II was sitting in a cafe in Phnom Penh as the shocking images of the storm damages to the old school building in Bech Khlok reached me. A gale force storm had ripped the sheet metal off the porous, termite-eroded roof battens and joists and left an image of sheer devastation.
Because of a lack of money, the villagers had built the supporting structure of the building with cheap soft wood, which had made this damage foreseeable. We knew this would happen some day, but we had just hoped for a little more time until we could address the issue. The local Council will pay for the replacement of the sheet metal, and Seed will contribute $100 towards the cost of replacing the damaged wood. These repairs will however not solve the long term issue. As soon as we can afford it, we will replace the whole old building with a new one, which will be properly constructed. We need a third classroom and a room for an office and library. We could use the red sheet metals and the window frames of the old building to construct a simple teachers room. Starting from September, the Government will pay for a third teacher salary and by then we will urgently need a place to stay for the two teachers who do not live in the village. There is nothing available in terms of rentals in the surrounding villages either, and in cases like this it is custom that the school provides a simple facility (room). For now, the external teacher called Sokhom has stayed with Sopheap, but his house is small and they have to share it with his sister and his handicapped brother.
For Seed, this means another push for donations so that we can start this second stage and ensure the sustainable function of the school. We are, as always, extremely grateful for your kind donations and support. You will find our account details for Switzerland and New Zealand in the footnotes of the Newsletter.
But now to the happy news.
Thanks to the fantastic support and contributions from a great team of Builders, Project Managers and dozens of volunteers, we managed to build a beautiful extension of the Primary School in Bech Khlok. I want to thank all who were involved with this great project for their tireless efforts.
We celebrated the opening last Sunday with the children and the villagers. There were speeches, fun and games, and a delicious chicken curry for everyone. Both children and adults showed immense gratitude and it was heart warming to see so many happy faces.
In the last days leading up to the opening ceremony every support is needed.
the moving image of a girl looking at the cupboard I had decorated
Speeches from village chief Sopheap, Heang, Seavyoung and myself. Seavyoung, who teaches English at the Battambang Countryside Class (a Seed-supported Project), gave a passionate speech about the necessity of good education, which addressed mostly our older female students.
Fun and games with the kids, organised by Heang and Seavyoung and group photo with kids, parents, teachers and volunteers.
Delicious chicken curry cooked by Sopheap's mother and many volunteers.
Finally, some more information about clean drinking water. The students of Swiss private school Terra Nova in Herrliberg donated the money for Seed to buy three biosand-waterfilters. These filters were installed a week ahead of the opening ceremony and they are working perfectly already.
Furthermore, thanks to a further generous donation from Switzerland, we can install two big water tanks behind the school building. And because it rained for five hours on Saturday, those tanks were full enough on Sunday for the kids to be able to wash their hands under a tap for the first time in their lives. I had the photo-story printed, which Florian and the children had created as a school project about clean drinking water. The school received two copies. Some images from the book are attached here. I will post the full story on Facebook in the next weeks.