Wednesday 29 January 2014

Dentist Trip

One of the brightest of the bright Harpswell girls is currently studying at Bowdoin College in the USA.  She's on a year abroad before she goes back to Cambodia. 

A problem has arisen and she needs some emergency dental treatment which isn't covered by her university medical insurance.

Having clarified that "emergency" doesn't mean teeth whitening and/or veneers, I want to try and help.  I absolutely hate having my teeth done, but when it needs to be done, it needs to be done. Much better to fix the problem now than risk having no teeth by 35.

If you would like to help her specifically or just donate generally to The Harpswell Foundation, please donate via the official Harpswell Foundation website link below:

No doubt, she will be very grateful! She needs $500 and I have donated $100 - which is actually showing as only £62. Conversion rate isn't as bad as I thought it would be?!

I'm heading back to Cambodia on 23 February for a week.  One of my oldest friends Jo is hopefully coming too. Yippee!  Can't wait to see what she thinks of it all. We'll definitely post a picture of us out there.

Might have to take the girls to play golf again?!  Watch this space.

Thursday 19 September 2013

Help Kimlai

Kimlai has entered a competition to win English classes for one year at ACE in Phnom Penh.  It's through IDP and IELTS for anyone who knows about English as a foreign language. 

She has to get the highest number of votes for a picture of her studying.  The picture on the link was taken in the library on the second floor of the Harpswell Dormitory (which is the place where I was living for 3 months).

Really easy. Just click on the link below, enter your email address and press "vote". 

She has a mischievous laugh and is great fun so I think she's done well to look so studious in this picture!

Kimlai is on the left. Again, striking a pose. This time with me, Nat and Lina for the Harpswell culture show.


Monday 26 August 2013


Only 2 days to go. I leave tomorrow.  I am going to miss Sampours very much. She makes me wonderful iced coffee in the mornings...I will also miss seeing lizards scurry across the floor when I walk into the kitchen.

Leaving Party

They held a fantastic leaving party for me on Saturday evening and the first years presented me with a beautiful painting of Angkor Wat with their names on the back.  Sokeang gave me a beautiful blue and pink silk scarf as a thank you from Harpswell. 

Killing Fields

Yesterday I went to The Killing Fields with Roith, Siekmouy and Kimlai. It is a very moving place and has very helpful audio information if you ever want to go.

DC Cam New Movie

We also watched the preview of a new movie by DC Cam "Don't think I have forgotten". Currently in the final stages of editing (it is currently 1 hour 40 minutes being cut down to 1 hour). It was all about the beautiful and thriving music industry in Cambodia prior to 17 April 1975 and about the tragic loss of 90% of the musicians afterwards.

The director of DC Cam (who I mentioned in the last post) survived the Khmer Rouge atrocities as a child of 14.  He talked about the fact that people died not only from starvation or torture but because of loneliness and loss of hope.  

When he was very young his mother told him about a dream she had.  In the dream he was lost in the jungle and she couldn't find him even though she screamed for him. Finally she found him lying in a hammock between a cluster of trees.  She told Youk that it meant that even though he was going to suffer one day, he would survive and would do great things one day.  He held onto that message and believes it is the main reason he survived.  He has indeed gone on to do great things.  He is the director of DC Cam which is dedicated to recording and sharing information about what happened.  Prior to that he worked at the United Nations and was appointed by them to head up the team supporting the first elections here following the atrocities.  


We went to City Golf, Phnom Penh on Sunday. It was fantastic, who would have known such a professional place to practice golf existed! 12 of the girls came, none of whom had ever hit a golf ball before. After an hour they were all hitting balls about 50 to 100 yards. Naturals!

Legal Aid of Cambodia

I've been there pretty much every day over the last week. Yesterday we submitted their proposal for funding to carry out a 3 year project to improve child protection systems in Banteay Meanchey province. Really interesting and a fantastic team. Clearly very knowledgeable. I hope hey get the funding!!
I believe Comic Relief is interested in supporting them through EveryChild (a UK registered charity) so that's exciting for them too.

Off to have a cheap manicure and pedicure (before I have to start paying London prices again) and do some final panic buying in the markets...


