Tuesday, March 25, 2014

The Collette Foundation caring for our community

Our school in Cambodia has over 700 students attending classes every week and many more visiting for workshops, the library and fun activities. It is constantly buzzing and has become a true refuge and opportunity-builder for our local community. This amazing school was in part made possible by Collette Cares, the not for profit arm of Collette Vacations. Their generous donation allowed JWOC to build the new school and allows for hundreds of students to better themselves and have a brighter future.

The great part about the Collette Foundation being part of building and maintaining our school as well as our other projects is that they can now bring their travelers to visit our projects and see the work that Collette is part of. Once or twice a month, usually on a Friday, a large bus pulls up outside JWOC and guests visiting Cambodia with Collette Vacations are able to visit the JWOC Conversation Class.

This class was developed for exactly this reason…so that our students could have a chance to meet with native English speakers and put their English learning skills to the test. It also is a way for our supporters to really meet and interact with the Cambodian people, learning more about their lives and goals.

Our students really enjoy their time at conversation class and for them it is invaluable practice and a chance to take what they have learned in the classroom and put it into practice. The hour class always flies by. At the end of class there are smiles all round and in just one hour it is amazing how people from such distant cultures can bond so closely.

Collette Cares have provided us with financial support every year since our partnership started in 2008. Their help has allowed us to build classrooms, toilets, fund our Kindergarten classes and our Clean Water Project. Foundations such as Collette Cares help grassroots organizations truly achieve their vision. Certainly, in our case, without the help of Collette much of what we do would not be possible so we thank them and look forward to the next group to visit our Conversation Class and Journeys Within Our Community.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Konthea gives an update on the Home Gardens Program

I am Konthea, the Community Liaison and Assistance Program Manager. Since I started working for JWOC in 2013 I have felt very happy with what I have accomplished so far. This period of time has given me the chance to provide assistance to the poor villagers in the rural areas around JWOC.

Currently, I am working in a village called, Bang Koang. It is about 28 kilometers to the East of Siem Reap. There are 250 households in this village and most of them are poor families. They work as farmers, construction workers and other seasonal jobs such as fishing. Most women just stay at home, take care of their children and look after the animals. Some of them also like planting vegetables when there is enough water. Anyway, this village is always flooded and people can only plant vegetables between January and March.

Since I started working in this village, my team and I have provided information to people regarding vocational training, health care service and nutrition, and we initiated the Home gardens project to encourage the growth of organic vegetables in the area providing nutritional benefits and also a chance for families to make an income. There are two cycles of the Home Gardens project in this village, while in previous villages there were only one cycle.

One thing that has made me happy is the improvement of my team. Previously, we hired an expert for the whole training period, but this time he was hired for only 60% of the whole process and the rest was done by the scholarship students. They are able and confident enough to provide training to beneficiaries on composting and soil preparation before planting. That is one reason that some of the project cost has decreased.

I want to tell you a story about one of our Home garden beneficiaries. Her name is Pan. She is about 55 years old with eight children. Three of her sons and daughter are married, but the others are still young and need to be supported by her and her husband who has HIV.  She lives in a small wooden house on a hill. She is illiterate, but she likes planting. When she joined the Home Garden training she depended on listening and joining the practice at the group leader’s house. Later, when she started doing it on her own, everything was carried out perfectly.

She had previous experience in planting spring onion and chili. Now she is very happy that she knows how to plant cucumber, string bean, bitter gourd and tomato. She told me she never imagined that her hill land could be used for planting this type of vegetable as it is very hard and not rich at all.

Dry and liquid compost has made her land become good and rich. She then, buys more seed on her own to plant more and other kinds of vegetable, kale and eggplant.

Now she has many kinds of vegetable for eating with her own family, share with her neighbors and sell in the village. She told me that the profit she is making from her garden will be used to extend her garden in the near future. There is a well provided by JWOC’s clean water program to three families around including hers, it will enable her to have enough water for all the vegetables.


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