Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Kaitlin & Sean - Day 5

This morning we headed to the village to see how the wells turned out, and to finish our interviews for the Loan Project. Both of the wells are working wonderfully, and the villagers seem to be happy with them! We did 4 more interviews today, and one story was particularly interesting for us. A woman with seven children was among the first to receive a loan, and used the money to expand her small business. She had been a nurse prior to the Khmer Rouge, and because the Khmer Rouge killed many people with educations, she was forced to leave the medical field to avoid execution. She would now have to return to school to be a nurse again, and with 7 children, that is not an option. Her story is an example of how awful recent Cambodian history is, and how even educated people are still struggling here. We asked all of the people interviewed how the loans have helped them, and the project definitely seems to be a success!

This afternoon at Wat Thmei the students had another dialogue assignment. This one was more challenging than the last one, but everyone still did a great job. It is great to see students so proactive in their education. Most of the questions we still are getting are about vocabulary and pronounciation. Some English words are actually very hard to describe, and it was comical to listen to us attempt to explain them! Tomrrow is our last day at the school, and we are both going to miss working with these great students!

Kaitlin & Sean - Day 4

This morning we went to Wat Thmei to plant a garden in the front of the school. With the help of a few students and some of the resident monks, we cleaned up the grounds and prepared the beds for planting. We then headed with Brandon across the street to a nursery, where he picked out plants that will require little maintenance but still look nice. After lunch, we returned to the school and with so many helping hands, the garden was done in no time! A new sign for the school was also put up, and the school looks great now!

Kaitlin & Sean - Day 3

Today the well installation began in the village. We were supposed to go to the village at 8 a.m. with the well guys, but just as Brandon warned us about, they took their time getting here and we didn't leave until 10! Apparently that's how it always is in Cambodia....
Once in the village, we showed the men where the wells were going to be placed, and watched as they began jetting the holes. The jet pump method seems to work well in the soft clay and sand mixture that is here, rather than the New England rocky earth that we are used to at home. The process was interesting to watch both for us and the villagers, who all gathered around to watch as their new wells were installed! The men just created the holes and installed the pipe today, and will return tomorrow to finish.
In the afternoon, we returned to Wat Thmei and had an assignment to do with the students today. We read a restaurant dialogue with them, and answered questions about vocabulary, grammar, and pronounciation as we went along. Classes at Wat Thmei are exactly what school should be - lots of fun while learning a lot!

Kaitlin & Sean - Day 2

This morning we headed to a nearby squatter's village with Brandon. We had two missions today: first to interview participants in JWOC's Loan Project, and second, to find locations for the next two wells to be built. Journeys has just started the Loan Project, which provides microloans to people in the village. So far the program seems to be very successful, and it was interesting to hear everyone's stories. We interviewed two people who have gotten loans through Journeys, and it sounds as though the loans have helped both of their businesses become even more successful. Although we have been in Cambodia for a few days now, this was the first time we had witnessed such impoverished living conditions. The houses in the village are not much more than one room huts, many with dirt floors, and all with large numbers of people living in them. Perhaps the most surprising observation we had was how everyone was quick to smile and hospitable, despite living in such poor conditions. After we finished our interviews, we walked though the rest of the village to determine which locations would be best for two new wells. Many people are using water pits as their main source of water, and although the pits provide cleaner water than some other sources, it is still quite unsanitary. We tried to choose locations that were central to many homes so that the clean water would be accessible to as many people as possible. We will return tomorrow with the well guys to begin installation.

After lunch we headed back to Wat Thmei to help at the English classes again. Today we spent a lot of time taking questions about specific words that were confusing, and also about pronounciation. We also were asked many questions about our families and childhoods. The students are all eager to learn and teaching is quite easy with such great students! Again, we had a great day and can't wait for tomorrow!

Kaitlin & Sean - Day 1

Hello! We are Kaitlin and Sean from Connecticut, USA, and we are here in Cambodia for 2 weeks. We are doing a Give and Take Tour through Journeys Within, which means we spend half of our time here volunteering, and half sightseeing. Today was the first day of volunteering, and we went to Wat Thmei Pagoda School, a language school sponsored by Journeys. We spent the two hours meeting the students and helping them practice their English conversational skills. We were both impressed with how well many of the students spoke English, especially those that have only been studying for a year or so! We got lots of questions about how schools are in the U.S. and it seemed as though they were all very interested in education and careers in America. We had a great time and can't wait to go back tomorrow afternoon!

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Travel Aid Photos

Travel Aid Volunteers next to their donated well

Two shy girls below the well donated by Travel Aid.

The Travel Aid Sign

The mother shows how clean the water is!

A typical water source in Cambodia

Conducting a household survey

Rhodri with the kids

Check it out: it's a soccer ball!

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