Wednesday 21 August 2013

Best office I've ever sat in

So many wonderful things have happened over the last few weeks.  Where to begin!!

Top events

I've helped Sohim get an internship with the Cambodian Women's Entrepreneur's Association.

I've helped Nat with accommodation concerns linked with her graduating from Harpswell shortly.  Her company works 30 minutes outside of Phnom Penh and has "dormitories" fo staff (6 beds but 8 to a room with shared communal facilities).

Cambodian Centre for Human Rights came and talked to the Harpswell girls about access to junior level politics.  They discussed real life examples of four women working at commune level.

Documentation Centre for Cambodia -  Roith really wants to get into movie making.  I took her to meet the director of DC Cam. One of the most inspirational men I have ever met.  He has an insanely cool office, all distressed dark wood, well places piles of books with lamps in soft neutral shades and cotton fabrics with the odd piece of modern artwork thrown in.  Here's a picture.  I digress.  We talked to him for an hour or so and Roith is now going to film documentaries with DC Cam.

He talked to us about the process for interviewing survivors of The Khmer Rouge atrocities.  How sensitive you have to be not to cause further damage to people when talking and asking questions.  This book took five years of research and only this week are they finally in a position to be able to meet the women to gain further insight, so fragile is her state of mind.   

The director explained that with enough research and study into just one person's life it is possible to bring about national change for a country.  They hope to establish country wide mental health initiatives to work with the enormous number of people suffering from PTSD and other forms of mental illness.  There are only a handful of people qualified to help, for a population of 14 million people, and where 30 years ago 1 in 4 people were killed and many more abused by the Khmer Rouge.

Boat Party along the riverside was awesome.  We hired the whole thing and danced, ate and played music really loud.  

Kandal Province is where Sodalin and Soklida live.  They came second in the Community Project Awards (see tab on the main page for the blog all the details!).  They are going to fix the toilets in the school so that there is actually somewhere to go. Impossible for girls in particular to study otherwise.  

They are only about to fix the one with three doors on their budget (they've only officially won $150 but it's not enough and I felt so awful when I got there I agreed to give them the extra $50 they need).

If anyone has a spare $1000, they could really do with fixing the second larger toilet (the one with six doors).  The roof is about to collapse and no one uses it. Grotty huh.  I also got stung by TWO hornets while standing next to the far right of the six doors so I have a personal interest in clearing it (killing all hornets in the vicinity) and turning it into a functioning toilet again.

Prey Veng Province is where Rachana comes from.  I went with her last Friday.  Her family welcomed me in and cooked one of the best lunches I have ever eaten.  Here is a picture.  She said she hadn't ever taken another leadership resident to her home and really valued all the time I had spent with her. She's an amazing girl.

Stupid question of the week

Has got to be me asking the street vendor whether one of his bags meets hand luggage requirements.  He had evidently never flown or taken hand luggage and probably never even been to the airport.  Jon would have guessed right, I bought it anyway because it was yellow and reallly cool. Luckily it does actually JUST meet Cathay Pacific restrictions...

I am taking 12 Harpswell girls to the killing fields today.  It's really hard going to see it all, let alone when your family actually died there or in places similar to it.  Please think of us. 

Coming back on Wednesday next week.  It's going to be a real wrench.

Rach xx

Wednesday 14 August 2013

Half the Sky

4th Year Leaving Party

We had a leaving party on Sunday for the fourth years.  They are leaving the dorm in two weeks to start proper jobs!  

One of the problems with having 46 girls in one room is that when one of them starts to cry it sets them all off. Must have been crying for about 2 hours by the time everyone was too tired to carry on and had to go to bed.  

I hadn't appreciated what it means to be really scared when you first arrive from the quiet countryside and thrown into a busy city with difficult studies and lots of chores (like cooking rice, cleaning), particularly when you miss your family.  The other girls in the dorm become your family and help you through everything. It's a special bond, so much more than just being room mates at university.

Half the Sky Movie at the Cambodia Korea Coorperation Centre

We saw this recently. Very inspiring. Not your average bore about women in education, I promise.  Lots of celebrity endorsement with George Clooney and Hilary Clinton.

