Sept. 2010

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Hope your Fall is shaping up nicely. Over here it seems that when it rains it dragon flies! Time to dawn the waders, and inflate the water-wings for the Hyundai. We are having a late rainy season, but it seems the waters stored up over the last two month just came down in the last two days. I teased with the kids yesterday that I caught several big fish for dinner while I was driving to the Center for their English lessons. As for the dragon flies, any moment the rains slightly let up, they’re out in force filling the sky like some crazy traffic scene from Star Wars where cars are darting up, down, left, right, forward and somehow backwards. Ok so.., my little Hyundai might not dart in any direction, but it’s sure not a bad swimmer. Gotta love when your car will take a licking and keep on… well…. doggy-paddling across town.


From dragon flies and fish to birds and new abodes, Naomi and I just moved to a little one-bedroom nest. It’s a bit like climbing Everest to get there with all the stairs and switch-backs, but the view over the city is sure nice. And the price of $150 a month is pretty hard to beat (rents here can run from $50 for a small box to a couple thousand a month if you want a ten room villa). There’s a lot to be said for keeping it simple, and moving light. We only needed to use a rope and our backs to pull a mattress and two small armoires up the four stories. The other few boxes made it up the switch-backs. Fortunately, when you live in a place were 25 people squeeze in or on a mini van, and 50 plus chicken can make it on a moped, then a few people huffing and puffing as they pull furniture up the outside of a tall building doesn’t draw much attention.


School’s in! The kids are up at 5:00; showered, shampooed, shined, and fed, then out the gate by 6:30. We’ve made a few adjustments to our English schedule, with conversation classes on Mondays and Tuesdays followed by computer classes on Wednesdays and Thursdays. And Siem Reap, one of our twelfth graders is back in action and teaching our youngest kids. Every evening he’s got them, singing, playing, reading and writing their way through the ABC’s, and then they are off to use the computers and Rosetta Stone as well. It’s fun to see the kids for each class peering through the windows of the computer room waiting for their chance to slip on the headphones and get their hands on the keys. There’s really no need for incentivizing, but kids are kids, and they have asked me to come up with a prize for the top two or three kids in each class/level. Their smart in more ways than ten!


It’s such a good thing when friends come to town. They always get you to see those places in your backyard or just around the corner. Tricia, a friend for San Francisco, was here and we not only ran around town, but down to our church/home in Bakou for a fun visit and to see the kids in English action. Then, as we had the Pchum Ben holiday and a couple free days, we drove down to Kampong Som for the beach and some snorkeling. Check out the picture of Naomi dawning a mask and snorkel for the first time. We also visited our Kampong Som Home and the kids from Phnom Penh who are looking forward to starting a two year hotel management program at the Don Bosco school. It’s exciting to watch the kids grow up and grow out.


Speaking of excitement; “At the wire it’s Flip-flops by a strap!” They ran a tight race the full length of the track staying neck and toe from the start. Not until the very end did Flip-flops really throw him, her, or is it… themselves over the finish line. Flip-flops finished at $2,075 and Pj’s at $1,775. That’s awesome, and what it translates to is 1,384 happy kids in fancy, new flip-flops and 1,183 kids sporting a colorful set of play clothes. Thank you so much for running this race with the kids. Your support funds will be in at the end of this month, then we will be off to purchase and deliver everything by the beginning of November. Pictures on the way soon. I will keep you posted on future competitions; ‘pencils’ and ‘notebooks’ look to be stretching and lacing up their shoes.


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


Zip, zing… the sewing machines are singing, and new, very-cool bags are coming out left, right and center. The girls have upgraded the shoulder bags with adjustable straps, additional pockets and a good looking trim that strengthens the bag overall. They have also taken note of the popularity of the sporty drawstring backpacks, and developed their own version with traditional Cambodian materials and stitched designs. They have also created practical cosmetics/toiletries bags that catch all those things that often bounce around the inside of a suitcase or purse. I’m putting together some photos so you can see a little more clearly just what they are doing. Keep some openings on your Christmas shopping list. As mentioned the girls use traditional Cambodian materials, which means they can cut two or three that have the same pattern, keeping the bags in limited edition. We can do similar colorations, but hand weaving always brings in a little variation. Each bag also comes with a small ‘business’ card that has a photo and gives a little background on the girl that sewed your bag for you. Just email me with the bag style, coloration, quantity, and (for clarity) the price of the item. I will be in the US by December 12th, and have them in the mail to you by the 14th. See the pictures for a little sample of the bags. I will put together a set of photos and a letter with more details on the program, and have it to you soon.

Shoulder bag/messenger bag:

  1. Medium: (12” wide by 10” high) $15.00

  2. Large: (15”wide by 12” high) $20.00


Drawstring backpacks: $15.00

Woman’s handbag: $25.00

Computer/shoulder bag: $25.00

(18”wide by 14” high)


Cosmetic/Toiletries bag:

  1. flat $ 7.00

  2. box shaped $ 7.00

Khromas (traditional scarf): $ 7.00

Dishtowel Dolls: $15.00

Well, I better stop here. No doubt you need a coffee, or the one you had is long gone by now. Thank you for all your support.

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