in 2019

 

Crafting

We try to spend a lot of time doing craft activities at the center. It gives the children a chance to use their imaginations and creativity, as well as improving their fine motor skills. They always love it! Supplies in Cambodia (beyond the basics) are harder to find so we often rely on the generosity of others who bring/send things for us to use from home. We have been very lucky this year and had some wonderful art and craft extras gifted to us, so we have had lots of fun!

 
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Posted by on January 23, 2019 in 2019

 

Christmas Party and New Year Trip

After finally managing to clear our playground we held our annual Christmas party. We played lots of games and the children put on 3 different dances, all of which were fantastic. Kolab, with the help of the children, had once again created some incredible decorations so the center looked great! We were kindly donated two bikes which we decided to give away in the raffle, resulting in lots of very excited children! As always our students were fantastic, well behaved and helpful and all left with big grins on their faces.

The staff were given a few (well deserved) days off between Christmas and New Year to recharge their batteries. We went on a day trip together down the coast as a bonus for all their hard work. It was lovely to have some time together! We are back into the swing of it now and over the coming few weeks we hope to extend our garden areas and finish painting the playground. Bring on 2019!

 
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Posted by on January 8, 2019 in 2019

 

Almost a Spring Clean

All the current development in Sihanoukville has brought a lot of dust and dirt to the roads. This is heightened in our area as we are based opposite (and downhill of) a quarry and building site. This positioning has meant that every time there is heavy rainfall the centre is flooded with sand and dirt (luckily only the playground as rooms are elevated). With what we believed to be the end of rainy season behind us, we began a good spring clean. All the children helped and it was lovely making the center nice and bright again.

Sadly, and uncharacteristically for this time of year, there  has been huge rainfall in the last two days, bringing in lots more mud, so our playground is back to square one! We are hoping this will dry out quickly so we can remove it in time for our Christmas party! We are lucky to have so many helping hands around that we are sure to get something sorted! We will not be defeated!

 

 
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Posted by on December 11, 2018 in 2018

 

New Term

 

The beginning of the state school term has just begun (properly after consecutive holidays). This always leads to our quietest period at the center for a few reasons. Firstly, some of our students have progressed to grade 7 so will be attending state school both morning and afternoon (we will have new younger students joining our classes), and they will only now come to us for evening classes. Secondly children have to get used to studying for a full day again after 2 months of only doing half-days. Thirdly family members, who are used to the children being at home part of the time to help clean and cook, have to adjust to their absence again. This means we spend a lot of time out in the community talking to families and explaining the benefits of returning to classes along with offering extra school trips and food drops (as incentives) to the children coming in regularly again.

We also get the opportunity to do some staff training/refreshing and introduce some new elements to our structure, such as extended circle time with our youngest students and more emphasis on group work and presentations with our older ones. We hope we will have a full and productive year to come!

 

 

 

 
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Posted by on November 29, 2018 in 2018

 

Clothes Donations

The center has been receiving lots of clothes donations recently from both people moving away from town and from some generous visitors. Today the children were allowed to take home two items for each of their parents or carers. They love digging through the clothes and finding exciting new things….with many of them deciding to wear the oversized items home! We also have a store of children’s clothes, but are waiting to give these out at the start of the new term, next week. This is when state schools open again after their long rainy season holiday and we often find the children need a little encouragement to study through the whole day again. Thank you to all who donated!

 
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Posted by on October 24, 2018 in 2018

 

Beat Richner and his Kantha Bopha Legacy

We awoke this morning to the sad news that Dr Beat Richner had passed away. Dr Richner was a truly inspirational human being who dedicated his life to his firm belief in free access to medical treatment for all children.

A Swiss national, Richner first came to Cambodia with the Swiss Red Cross in the 1970s where he spent some time working at the Kantha Bopa Children’s Hospital in Phnom Penh. The hospital was subsequently destroyed during the Khmer Rouge regime, but Richner on the request of King Norodom Sihanouk (who’s daughter the hospital is named after) and the government, returned to Cambodia in 1992 to reopen the hospital, and with funding from his Kantha Bopa Foundation, provide free medical care to all children that came.

Since then the hospital has continued to grow, opening different branches in Phnom Penh and one in Siem Reap (where Dr Richner would also conduct cello concerts to help raise funds and awareness of the issue of healthcare in Cambodia). The hospitals have proved to be a true lifeline for so many living in Cambodia who could not have afforded medical treatment otherwise (including many of our students) and have saved countless lives.

We are full of admiration for a man with such generosity of spirit and caring of natures and hope his legacy continues for generations to come.

 
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Posted by on September 10, 2018 in 2018

 

Little Rays of Sunshine!

It has been a rainy, rainy season here in Cambodia, one of the worst we have seen in years. This combine with the turbulent time that the city of Sihanoukville is going through has made for some tough times. BUT the spirits of our children will not be dampened! They continue to inspire us turning up to the center with smiles on their faces and hope for the new day.

The city is undergoing huge investment/development currently, which, while in the long run may bring more prosperity to the region, is placing poorer families under huge amounts of strain, with living prices increasing exponentially and jobs vanishing as the tourist trade changes massively. This compounded with the strain on the infrastructure, seeing more frequent power and water cuts, severely damaged roads, and huge amounts of uncollected rubbish, has lead to some difficult times for the people living here. This makes our small bubble of a safe haven even more important and a joy to be in. The resilience of our students is something to truly be admired!

 

 

 
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Posted by on September 3, 2018 in 2018

 

English Lessons

Our English classes continue to be very popular with students of all ages, with all of our classes full. Even our youngest members enjoy their speaking practice! The Khmer and English languages are about as different as you can get and getting your head and tongue around some of the alien sounds can be really difficult. We are putting extra emphasis on pronunciation with our youngest groups to get them in the habit early. Our teachers have also been learning some different techniques to try with their classes to keep them interested. It is a testament to our brilliant teachers that the children continue to arrive for their classes even in the torrential rain!

 
 

Rikreay Chhnam Thmei

Happy Khmer New Year!! The staff are having a well earned holiday after a fantastic term with our lovely students. We closed up with our regular new year party with lots of games and performances. Our younger children got really involved this year and bravely performed 2 dances and a fashion show. It was very sweet. Looking forward to seeing everyone back next term.

 

Silly Putty

As we know how much our students like to make a mess we thought we’d try them on making some (basic) silly putty. We used a mix of colouring, glue and talcum powder, worked together for some time until it creates a putty. It lasts a few days if wrapped up after use. The children loved making it. It is very tactile as it has to be worked in the hands until it is not too sticky nor too dry. Then they had great fun making models with it and playing around. It is great to give them something they can take home and enjoy too.