Satya was working with the Youth Ambassadors Council to organise the event. Well done her!

Highlight of the week

Lou Lou came to stay from Hong Kong!! 

The girls loved her of course.  It also meant I got to do all the things I like doing in Phnom Penh.  

We went for eggs benedict at the Foreign Correspondents Club, shopping for underwear and gifts at Tuol Tom Pong Market, ate slippery noodles on the street, watched Khmer boxing at CTN studios and had a manicure at Daughters NGO.  Love!! 

I've also found an awesome vintage shop. So far I have Raybans and a beautiful shirt which  I used for my court visits with LAC (see below).

DC Cam - A River Changes Course

This Saturday we had The Documentation Centre of Cambodia come to Harpswell to show their latest movie about three families' struggles in the countryside.  

There is a difficulty educating children, not only from a practical perspective (sometimes there isn't a school or a boat to get you to school) but also a a financial one.  If children study they cannot help their parents to earn money for the family.

Lots of land is being sold off to companies for development, there is no running water or electricity.  One girl leaves her mother to work in a garment factory in Phnom Penh where the minimum monthly wage is $62.  The money helps support her family but it is hard work and her mother doesn't cope with all the farming on her own out her daughter.  The daughter ends up coming back to the countryside.  

Legal Aid Cambodia

Doing incredible work to try to give people a fair trial.  

I saw a Supreme Court case today.  There are 9 judges in the final stage of the appeal.  The man had been in prison for 13 years and was only today hearing the outcome of his appeal to the Supreme Court.  His lawyer was on a mobile phone during trial.

Children are tried in adult courts, often without a guardian or legal representation.  They are kept in adult prisons.  LAC is doing amazing work with Every Child to secure rights for children in Cambodia.
With 600 practicing lawyers in Cambodia, only 200 go to court and only 75 provide legal aid. Not many lawyers for a population of 14 million. They desperately need support.

Cycling in the countryside

We had lots of fun cycling through the dusty dirt roads in the heat of the day!  13 of us set off for an hour. They enjoyed the fresh air and cool breeze as we passed by little farms and houses on stilts.  

Beautiful mulitcoloured butterflies kept crossing our path and we stopped every so often to buy coloured liquid in little plastic bags with straws from the roadside sellers. 

Jobs and stuff

Having spent two grueling hours with Nat going over interview questions and techniques she got an amazing job at an electronics company called Minebea.  She is one of 10 senior management team looking after 1000 employees. Amazing.

Mala has prepared an excellent CV for a part time job at Acleda Bank PLC and Reaksmey is going for a nursing job at Rattanak Hospital.  It's exciting watching their lives take new directions.

Here's a breakdown of what I did with some of the other girls in the last week.  Didn't realise how much I did until I wrote it all down!!!

Sohim - 1 hour looking for jobs with her on the internet
Sopheap - 1 hour reviewing her 4 page paper submission to DK Kim (for a scholarship)
Siekmouy - 1 hour mentoring about internship opportunities
Kimleang Eng - 1 hour reviewing her application to DK Kim
Panha - 1 hour - mentoring re her position at her school and future goals
Panha - 2 hours - attending her work place at an international school to watch and support her teach and meet her colleagues 
Reaksmey - 1 hour mentoring re nursing jobs
Choronay - Attending church with her and talking afterwards
Sokeang - Her dissertation, direction, possible subjects
Mala - 1 hour on her CV and cover letter to Acleda Bank PLc
Nat - 1 hour pre second interview preparation
Vouchthou - 1 hour pre interview preparation at a softline testing company
Vatey - 2 hours attending meeting of CCHR to discuss election and media strategy
Dinna - 1 hour dilemma re exam overlapping with Burma trip. Talking through alternative options
Rachana - 1 hour dilemma about one poor result in exams and application for DK Kim
Sampours - 3 hours of grammar exercises
Vechou - 2 hours of grammar exercises

It's almost over

I can't believe it, the time has gone by so quick. Two more weeks and so many things packed in for the next few days.  I am going to miss these girls so so so much.  It's definitely not over.  At the very least I'm planning to come back and bring Jon for a couple of weeks next summer...and Juliet (the other leadership resident at BT dorm might do the same!)


