Teach, share and raise awareness
We must not cloud the issue, it’s sometimes difficult to change things, even in a country like Cambodia where precariousness is still too present. Habits, mentalities, a difficult past, the rapid evolution of the country, the lack of education and simply the fear of change are all reasons that often make our work complicated. Therefore came naturally to us the need to turn towards children to get our messages across, as they are more receptive and happy to learn, and what better place than a school to raise awareness.
The project to build the first school in the village began in 2017, in the hands of the local authorities first. They quickly came to us to see if we could help them to carry it out, and we of course answered yes, seeing here much more than a simple school, the mean of creating together a real educational and socio-cultural pole which would reach a maximum of people of all ages.
To achieve this, we first had to find a plot of land, and came to us the opportunity to purchase the plot literally next to our garden, which would therefore allow us to interact directly with. So we jumped on the opportunity, which was too good to be true, and in 2018 acquired this piece of land once again thanks to the generosity of friends, who had already made the creation of the community garden possible by purchasing the land !!!
A building permit has then been requested to the authorities for the construction of a kindergarten, which would be our base, and which above all would respond to the immediate need of the community. Indeed, there is little structure for young children, as the school are officially starting at 6 years old in Cambodia, and therefore women have often no choice than to stay home to look after their children. With this kindergarten we will of course offer quality education to the kids, but also an opportunity for women to work and to support their family. In addition, with a good management of the spaces, we could do many other things in the buildings according to the day’s schedules as the little ones would only be there in the morning.
A month later, the building permit was there, and a new story began for Camborea and the villagers.
Let’s go building it !!!
After having drawn up a quick plan, not being an architect or even a profession at all, we attacked on site in May 2019. We had to first raise the ground, which like our garden incurs flooding during the rice season, as the farmers diverting rivers to flood their rice fields which surround our projects. Sixty trucks later, more than 50 centimeters of soil has been spread over half of the land where the school will be located, as we couldn’t afford to raise all.
Here are some pictures of the construction, of which I would not describe all the steps here as it’s too long, but it was not simple believe me between the very short deadlines for the construction which were allotted to us, the first rains of the season, a trip to France with my family, the problems encountered and trying to do the best with the less amount of money possible…
And here is the first overview of our school almost finished, after only 6 months of work… It offers two fully equipped classrooms, one of 60 square meter and the other one of 25 square meter, plus a covered terrace of 72 square meter for the rainy season, which gives additional space for outdoor activities or for kids to play !!!
On November 1, 2019, even if the interior decoration was not finished, our school welcomed it first students. It was for the whole Camborea team the real start of this fabulous adventure, and an immense joy for all the people who had made this possible !!!!
It was an amazing start with around thirty children from 3 to 5 years old present, showing the real need for this school. But very quickly, in just few days, the message had gotten through the village and the number of kids increased to forty, even almost fifty on certain days. The two people we had hired to teach, a teacher in training and a village mom, were quickly overwhelmed by the little monsters who had never attended to school. So we took a third lady to help them, also a teacher in training, but it was still unmanageable in our eyes even for three. The decision was then taken to separate the group in two by creating a second class which started in January 2020.
To date, 17 children of five years old are having class in the small room, under the teaching of a lady graduated from Cambodian national education. 23 younger ones come daily in the large room them supervised by 3 people, including two teacher trainees.
The project is now on track, even if it remains to perpetuate this by providing to real training to teachers, and above all by guaranteeing the coverage of costs related to their salaries and the equipment necessary for the school proper functioning.
This kindergarten is a wonderful start for a much larger project which we now have in hand, to create a real socio-cultural center in the village. These walls in addition to housing a nice school, will allow us to convey many messages such as the respect of traditions, the local culture, the preservation of nature, biodiversity, without forgetting of the course the food self-sufficiency which is very important for us !!!
We are currently thinking of new activities such as opening a library in the evening in the big room, or providing literacy classes for adults in the village. This would allow us above all to help more people, but also quite simply to attract people, always more people, to this superb place in order to raise awareness and to share in order to help together the whole community.
It will take time to get there, and we need your generosity for that, so if you share our vision follow this link and please help-us.