Thursday, December 27, 2012

Vantha reflects on the importance on the scholarship programme

In this post Vantha discusses the difference a JWOC scholarship can make and shares some photos of the new students with their families and homes. 

There are many students who try hard to fight the education battle to help them achieve their future goals. Students have different opportunities and some have fewer chances than the others. They have to find jobs or scholarships to support their education and for living expenses. They are hoping and believing that the higher education will help them to achieve their goals.

The process of scholarship student recruitment for JWOC Scholarships 2012 made JWOC able to help 27 students to cross from the darkness to the brightness. JWOC made a good choices to pick up the strongest students that have commitment with their study, they really want to make their dreams become true.

I am so excited to be the Scholarship Programme Coordinator as I can see how important the scholarship programme is for students who really need help from someone or somewhere. When I visit homes I can see their family’s faces so happy to see their children receiving support and start moving to positive life, better than they have.

Education makes students change from feeling hopeless. That is why support from our donors is really important. With donor support we give students best resources and increase human resources in Cambodia and build up the strong humanity in the community and society.

The photos below show some of the new scholarship students with their family members. You see their living situations and condition which have made challenges for them.

Piseth in Scholarship t-shirt and with his family‘s photo above

Chamroeun in Scholarship t-shirt and with her family outside their house, below

SaEm in Scholarship t-shirt and with her big family‘s photo below

The photo of the road to scholarship student’s house took while home visit process. It is so difficult to get to the house because some part of the road cannot drive motorbike in; we have to walk through the flooded area.

Sreynou in Scholarship t-shirt and with her father

The happiness photo of all new scholarship students in fist time to meet each other at JWOC 2012.

To find out more about the Scholarship Programme take a look here-

Sunday, December 02, 2012

Gift Giving with JWOC

Season's Greetings! 

It’s December already and we’re counting down to the holiday season. This year JWOC has got four great ways to help you celebrate this time of giving while also helping communities in Cambodia, Laos and Myanmar.

Find out more below- we’re certain you’ll find something that fits what you are looking for!

By choosing a JWOC Gift for friends and family, you are sending something special that not only shows you care but also helps our projects in Southeast Asia. From books to microloans there’s a range of giving levels to choose from.

We’ll send an e-letter, with a personalized message from you, to your recipient letting them know of the great gift you have chosen for them.

Just register with iGive and buy your holiday gifts at any of its 1000+ participating stores and JWOC will receive a portion of the sales. There’s no cost to you and no cost to us- a real holiday win-win!

JWOC has set up a shop on redbubble. Featuring a collection of eye-catching pictures from our projects and the countries we work in our shop is a wonderful place to order prints and greeting cards.

After clicking on the picture you like you’ll see the options for ordering- from a postcard to a large framed print.

You can also order our beautiful 2013 calendar.

If you give via Crowdrise you get to design your own e-card to let your recipient know you’ve donated in their honor. You could choose a nice, festive portrait of yourself to adorn the front cover- like this one from Free Classes Project Manager Somit!


Saturday, November 17, 2012

Making a difference from afar at Thanksgiving

As hard as it is to believe, November is here again and Thanksgiving is just around the corner. For the first time in 10 years I am actually celebrating Thanksgiving here in the US, a strange experience after years of trying desperately to find a turkey dinner in Cambodia! The truth is that I’ve struggled to write this letter because living in California again I feel further from the amazing projects and daily inspiration of JWOC. Then I realized, this is how our donors and supporters feel!

 It’s hard when I’m here to remember the villages that didn’t have clean water, but always had a smile; the scholarship students who every time they saw me ran up and told me about their latest accomplishment and the hundreds of students that flock into our school to study English, learn basic IT or just to read a book in our peaceful and clean library. Like everyone I’m consumed by my own kids’ lives, my work, getting dinner on the table and in the day- to-day business of life, and I forget the everyday struggle so many people face in Southeast Asia and the amazing work that JWOC does to help them better their lives.

This year alone we’ve brought clean water to 13,000 children in Siem Reap through our Clean Water for Schools initiative. We’ve had over 700 students a week pass through our gates and attend our classes or enjoy our library, we’ve given 36 new scholarships to students who otherwise would have no chance of going to university and expanding their horizons further than they or their parents ever imagined. All of our projects continue to grow in strength and impact communities in Cambodia, Laos and Myanmar.