Thursday 1 August 2013

Vatey and Roith

Work placements

Vatey and Roith have interviews for jobs in research with General Electric tomorrow. Fingers crossed for them. We're doing preparation tonight.

Chou starts at Cambodia Cares tomorrow for her 3 month work placement.

Some of Sodalin's pharmacy exams have been postponed while there is uncertainty about the political situation.  There are still road blocks and talk of protests. Other than that it's still pretty quiet in the dormitory.  


I have implemented a new recycling scheme at the dormitory.  There are now four large blue rice sacks on each floor next to the bin.  All the girls now recycle plastic, cans and paper.  

I'm not normally that into recycling but it does have several advantages here.  Not only is it good for the environment but it costs less in refuse collection (there is no countrywide rubbish collection system - you have to pay for trucks to come and take it away).  In addition, those in the dorm that don't have much financial support can take the filled rice sacks to the local HI (which means recycling not a reference to HIV as I first thought!?).


The books have also arrived (some via Hong Kong and others via Singapore). I've spent this morning wrapping each one in ribbon with a personal note.  Thank you to everyone who contributed.  It makes an enormous difference.  Most of the girls don't have any books and those that they do have are copies of books not the original (which often means it is of very poor quality).


Is it weird that Silent Dude hasn't re-appeared at our unofficial morning running club since giving him his new trainers? Options I can think of are: 

(1) the trainers helped so much he is now on a Forest Gump type mission across Cambodia; (2) he got mugged on the way home; or 
(3) I need to start wearing my glasses to running....

Here's a picture of his trainers (in case you spot him).

Community Projects

Are flooding in.  Winner and details of the various bids to be announced in the next week.

Cambodia Daily

Tonight we are talking about the calls for an independent investigation into voting irregularities in the elections. 

Some sources say that voter names appeared twice, that people were turning up to vote only to find that someone had already voted under their name and that some people were mistakenly taken off the voter list. 

It's also party night tonight...there will be cake.  Whoop!  This is a picture of Chou, Sampours, Koeurn and Thiery making jelly for the last party.

Tuesday 30 July 2013

Khmer Boxing

The national election happened on Sunday and Hun Sen's ruling CPP party has remained in power.  There are widespread protests due to take place tomorrow. Think of us...

There is a lot of information on The Cambodia Daily newspaper website if you want to know more:

The Cambodia Daily

The dorm was pretty quiet.  The vast majority of the girls went home for the weekend to vote (the dormitory shut and there was limited security available).  Some were observers at voting stations.

They have a black finger from the indelible ink, the evidence that they have voted.  None of them want it to wash off.  For most, this is the first time they have been able to (try to) exercise the right to say who runs the country.  

I took the opportunity to visit Hong Kong to see my sister and her husband.  It was glorious playing golf, eating afternoon tea and sunbathing at the beach, a real break but also quite difficult to get your head around. 

Mala and Sampours

I got back this morning and the girls are all raring to go again!  It's 930pm and I've just finished a session with Sampours on her pronunciation and a session with Mala on her CV and cover letter.  

Mala is applying for a voluntary work experience type position in Acleda Bank.  

She was initially looking at a cleaning role at the bank and not in the customer service team on the basis that she did not have anything to wear and was nervous that her skin was too dark.  In spite of the fact that she's studying accounting at the university of management and has been awarded the scholarship to live at Harpswell.  

With a little encouragement she's now going for a customer service role which is fantastic! She's so sweet.  We've spent some time looking at the application form and requirements in terms of CV and cover letter so we will do some more work on it this week. 

Cooking classes

I've started cooking classes with the girls on an adhoc basis.  They are going nuts for it.  

So far we've made two lots of smoked salmon blinis, spaghetti carbonara (Steve Osborne Style), pancakes (they hate lemon and sugar and much prefer golden syrup), marshmallow rice crispy squares (I know. Not really cooking. More mixing), a rocket and parmesan salad, spaghetti amatriciana and we are due to have a go at bruschetta this week.

