For the past week my friend Tammy and I have been volunteering at the Kirivorn school. We were picked up from our guesthouse in an American Assistance for Cambodia truck by 2 men that work for the organization in Phnom Penh. It was only a short ride from our place to the school which was located about 1km in from the main road on a red dirt road. It is a very small humble school with only 4 teachers.
The children and teachers welcomed us with big smiles, they
presented Tammy and I with presents of coconuts, watermelons, mangoes, and drinks. It was the most heart warming feeling I have ever felt, it almost brought tears to my eyes. We accepted these gifts and were shown around the facility. They have their own garden and
fruit trees which they grow morning glories for the students to eat breakfast. There is one small kitchen made up of a wooden shack with a place to prepare vegetables and a small brick oven to cook rice. Next to that is a spout hooked into an underground water system deep in the earth so the water is naturally clean. They have a library with shelves barely filled with books, a computer lab with 11 computers of which 8 of them work, they have satellite internet connection that is slower than dial up and the computers only work when the big generator they are hooked up to is running. So the computer lab is only running for a couple hours a day because the generator uses one liter of gasoline every hour. After meeting and greeting all the teachers we began shooting some
video for a program that American Assistance for Cambodia is working on, we interviewed a group of girls and asked them what they enjoyed learning and doing at the school.
During lunch we followed a boy named Suohian (Sue) home to meet his family and talk with him about his life and his schooling. He is in 5th grade and wants to go on to be a doctor, but after he is done high school he wants to become a monk. We walked about 1km down a red dirt road to a small little wooden shack on the side of the road where he lives with his grandmother, brother, and sister. His parents were divorced when he was young and his mother works far away and his father disappeared. His grandmother was so welcoming and offered us these specialty rice cakes she makes. They were wrapped in banana leaves and were very tasty. I was amazed at how welcoming they were and how openly they all talked to us. The grandmotherwent on to tell us about her husband and 6 of her 8 children that were killed by Pol Pot and the Khmer Rouge in the 70s. It was one of the most powerful experiences I have ever witnessed, she started crying and was completely open with us. After this somber experience we walked back to the school and I had my first coconut cutting experience, the kids gave us 3 coconuts and the English teacher Nop Vay who was with us all day long use to be a tour guide and he was a professional coconut cutter. After consuming 2 coconuts we headed back to the school and sat in on an English class and helped the students with their pronunciations of certain words. Then Nop Vah fired the generators up and started his computer class, after class I started working to create the school a facebook page so they can share stories and pictures with the host school Nishimachi which donated the school and provides funding for text books and computers. If you google the Kirivorn school barely anything comes up. Nop Vay was very excited that their small humble school will be on the internet. My goal is to create the page and teach the kids this week how to access the page to view their photos and videos and to become pen pals with students from Nishimachi. I am not creating facebook pages for all the students, just one for the school which will be closely monitored by Nop Vay and the Nishimachi school.
It has been a very amazing week and I will always remember the smiling faces on the children as they chased us down the road on our motorbike as we were leaving. It was sad to go.
I am now in Kampot!!! I am so stoked to be here, Charles place is really awesome and it feels really good to have a semi-permanent base to work and live out of for a while. Kampot is a pretty small town, but has a bustling market and beautiful views.