Writing this I’m reminded of how proud I am of what we’ve accomplished.  I say ‘we’ because without our donors Brandon and I would just have had an idea, nothing more, it’s because of you that we were able to take that idea and see it grow beyond what we ever thought possible!

This letter is a thank you to you and a heartfelt plea to also remember the communities JWOC is a part of. Like you I no longer have a daily reminder of the work we do for the people of Southeast Asia, but also like you, I’ve been touched by them, by their perseverance, by their gratitude and by their smiles. I look forward to going back and seeing first-hand all the work JWOC is doing, but for now, please join me in going online and donating so our projects can continue and we can make a difference from afar.

Happy Thanksgiving and Many Blessings,

JWOC Founder

P.S. If you are already thinking ahead to buying holiday presents, remember JWOC Gifts – they are a great way to show you care! 

Friday, November 16, 2012

Sreylin shares her story.

 A recent JWOC Graduate, Sreylin Chum, shares the experiences she had whilst volunteering for four years in JWOC’s Free Classes Project.  In this post she discusses the knowledge she gained, the opportunities it provided, and her future goals and aspirations. To find out more about JWOC’s Scholarship Programme click here

  I had been teaching many different children and adults classes while I was volunteering at JWOC. From what I remember, I had been teaching both children and adults classes for about three years and only adult classes for the last year before I graduated from university. It means, I had been teaching in Free Classes project at JWOC for the whole four years at university.

I have learnt quite a lot from my volunteering at JWOC such as, teaching skills/ techniques, lesson planning for children and adults class, time and classroom management, students monitoring and controlling and student’s error correction especially using student centre approach etc. Besides direct teaching, I had been attending almost every teacher development workshop so that I have absorbed a lot of knowledge related to teaching. I believe it was vital. Moreover, I know how to use teaching resources and create games, extra activities and materials and interact with my students very well.

I feel that four years teaching English experience at JWOC is fantastic because it could turn me to be a professional teacher plus I studied English at university so it has helped me to improve my English and my teaching a lot before graduating. I also wanted to volunteer with other projects at JWOC, just time flied so I couldn’t change or volunteer with the different project. Anyway, I was so glad to be a teacher at JWOC. I love teaching students at JWOC very much because it was the best memory. I cannot describe how much love JWOC and I have learnt from JWOC because it is more than you can say or tell.

Now, I am working as a coordinator for young adult preparation and integration program at Anjali House in Siem Reap.

By volunteering at JWOC, it definitely makes a big change to my life and helps me find a better job. Without volunteering experiences at JWOC, I would not be able to work in my position today. Now, with my work I teach life skills and English to young adults so it is a great opportunity for me to use the knowledge I have gained from volunteering at JWOC and at university.

My dream is to run a small NGO, providing all the children in the countryside the same opportunities to access to their education in order to help reduce the illiteracy in Cambodia or I want to work in the international non- profit organization for my future job.

JWOC is an amazing place to train me to be a professional teacher and give students the same opportunities to study. I can say that, JWOC gives me everything I do have now and I won’t be able to forget JWOC and what JWOC has provided me especially, I had made many friends and helped teaching hundreds of students. Gaining and Sharing at the same time at JWOC, Isn’t it marvelous?

All in all, I would like to appreciate for all support from JWOC and I personally believe that JWOC always makes a difference! With a great slogan “See a problem, solve a problem”.

By Sreylin Chum

Sunday, November 04, 2012

Stories from Community Liaison and Assistance

In this post we look at two of the people helped by JWOC’s Community Liaison and Assistance Project. This project was started last year in response to the extended flooding that hit Cambodia and other parts of Southeast Asia. Our activities were initially relief work but as the water went away we started to work more with recovery efforts such as repairing roads. Through our ongoing Liaison work, matching people in need with services and facilities offered by other NGOs, we are able to help strengthen communities’ ability to cope with emergencies by improving their food supplies and economic situation. We can’t prevent emergencies but we can help to make families less vulnerable.  

Noeurn lives in Antangkun, a small village 30 kilometeres ( 18 miles) from Siem Reap. Like most people in Cambodia she is a rice farmer, working alongside her husband. Noeurn has tried growing vegetables at home in the past using techniques learnt from her parents but often the results weren’t good and she felt her efforts were not rewarded.