Culture Show

The Culture Show last Sunday was great. 

This is a video of one part with the girls performing a traditional Khmer fashion show...

Activities last week included...

...a group dance class at the Olympic Stadium for $.25 each. Beats gym membership in London.

...a cinema trip. This time to see Man of Steel.  Very good if you haven't been. It's the final trip. Everyone has had the chance to go once.

...Juliet and I took a bike ride into the countryside to see what we could find. Its really cheap and easy to do. Might be a good group activity, save that we have to avoid the land mines.

...a trip to watch live Khmer Boxing at CTN Studios. It's pretty rough, but free. Mostly the guys fighting are helped out by two mates who sponge them down with water mid fight and offer support and physio.  

You're right in there and we had to move a bit further back to avoid the blood.  Salin actually knew one of the boys from her province so we even got to say hello. So cool. The guys  just hop on their moto afterwards and carry on with life as usual.  No idea how they do it.

University Tour

Last week, Koeurn and Sampours kindly offered to show me and a group of about 20 children from an NGO called CCC around the campus of The Royal University of Phnom Penh.  

The children come from families where either one or both parents suffer from drug abuse, prostitution and/or are in prison.  It was a great experience for the children, they saw the library and heard about what life is like to study. One 13 year old boy tole me he wanted to be the president one day.  I told him to go for it.

It was great for Koeurn and Sampours to build experience presenting information. The kids loved them, of course.

This is Sodalin, Rachana, Cheata, Kimleang,  Vouththou, Soriya, Roith and Reaksa enjoying the culture show. 


Thursday 18 July 2013

Hot Like Pepper - Sokun Kanha

Culture Show

We are having a culture show on Sunday!!!  

Lots of the girls from both dorms are performing (with support from the wonderful Leadership Residents).  We even have MCs and sound girls.  

The current line up consists of a traditional Khmer story, sketch from The Wizzard of Oz, apsara dancing, Khmer songs, a fashion show, tap dancing and a Bollywood dance. 

I'm singing a Khmer song called Hot Like Pepper by Sokun Kanha.  I'm terrible!!

Rakesmay is going to do my hair like this....

It's going to be awesome. Can't wait.


Hotting up here generally ahead of the general election on 28 July 2013. 

There was a prayer gathering yesterday outside the Royal Palace for peaceful elections.  You get t-shirts for pretty much everything in Cambodia. The peaceful protest t-shirts are a tasteful shade of green.

A few of the girls are helping with the process either as independent advisors or monitors.  

Cambodia Daily

Tonight is Siekmouy's turn to lead the Cambodia Daily class. 

We are talking about a recent employment fair organised by Japan to recruit Cambodians for Japanese companies in Phnom Penh.   She is going to present her evidence and information to the group via Powerpoint (for the first time) so that's fantastic.

Fun stuff

Off to see Despicable Me 2 at Legend Cinema shortly and we have more swimming on Sunday morning (I take five at a time with priority to those who haven't been with me before - it's very popular and good for them - lots can't actually swim so it's really lovely for them to have a go).

Running with me at 6am is proving very popular.  There's the same crowd every morning:

1 a guy with a MASSIVE dog (Dog Guy)
2 a guy with learning disabilities, no speech and limited movement who wears flip flops to exercise (Silent Guy)
3 a group of ladies who always ask how old I am and then giggle (Ladies Group)
4 Cool dudes doing "training" but mostly just posturing (The Dudes)

Jon and I bought Silent Guy trainers and socks yesterday and the girls and I gave them to him this morning.  He had the widest most genuine smile you've ever seen, there were lots of thumbs up!! It's amazing how much you can communicate with only limited Khmer (me) and not being able to speak (him).

How could I forget the monkeys!!! Here they are. Adorable. No mummy I didn't touch them...honest.

Still checking Daily Mail showbiz daily for any signs of the Kate and Wills Royal birth.  When is it going to happen!!?

Leadership Update

Vechou is applying for a Chevening Scholarship to study economics in London.

Vatey is applying for an internship with General Electric in Phnom Penh.

