Saturday, 18 February 2012

Settling In And Starting Work

So I am well settled into Cambodian life by now. Its actually not that hard eating rice for breakfast, lunch and dinner. And the weather has been a lovely 34 degrees and sunny almost everyday. However my phone got pick-pocketed and at the moment I’m not feeling great, have a bit of a vomiting bug. But overall its been amazing.

The organisation I am working for SCAO, was basically set-up by Mr. and Mrs. Samith who both really wanted to help impoverished and orphaned children from Cambodia. It got its official government charity licence in 2004 and opened a SCAO centre and school in 2007, about 7km from Phnom Penh, but quite remote. There are 17 children living in the centre at present and they come from all over Cambodia. Only a small minority are orphans, most have at least one living parent, but their families are unable to provide adequately for the children. Thus they come to the warm and loving atmosphere of the SCAO centre, where they get food, clothing, shelter, and of course access to education.

The SCAO school is located a stones throw from the centre and here over 240 children from the local area receive free English classes to supplement and improve on the education they receive in the government schools. It is extremely difficult to underestimate just how important English is to the future of these children, whether they go on to study in university, get a trade or move into Phnom Penh looking for work. At the moment in the centre there are 11 classes ranging from kindergarten to advanced and conversional English. These classes are thought by 1 former child of the centre, 2 current young adults from the centre, and volunteers from all around the world. The children of the centre also rely on overseas donations to further their studies after secondary school.

In July 2011 the SCAO opened   a new school about 22km from Phnom Penh. This school is a fantastic 3 story building with two well-equipped classrooms and 5 rooms for volunteers to sleep in, with up to 10 beds overall. No students live in the centre but almost 450 disadvantaged children come to school daily to receive free English classes, also to supplement what they learn in the government schools. This school was heavily funded by the SCOOP foundation, who sent me here, and is known in the SCAO as the SCOOP school. The children here are taught by volunteers as well as 2 local Cambodians. There is also 11 classes ranging from kindergarten to advanced and conversional English.

Basically my job here is to help the SCAO plan and develop sustainable. It is totally dependent on private donations and has reached  a point where it can attract fantastic donations from people worldwide. But obviously it needs an organisational plan put in place in order to receive this money and grow sustainable, reaching out to more children. I am also in charge of organising new learning workshops for the children and adult community based on everything from HIV/AIDS to road safety, and gambling to domestic violence, and much more. So the plan is to build on contacts the SCAO has with other NGOs that work in these fields and see can they deliver workshops in the Khmer language in both schools. I will also be assisting in helping to spread the computer learning and sowing classes which started in the SCAO school to the SCOOP school, as well as possiblely developing barbering/hairdressing classes as well.  Lastly I will be acting as a volunteer manager for SCAO, as we get lots of volunteers visiting the centre for varying lengths of time and with quite different previous volunteering experience. At the moment we are a bit short on volunteers in the SCOOP school so I have been mostly just teaching, but I am here for 9 months so plenty of time left :-)

Have also seen some of the sites linked to the Khmer Rouge, which were very disturbing, will update on that next.

Thanks for reading!

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