Since joining JWOC’s Home Vegetable Garden activities Noeurn’s success with vegetable production has increased greatly. She said “I received technical skills training and materials assistance from the project and now I am skillful in vegetable growing”. Using the materials and knowledge provided by JWOC Noeurn is able to grow enough vegetables to both enhance her family’s diet and have surplus to sell at the market.

JWOC’s Home Vegetable Garden activities involve practical training sessions on all aspects of vegetable production. The participative sessions are run by a local expert who has long experience in training villagers about modifications to traditional farming techniques that make a real difference to production.

To see pictures from one of the training sessions please take a look here.

A Chance at a New Livelihood

Touch is 20 years old and from Peam village a rural village in Siem Reap Province. She is from a rice farming family but was keen to develop her vocational skills so she could start a new job that would earn her more money. Our Liaison team worked with Touch to find out more about she wanted to learn and were able to enroll her in a free sewing course.

Touch is very happy with the new course and all she is learning and she shows real commitment to making a change for herself. She told the team “Sewing skills are useful for me to run my own shop in my home-village to make money for supporting myself and family. Even though the training place is very far from my home-village, I don’t mind. I learnt a lot from this course- not only sewing skill also business concepts from trainer.”

The Liaison team continues to match many people with services including training courses, language classes and medical assistance.  

Tuesday, October 09, 2012

A note from Seng, Clean Water Manager

In this post new Clean Water Manager Seng talks about the current Clean Water activities and what is coming up next. 

I am Seng and I have been working two months as Clean Water Project Manager in Journeys Within Our Community organization, but I was previously a scholarship student and I have been volunteering in clean water project more than three years. Before starting my work for JWOC, I had been teaching at secondary school for 9 years. Having been volunteering with the Clean Water Project for 3 years, I had noticed that this project is very important to the local community. I really like the project. I hope to use my chance at JWOC to get better by trying all my best, because helping JWOC is really to help the community, Cambodian people, which suits my aim. I really want my people to be better. This job is really the step for me to get success.

Nowadays, we are about to finish the present village, Ta Kam village, that is in Dounkeo commune, Puok District, Siem Reap Province. Much improvement has been seen in the village, the people have enough water to use, clean water to supply their lives and changing some habit in doing the hygiene practice, because of good implementation and hard work of scholarship students.

At school, we had just finished only specialized training of the teachers and we had to stop because there was a big holiday, at the beginning of July to the end of September. What we finished at school, I think it was very successful because all teachers were cheerful with our project and they joined with us happily and they were able to understand what information we provide them easily. I hope the next step in the project at school, student training, will also get good achievements.

During October, we are going to work in the office to prepare for the new village and school that will start in November because of much rain and flood during October in the rainy season in Cambodia. Anyway, we are waiting for new scholarship students to come while most students in the team have graduated.. The processes over the next few months will last longer than before because we implement the Clean Water Project in two different places, school processing on Saturday and village processing on Sunday.

Thank you for reading my update and for supporting Clean Water in Cambodia!

Thursday, September 06, 2012

2012 Back to School Wish List

UPDATE: We have now received funding for all the items on the list! Thank you to everyone that donated and helped make Back to School a success.

Back to School! This familiar phrase is all around us now, signifying the end of the summer vacation and the start of another school year! 

For many parents and grandparents it’s a time of buying all that is needed for the new school year- books, uniforms, pens and more. This September we’re asking that alongside your regular purchases you also buy something for a child in Southeast Asia. 

JWOC has a Back to School Wish List of things we need to help us give children the opportunity to learn and create. Take a look at the list here and see what you could donate. 

2012 Back to School Wish List

Uniform set for a school child - $10
Uniforms are compulsory in the state schools in Laos, but the cost is prohibitive for many of those living in rural areas. By providing a uniform you are providing an opportunity to go to school. The set consists of two shirts or blouses and two skirts or trousers plus a pair of shoes.  

JWOC Teacher sets - $14
JWOC’s Free Classes Project relies on its enthusiastic and committed teachers to be able to deliver free but high quality English and Computer classes. This teacher set provides our teachers in Cambodia and Laos with the basics they need to run their classes. Each set consists of 3 refillable board markers and ink, 1 board eraser, 1 folder to keep all the paperwork neat and a copy of the Teachers’ Book for the course they teach. 

