Jan. 2008

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Sua s’dei,


Hope all is well as home. I heard January was filled with a bit of very wild weather from down pours to piles of the white stuff. So, whether you are breaking out the snorkels or the shovels, I hope you are finding some fun and adventure in it all.


January here started off with a road trip to visit a few Homes/Schools and meet the teachers. A half dozen bumpy dirt roads got us to Kampong Speu and a visit with Naret and Veasna our 19 year-old teachers at two different homes in Psar Cha (Old Market). Bouncing down the next road, dust in the teeth, lychees and French bread with sweetened condensed milk (the road snack of choice) in our stomaches – we made it to our Home in Toul Serey to visit You Phally. Then it was over the bridge, and through the… banana trees to our Phdau Penn Home and Lida’s song-filled students. It was amazing to see the enthusiasm of the students at each stop and what the teachers have been able to do with slate boards. Yes,…slate boards and chalk. I can’t wait to see how great the teachers and kids do when we get a few more materials in their hands. The plan is to bring as many as 60 teachers to our Phnom Penh Center this summer and hold a one month Teacher Training Program covering materials, curriculum, lesson planning and teaching techniques. The hope is to provide academic support, an on-going communication network (idea swap), and a degree of standardization for the ESL program. Woooo…. Hoooo……


January didn’t have any coffee drinking geckos, or strolling scorpions, but it did have some “artistic” relief work done on my ankles by countless blood thirsty mosquitoes. We have sprays, vapors, smokes, and even electric tennis rackets for swatting/zapping them out of the air which does make it more of a sport. They have a sneaky team though.


What’s up with the EVT (English and Vocational Training) program:

We have the walls framed (45+ meters) and ready for wood siding. So our school is beginning to take shape. Emily, my coworker, has some plans for muraling with the kids so our walls will also tell a colorful story.

January had a little market research for the Khmer Products program with visits to the Toul Tom Pong Market to check out the silk and silver followed by a day trip out to OnDong Mountain to see the handmade baskets woven in the surrounding villages. For our Art program we have a teacher lined up who actually does the sign-age and promotional art for all movies coming out in Phnom Penh so that’s great. Along with the ESL classes and our Kids’ Library, here are blurbs for these projects I’m currently working on and hope to get on the Warm Blankets website.

Color, Composition and Kids: Help place a child’s creativity on canvas. Your support will provide essential art supplies and a trained instructor who will guide and inspire the imagination of each young artist. Student work will be available for purchase and the income will contribute to their future advanced education fund.

Stitch by stitch: Step on the petal and help our Khmer Products program grow. With your assistance we can purchase additional sewing machines and materials to build the training program and our line of beautiful items. The dresses, bags and purses are sold to sustain the program, provide individual incomes, and contribute to the education fund. One sewing machine can change many lives in many ways.

School Box: Change the lives of THIRTY kids with ONE box. The “School Box” you provide is packed with of all the textbooks, and classroom supplies needed for a full year of English lessons. The materials cover the needs of all the children in a Home, and help each language teacher travel from remote parts of the country to attend training programs and insure the most fun and effect use of the materials.

Kids’ Library:

This was an awesome month for the Library. Not only did our first boxes of books arrive, but our Warm Blankets/Karen Davis Team came bearing a huge bounty of books as well. The kids were so excited with all the books, and it was great to see each of their interests as they swapped books and dug deeper into the boxes. Socheat found a book on vegetables and was quick to ask for paper and pencils so he could start drawing and coloring each one. He did a beautiful job with the red chili and completed his masterpiece by titling and signing it. Other kids were well into the animals and flowers while others seemed to choose their books by size – going with any one that seemed to have the most pages to look at regardless of the subject. It was fun!!!! And it sounds like the book party will continue as I hear of more books being collected and sent to our Warm Blankets office to be shipped this way.

Things seen and learned this month:

  1. January is mango season and they are sliced, diced, chopped and eaten in any number of ways, but the most popular is picked still unripe, peeled and enjoyed with a little sweet chili sauce.

  2. Weddings here are a “hair raising” experience in more ways than one. First the men have their hair spiked with gel. The women have buns, beehives and big loopy curls. But maybe the most hair raising aspect is that the receptions are held more or less in the middle of the road with traffic continuing to zip by at full speed. Due to a lack of space in any one person’s home; a tent, entertainment stage, and chairs for all the guests are place right on the road in front of the house. It does make going for that piece of wedding cake an exciting experience as the trucks roll by inches away.
  3. A friend Chavvy said something very interesting and that I hadn’t heard/considered before. She is excited, but said that she and most Cambodians are nervous about opportunities or new ventures. I realized that we grew up with the “American dream” where anything is thought possible and we have never really had that idea taken away from us. Here, they have had that freedom to dream stripped away, either by horrific past events or the corruption that they see happening around them. So, they don’t easily jump into new ventures and of course most don’t have the means to even allow themselves to consider following a dream. They have an expression “madong muy madong muy”, which translates to “again one again one” or what we would say as “step by step”/”one step at a time.” So, things are moving along, but I think that it is good that it is ‘madong muy madong muy. I know I often wrongly focus on reaching that next dot, and not the line and people between the dots.

Oooooo…. the other team (mosquitoes) has sent in a fresh squad and they seem to have already begun to work on my elbow. Got go recharged my racket.



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