Stella’s Blog – 20th December 2015

The building is progressing slowly for the time being as it is harvest season. The rice harvest is the most important thing in these rural areas as its the income for the entire year. This year the yield has been poor due to late rain and less volume than usual so unfortunately this means farmers will have to borrow money against next years harvest. I don’t have to tell you what a downward spiral into poverty this can be if the following year is also a low yield.

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On the plus side, by building the sewing workshop and the boys practical skills shop we are now providing a way for our village to find an alternative income source. I know the village already rely more heavily on second incomes and currently this means leaving the area to find work, often this takes them down the route of being trafficked to another country and exploited. There are many children in our school who live without parents. Sometimes they live with grandparents or other relatives but also some of them live alone and care for their younger siblings.

The pressure on girls to take on the parental role at a young age (usually around 12) is extreme in some cases and so with the help of our school they can at least continue with some basic education and even bring their siblings along with them. The sewing workshop is going to be a huge boost for them to provide an income, gain an education and more importantly will break the cycle of having to leave their own children in the future.

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Our aim with the sewing workshop is not to churn out masses of garments on contractual terms but to discover different ways to make a living, learn to be creative and perfect skills and ultimately to design our own items to sell at the artisan market part of the income will also help maintain the school as sustainable. Other income will be generated from the mechanics workshop, the garden and the future plans for a fish farm and a herb and spice field.

I am currently raising funds to bring e-learning to the school so that they children who have to work during the day can still get access to education at a time to suit them. So thank you all for the support you have given – as you can see we’re on a roll!

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So while the rice harvest is in full swing so I’m busy with a few other things besides the everyday support, I am teaching a little girl to swim – over 2000 children are drowned each year due to the rainy season, so its important kids can swim – sadly it isn’t taught, I’d love to help all kids to swim but its not possible. I am also working on Motorbike Moves (transported on a motorbike and powered by a motorbike battery) and now have several bookings to take the cinema out to rural communities – I combine the event with health and hygiene videos and questions and answers. Due to the Khmer Rouge regime, adults have never been taught how to take care of themselves and especially how to stop germs from spreading, so its important the movies are for the whole community, not just the kids.

Finally because its the festive season, one of the most important jobs I’m doing is organising a party for the street kids here in town. They can see all the hotels decked out and everyone having fun, so we’re having our own event with singing, games, dancing competition and a BBQ. I asked the kids what they wanted for a present and their answer made my heart bleed. They asked for school books, shampoo and a comb.