Muang Nga Teacher packs- $20 
Limited government funding on education means public schools don’t always get the budget they need. These teachers’ packs make sure that the teachers at Muang Nga Primary School in Laos get at least the essentials so they can get started with their classes. Each pack consists of pens, markers, chalk, attendance books, report paper and other needed school stationary. 

Class set of mini-whiteboards- $25
These mini-whiteboards help make language learning fun by providing scope for numerous interactive games and practical activities. These will be used in our Free Classes in Laos, enhancing the lessons of students of all ages and levels. Each set consists of 20 boards, pens and erasers. 

Class set of mini-white board pens- $4 
Last year we were fortunate to have sets of mini-white boards funded for our classes in Cambodia. This year we would like boxes of replacement pens so teachers can keep using the boards for fun and participative activities. 

Visual aids kit- $25
Visual aids and props can really enhance a lesson, whether for children or adults. Tactical learners especially appreciate being able to handle the new vocabulary while role plays allow teachers to take situations out of the textbook and into real life. We would like to provide two kits for Muang Nga School to help our teachers teach and our students learn. 

Class set of English course materials - $40 
Being able to study English for free is an amazing opportunity for disadvantaged children living in Southeast Asia. JWOC’s Free Classes provide this chance to over 700 students. These sets of course materials provide our young students in Cambodia and Laos with their own copy of the textbook and workbook. 

Complete set of language learning flashcards- $55
Flashcards help make lessons more interesting, interactive and fun, benefiting both our teachers and students. These complete sets cover all key vocabulary at each level we teach in Laos. The cards are in colour and laminated making them eye-catching and durable. 

Reading and Drawing class materials - $100
Opportunities for reading and creative activities are very often lacking from the public school timetable due to the time constraints caused by having too few schools and teachers. JWOC’s Reading and Drawing Classes in Laos give children those opportunities. The set of materials consists of children’s books in the local language, colouring sheets, crayons, coloured paper, glue, scissors and more and will replenish the set bought last year. Mark your donation- Drawing 

Toys for the library toy box- $100
Our library is getting more popular by the day and it’s time for some new toys. We would like to double our number of building blocks, add to our range of puzzles and introduce a few new soft toy characters. For children coming from some of the poorest households in town our library and its toy box are a wonderful opportunity to play and be creative. 

Pre- School Mats - $60 
The pre-school classroom at Muang Nga School in Laos is in need of a set of replacement floor mats. These mats make a comfortable and clean playing and learning area perfect for small ones attending the growing pre-school class. 

CD Player - $35
Our school in Cambodia has been using the same CD players since it opened and a couple of them are now giving up on us! We need to replace them as being able to provide listening practice via the course CD is vital for our older students and for our younger students sing-along songs are a great way to learn. 

Computer for lesson preparation -$450
Our scholarship student teachers running our Free Classes in Laos currently don’t have regular access to a computer, relying on the small number offered by the university or having to try to work in internet cafes.  We would like to provide them with a dedicated laptop to allow them to prepare lessons and research teaching methodologies and resources online as well complete their university assignments. 

5 hula-hoops - $25
Despite many children having not had the opportunity to use one before hula-hooping has become a huge hit at JWOC’s school in Cambodia! At any time of day you’ll find several children practicing their skills or inventing new moves. The hoops are also incorporated into learning activities and games in the library and kindergarten.

10 class sets of certificates- $15
In our Free Classes in Cambodia and Laos we award certificates to all students that successfully complete their English or Computing course. Receiving a certificate is a proud moment for all our students and for the adults it provides them with proof of a qualification they can use to help to apply for jobs. Recognizing their hard work and achievement spurs our students on to study well again in the future. 

Thank you!

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Playing games and making friends...

