Stella’s Blog – 13th October 2015

I have been in Cambodia for just over two weeks and have been fully immersed!

I went to the first of three P’chum Ben festivals the first day I arrived – (it goes on for a fortnight) and I have been whizzing around ever since. The festival is fascinating – all about feeding ancestors and atoning sins in both their past life and of course in our own present one as well, all as a part of hopefully having a better life next time round.(full pics and news on FB)

Other events – a birthday party for a little girl aged 3. I arranged for a lovely big complimentary cake to be delivered after the bakery failed to deliver my own birthday cake last time I was here (I had already left Cambodia when they offered to give me another free cake) so a belated happy ending to my own birthday as well. I took some modelling balloons to the party and was struggling to make a butterfly when I noticed they just wanted to wrap them around their heads so each child had two or three crowns piled up – so sweet! Thinking about it afterwards it may have something to do with the head being the most important part of the body and the higher the better… as they were all so small I imagine it made them feel bigger?

I went to Anjali House (halfway house for former street kids) and was delighted to be greeted by all the kids who remembered me and was impressed by the progress there. I have been teaching one of the older students who wants to be a photographer how to set up an email account and clean up his photos, send PDFs and emails. Also at Anjali, I am looking at spending some of our donations on a fishery in the school as part of the sustainability program, also a mushroom growing unit – exciting stuff!

I have also been up to our own school in the very rural area of Snay L’a (I say OUR because you will most likely have helped set this school up with a donation or other support?) – again I was delighted to be greeted by the children in such an open and friendly manner, especially as they are so shy and don’t have any interaction with westerners. The kids are doing very well and have come a long way in just a few months They are now ready and writing in basic english. I spent and hour with each of the three classes and read them all a story (they all repeated every work of the story after me because they wanted to practice their pronunciation!)

I have started to get the motorbike movies organised, have found a tech Cambodian and also a motorbike owner who’d like to ravel round and show the movies to rural communities. I still need to put the movies and educational films together and will look for a Cambodian media student to help… am sure there’s one somewhere!

I have a meeting tomorrow to start the sustainable feeding program for the elderly… this is probably the most challenging due to the gulf in education and understanding of sustainability, rather than the tendency to live today and not think about tomorrow – not surprising given the history, so I really need cooperation from younger people in the communities who is not corruptible.Each village has a chief who is the first point of contact, but they are not always community minded unfortunately… anyway more news soon about that I hope.

Unfortunately I have found writing the newsletter in the fully published style I sent last time is too time consuming and also fraught with challenges as we are having so many power cuts, instead I am posting almost every day on Facebook which is quick and easy to do on my phone, so I you can access that if you’d like a fuller visual version of what I’m up to. Please see Stella in Cambodia. Or click this link I also have further information and images of the school on my crowd funding page… please click this link…

Thats all for now – I’m just heading out on my new bike – actually a very old bike which cost just $20 but when I saw it she had my name stencilled on the chain guard… so of course it was fate!