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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.

 

Beaching

All of our students have been performing really well recently, both academically and in their attitudes to school and team work. For this reason we decided to treat them with a trip to the beach to reward all their hard work. The staff along with our regular helpers gathered them together for a day in the sun. We did lots of swimming and sand castle building along with a shell collection (we will be using these in some of our murals). Lots of our younger school members (who have been doing incredible things with teacher Kolab recently) got to come along too and absolutely loved being able to play in the water. Many of the older ones who had attending our recent swimming classes were also able to put into practice what they had learned. A really great day!

 
 

A Very Happy Christmas!

We would like to wish everyone a very happy Christmas from all of us here at the center. We had a wonderful party yesterday with lots of dances and games. The students had a really good time and many of their family members came to join in the fun too. We have had a fantastic year and feel very lucky to be part of such an amazing place. None of it would be possible without the overwhelming support we receive from you all. Best wishes to everyone and here is to a new year full of happiness!

 
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Posted by on December 22, 2017 in 2017

 

Swimming Lessons

Learning to swim is a joy for many children and one which lots of us take for granted. It is sometimes hard to believe (especially living in a coastal city) the number of children and adults who are unable to swim here and the number of deaths due to drowning because of this.

We have been lucky enough to address this issue with our children thanks to the help of the YMCA (Australia), who sent a team of volunteer swimming teachers/lifeguards over to teach local children this vital skill. They had huge success with the programme last year and are hoping to make it a regular trip. We joined a few other schools sending 30 children along for the classes. The classes lasted one hour and ran for a week.

The children learned about safety in the water, how to help someone in trouble and many other valuable lessons along with the main aim of being able to float! Our kids did great, many of them picking it up really quickly! They also had great fun doing it! We feel very lucky we were able to take part in this initiative and send a huge thank you to everyone who helped to organize and run it!

 
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Posted by on December 18, 2017 in 2017

 

Murals, Masks and Mayhem

We have been getting creative at the center recently doing lots of art and craft. Some of the most fun activities have been paper mache masks and a new mural in one of our classrooms made from broken and unused jewellery which had been kindly donated to the center.

The paper mashe was very messy and the kids loved getting their hands dirty trying to mould their balloons. They took a few days to dry and were then ready to paint. They looked great!

Our mural is still to be completed. So far we have painted flowers onto the wall and filled them with pained bits of jewellery. We plan to collect lots of shells and other found objects to add in, filling the space completely. It is great to get all the kids involved in something that is part of their classroom so they can really feel a part of it.

On a sadder note one of our lovely teachers Nai has decided she will be leaving us. She is expecting her third child and there is no one else at home that can help to take care of them in the day time. She will only be down the road however so we expect to see her often and at all our parties. She has been a truly wonderful member of our team and we love her dearly. To see her off we had a small party and made all the children a special curry to have all together. There were so many kids it was quite chaotic but all of the older children helped with the serving of the food and tiding. It was lots of fun!

 
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Posted by on November 24, 2017 in 2017

 

Waterfalls

The school Olympic days on Fridays remain a big hit with the children and are proving a great way to encourage them to come in. We decided to combine 2 months worth of winning teams and take them all to the waterfalls as their reward. As the rainy season is just coming to an end here, there was plenty of water in the river to splash about in. The weather wasn’t the greatest but the kids barely noticed and didn’t want to leave when it was time to return to the center. The trips out of school are always great fun, with the students and staff getting to spend real quality time together making us an even stronger team. Bring on the next one!

 
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Posted by on October 4, 2017 in 2017

 

Pchum Ben

It is Pchum Ben here in Cambodia; the holiday of the ancestors. It is a very important time for Cambodians, with families all coming together to pay respect. Many of our children travel to family homes away in the provinces, while others stay here are attend the local temples. For our last day at school, before they all headed off, we decided to make them some nice food and have a bit of a party. It is always nice to get everyone together for some fun and dancing! Happy Pchum Ben Everyone!

 
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Posted by on September 20, 2017 in 2017

 

New Shoes

Thanks to the generosity of a friend of the center we have been able to provide all of our children in need of them with new shoes. It is so often the case that those children from the poorest families cant afford new shoes when old ones break, leaving them to walk barefoot over dirty and rocky ground, leading to infected cuts and other problems. While we try our best to stay on top of the need to have a chance to get ahead of it is fantastic! Everyone was very happy with their new purchases!