In her blog Claire describes the themes and games of the different summer activity weeks as well as making a new Khmer friend....
My name is Claire and I am one of the five volunteer staff who came to JWOC from England to run the Summer School this year. I am halfway through studying an English Language and Literature degree at Oxford University and I am 19 years old.
I have had a wonderful time teaching at JWOC over the past month and I believe this was down to the flexibility of the work that we were given to undertake. The opportunity to be allowed to plan and arrange our own teaching schedule gave us real experience in planning, constructing and carrying out a lesson, as well as the flexibility to be able to adapt our lessons as we gained teaching experience over the three weeks. For instance, after the first few days we discovered that playing games with the children only consumed half the time we had initially planned for them whilst craft activities took twice as long!
In the planning period of our four weeks we decided to divide the three weeks of activities thematically week by week, as we thought this would help guide the vocabulary we were teaching as well as the type of games we wanted to plan. Our three themes ended up being Cambodian Life and Culture, Nature and Around the World. Cambodian Life and Culture Week consisted of discussing each other’s families and their different lifestyles, the different types of homes in a Cambodian village and what it means to be Khmer alongside what it means to be British. During this week we undertook tasks such as T-shirt painting, friendship bracelets, creating a friendship tree out of decorated cut-outs of the children’s hands and playing Khmer New Year games. Another particular highlight was when four of the students also took it upon themselves to show us traditional Khmer dancing. A favourite of these activities was the friendship bracelets; occupying them for an hour and a half, they asked every day when we could do it again, which due to the flexibility of our lesson plan we were able to do so.
In turn, Nature Week was great fun, particularly when it came to the crafts. Some of the more successful activities we undertook were the making of animal masks and animal puppets; a giant under-the-sea display of sharks, octopuses and other sea creatures; a huge snake made out of decorated toilet rolls and a game of pin-the-tail on a very large home-made elephant, (which was put together by some of the volunteers.) Most of these then went on display in the library! 
Animal themed games such as duck-duck-goose were a great way of re-grouping the children during the tricky period between the first and second session where we lost some of the children to JWOC lessons or school. My favourite part of the week was a game we devised where we took the Chicken Licken story and changed the characters names to animals (for example, Chicken Licken became Ellie Elephant) and then set the children in a circle and assigned them different characters from the story. The rule was that if you heard your character name you had to jump up and run around the circle back to your place. As the narrative became more repetitive and more characters became involved meant that this was not as easy as it seemed. Furthermore, their favourite English song that we taught them was “in the Jungle”, in the style of The Lion King! To finish the week, we watched the entire film. Tears came when Mufasa died as did huge laughs when Timone and Pumba fought off the hyenas.
Finally, Around the World Week was all about learning where Cambodia is in relation to the rest of the world and learning about other cultures. During this week we made flag hands and our own world map, on which we stuck the hands to make the biggest display of the summer school. Although I had to fly home two days early before the end of the summer school, the rest of the week was spent building up to and preparing for the great JWOC Olympics, a sporting event mighty enough to challenge the London Olympics that were going on in England!
Finally, another aspect of the experience I loved was the opportunity of having a Khmer partner, Sampos, who aside becoming a great friend also helped me to breach the cultural and language barrier and taught me far more about Cambodian culture than I could ever have learned as an outsider. I will miss her very much, although hopefully we will continue to email frequently! Overall, I had a brilliant month at JWOC and I think the quality of the work the JWOC team has been doing is best advertised by the children, who were definitely the best part of the whole experience for me!

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Art at JWOC

In this post Merabi, one of the TravelAid team, talks about the role of art at JWOC and introduces their wonderful mural....

Arts and crafts are an important part of JWOC. Regular art classes are held for the children, where singing, dancing and story-telling are combined with art. And so, when planning our summer activities program, we made sure to include plenty of opportunities for the children to let their creative sides flourish.

In the past three weeks the children have created drums, shakers, cookie box guitars, friendship bracelets, paper-mache globes, fabric mice, a world map, a loo-roll snake, animal masks and several drawings. Whenever any of these activities were carried out, the children would sink into a deep level of concentration and determination. The artistic challenges set were not always easy but with the right amount of guidance, the children were able to create some unique pieces of art.

As the children tackled these tasks, the team was left with their own artistic challenge. We remembered that at some point in our introductory week, Nicola had given us the job of decorating one of the blank walls in the school’s back garden. We were asked to make sure that nothing was left unpainted, and that the mural kept to the theme of ‘nature’.

Thus, in our last week, we began to work on the mural. At first, we had no idea of what to paint. After discussing some thoughts, we soon decided that we couldn’t think of anything. Luckily, fellow volunteer Rees had been sketching all along and presented us with the A4 drawing shown below.  Within an evening, Rees had penciled in the main outline. At this point, it was up to me and my Khmer partner Sopaekday to paint the wall. 

With no experience of painting, Sopaekday and I began to plan. We envisaged lilac elephants, bears with yellow bellies, golden coconut trees and monkeys with questionable haircuts. Along the way we made several mistakes, like painting the foreground before the background, or forgetting which colours mix to make brown.

Eventually, with the help of several other team members, we produced the mural below. The two elephants represent JWOC.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Exiting and rewarding...

Ellie, a member of the TravelAid team from Oxford University,writes here about what she learnt and loved during her month with JWOC....

Finishing university was a daunting prospect, and the knowledge that I would be leaving England almost immediately after to spend a month volunteering in Cambodia (a country I knew almost nothing about) made it even more so! However, JWOC has proved to be an incredible experience, with experiences and challenges that were always exciting and rewarding.

The month began with us meeting our Khmer interns, which involved playing various team-building games to get to know each other. Having been involved I various theatre productions, I am well acquainted with these sorts of games, but playing them with people who do not speak the same language fluently, and in the Cambodian heat, was a very new experience! 

I was paired with a boy called Khin, who has been a great help and friend throughout my time at JWOC. Khin, a 23 year-old from Prey Veng province in Siem Reap, is the youngest in a large family, with 2 sisters and 7 brothers. He is currently teaching at a nearby school, and although he had originally wanted to become a business man, his dream is now changing, and he hopes to go to university. Working at JWOC on this summer school will help him in this, as this valuable experience will improve his applications for a scholarship. Throughout the summer school, Khin proved to be an enormous help – the three years he spent as a monk have left him with a calm and accepting demeanor, which was certainly helpful when working with the children!

The summer school itself, and the children who attended, was a delight from start to finish. As we began planning, we found games and songs that we learnt as children come flooding back to us. The project was daunting initially, as we were given complete freedom to plan and carry out the activities ourselves. At first this left us feeling somewhat overwhelmed with the task before us – none of us had ever been responsible for over 30 children with few guidelines before! But as the month progressed we found ourselves rising to the challenge. Although we found that we had simply not planned enough activities for the first few days, we successfully worked together to find new ways to entertain the children. By the end of the month we were all confident and accomplished at running the activities.

We tried to incorporate arts and crafts into each of the days, as many of the children came from a severely deprived background, where such luxuries as coloured paper, crayons, and glitter pens do not feature. As part of the advertising for our summer school we visited the nearby village where most of the children live. This was a harrowing experience; I had never seen such levels of poverty before, and it contrasted sharply with the happy, affectionate children who attended JWOC. Throughout the month the children were unfailing smiling and friendly, and we all formed strong bonds with them. Despite their lack of previous opportunities to partake in many arts and crafts activities, they took to them with gusto, and produced an astounding range of pictures and models, from papier m√Ęche globes, to animal masks, as well as countless drawings. A firm favourite was making friendship bracelets, which everyone loved!

As well as these activities, every day included songs and games, and the children quickly established their favourites: Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes (sung at various speeds and volumes!) and Splat became regulars. We played numerous party games, and also discovered their enjoyment for word games, such as Hangman, Pictionary, and Bingo. The Khmer interns also taught us various Khmer games which were a huge success with the children. One of the best mornings was at the end of the week themed ‘Around the World’, when we held a mini-Olympics. The children were split into two teams – team UK and team Cambodia – and competed in various races, such as the sack race, the three-legged race, and memorably the wheelbarrow race. It was a happy ending with the two teams drawing, and medals (which the children had made the previous day) being awarded to everyone.

Alongside all of this, we were also given the opportunity to observe some of the many amazing projects that JWOC is involved with, such as the Clean Water project, and the Microfinance project. These trips gave us further opportunities to meet Khmer students, and to observe traditional Khmer lifestyles. We were also charged with painting a new mural, which was hugely enjoyable, and a source of endless fascination to the children.

My time at JWOC has been simply incredible. Although the summer school was daunting, being given this degree of freedom is an opportunity that I haven't had before, and I’ve loved every minute of it.


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