 
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Posted by on July 18, 2017 in 2017

 

Malnutrition and the Breakfast Club

Malnutrition in Cambodia remains a significant problem with estimates putting the number of undernourished Cambodian citizens at five million and sighting malnutrition as a cause of one third of child deaths (WFP, UNICEF). One of the biggest challenges to overcome is stunting which is a growth failure in a child caused by insufficient intake of essential nutrients in early childhood, which causes a child’s physical and mental development to be irreversibly compromised. The latest Demographic Health Survey of Cambodia (2010) found stunting in 40% of children and while continued work by NGOs and hospitals has seen this number slowly decrease, it remains a huge concern.

With the help of our friend Rang Hawrami we are now able to take steps to reduce malnutrition amongst our students by providing varied and balanced meals at breakfast through the week. We have started a 2 month trial and so far things are looking good and we hope that with support we can continue this important addition to our services. It is great to see the children either heading into school or into our centre with full bellies and smiles on their faces!

 
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Posted by on June 7, 2017 in 2017

 

Get Some Exercise!

For a few weeks we have been joined by Alex, a Muay Thai boxer, who has been leading exercise classes with the children. Only done in short bursts, he has been showing them how to use their whole body in movements to make sure they are stretching and testing every muscle. He has then gone through some of the basic moves with the older children. He has also helped in our football classes teaching our coach some warm up routines to avoid pulled mussels. It is so important for children to be active and they have really enjoyed it!

 
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Posted by on May 25, 2017 in 2017

 

A Little Bit of Everything!

It has been a busy few weeks at the center, with lots of fun activities, trips out, visitors and new toys. Our Olympic winners got a trip to the waterfalls, which is always everyone favourite and we had lots of friends come to help watch them all too, so it was a lot of fun.

Our brilliant staff have been very creative recently, coming up with lots of new things for the children to do, from quiz challenges, to song making and play acting. We have also been doing lots of art so the children have been really enjoying themselves and getting to use their creativity.

M’lop Tapang also ran a new social work training workshop which Srey Touch (our resident teacher and social worker) went along to, allowing her to brush up her skills, which she said she found very valuable. She will lead some workshops with our staff (with the help of a visiting social worker) in the coming weeks to pass on what she has learned.

 
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Posted by on May 16, 2017 in 2017

 

Khmer New Year

Khmer New Year came round again so fast! We had a great party with the staff and children. A few of our families had already left for the provinces to see family before we held it, so it was more relaxed than some years (a nice change for the staff!!). We were very lucky as it had been bad weather all week leading up to it, but the sun shone all day for us. We played hundreds of traditional games along with a few new ones invented by the staff. They were all really funny and everyone was in a brilliant mood. The day came to a close with plates of fruits for everyone and an impromptu water-fight (started by one of the mums!). A truly great day!

 
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Posted by on April 20, 2017 in 2017

 

Ear Clinic Visit

Every 4 months the All Ears team comes to the M’lop Tapang clinic to run ear checks and address any problems children in the area might be having with hearing or infection. We went yesterday and had a few follow up cases from the last visit, along with a number of new cases. The team are always wonderful with the children making them feel very comfortable and teaching them about proper ear care. Its is a great help to have their support!

 

 
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Posted by on March 31, 2017 in 2017

 

Child Abuse Awareness

Today M’lop Tapang came to our center to teach our students about child abuse. They were brilliant at breaking down the topic, getting the students to realise the many ways abuse can occur (both physical and mental) and the people and institutions that allow it to happen. They also spent time discussing how, when out selling bracelets, can collecting or begging, children put themselves into vulnerable positions which they must be aware of. The lesson was summed up by reminding the students of signs of abuse to look out for in themselves or their friends and who they can tell about these things to get help.

 
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Posted by on March 21, 2017 in 2017

 

Hygiene Lessons for Eco Soap

Our progress with the Eco-Soap Bank continues and we are now able to supply bars of soaps to many organisations throughout Sihanoukville. These bars are then given out (and kept in for use in centers etc) to the local communities. The most important step at this point is to make sure that the importance of hand washing is understood in regards to preventing illness. Therefor while handing out the bars, hygiene lessons are given on the proper ways to wash hands and the effect this has.

We ran a session at the center recently where we ran different activities with our students. Firstly brainstorming together everything they knew about bacteria and germs and filling in any gaps. We then did an experiment using glitter to represent the germs and getting children to shake hands and touch objects around the rooms to see how far the glitter (or germs) could spread from their original source. After this we did some hand washing training and made posters about how and why it is important to use soap.

The students seemed to understand its importance and all got soap to take home. It is the hope of the project that as it grows across Cambodia it could have a real impact into combating the number of illnesses and deaths in the country from caused by preventable diseases.

 
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Posted by on March 13, 2017 in 2017

 

A View of our Center

Last week we were joined at our center by Orin, a short film maker. He asked if he could make a little video about our school and Cambodia. He got some lovely shots of the kids so its well worth a look!

 
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Posted by on March 6, 2017 in 2017