Panha has secured a teaching job (maths and English) which she is doing in addition to her university studies.

Pang has secured a part time job with a medical equipment/pharmacy company to support her studies.

We've organised for DC Cam (documentation centre of Cambodia) to come and show the Harpswell girls its brand new film called A River Changes Course. It analyzes economic development and globalization by following the lives of Cambodians in 3 different locations.  There is a young family in Ratanakiri, a Cham Muslim family in a floating village on the Tonle Sap, and a young girl who moves from her province to Phnom Penh to find work. 

Other than that I've got CVs, scholarship applications and interview preparation sessions coming out of my ears.  They're all working really hard. Post interview downloading is proving important too.

Learning curve

Only a couple of things in the last few days...

The vast majority of the students don't have bank accounts.  Their parents literally put $30 on a moto or with a relative coming to Phnom Penh who physically hands them their monthly allowance.  Jon should set up Metro Bank here...

Girls get a 50% reduction on university fees to encourage them to study.  Thiery is one of TWO girls on her engineering course.

There is a massive amount of bribery that goes on during High School.  All over Cambodia.  Almost all the girls have had to pay teachers a bribe at some point (one girl's teacher asked the entire class to pay up in order to pass).  

I had dinner with this lovely Christian family on Saturday evening.  The parents are Sokha and Lee Nam Soon.   Mum, Jon and me are going to sponsor the children's school education for this year.  It's a christian school which they hope will be less open to bribery and focus more on education. 

Bye for now.  

PS If you haven't already done so, you can sign up for email updates as and when I do a new post. Just put in your email address in the box on the right hand side of the Home page.

I'm updating every Thursday (not for any particular reason.  Just thought it might make the end of your busy weeks more enjoyable...).

Thursday 11 July 2013

New recruits and Spring News from Thailand

Looking for New Recruits in Kampot Province

Last week I joined Varony (Senior Manager at Harpswell), Rachana and Om Malis on the final stage of a 10 day trip across the cambodian countryside to interview 136 potential new Harpswell students.

It is a difficult job. There are only 19 places. Here are some pictures of the schools the students come from.  The students have a 15 minute interview and a 15 minute written test. Varony is now shortlisting.

Highlights this week:

1 Finding Wimbledon on the Star Sports Channel in the dorm. I stayed awake all night watching Murray.

2 The Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC).  Fascinating trials of senior Khmer Rouge officials.  Added bonus is that the Defence Counsel for one of those being prosecuted looks very much like Mr Darcy in the only true adaptation of Pride and Prejudice (produced by the BBC with Colin Firth of course).  Makes me want to sit there all day!

3 Taking the girls to see Phnom Penh Crown FC play its latest fixture at the Olympic Stadium.  Great crowd, roasted corn and pretty average football but thoroughly enjoyable.

4 The girls are amazing at hair braiding. Vechou needed a volunteer so I offered of course. She was amazing!  Photo below.

5  Running with Bopha. I went again this morning. We leave by 6am while its still cool and do laps of the road leading up to a beautiful Pagoda.

Por is FAMOUS!

Following on from Por's work with BBC Media Action to build a community hall in her province, another film crew have been in touch.  This time it was Spring News from Thailand and they came to the dorm!

Por is doing an incredible job to promote her project and share news about the life of people in her village. I even got interviewed. Watch this space. Eek.

Dinna in Burma

Dinna leaves at the end of the month for an exchange programme with Burmese, Thai and Cambodian students which aims to promote joint working between the three nations.  There are currently a number of border disputes between various parts of these countries and this project aims to alleviate some of the tension. It's a 2 DAY bus ride to Burma. Flights are too expensive.

Reaksa and Soriya in Japan

Reaksa and Soriya are waiting to see if they have secured a place on another exchange programme this time to Japan.  

Dormitory Leadership Teams

Busy week here in the dormitory. This was a meeting to vote for the new team leaders for each dormitory (which includes an overall head, a head of accounting and head of discipline).  All good experience.

 Rach x

Monday 1 July 2013

Sopanhchakpor and BBC Media Action

Highlights this week

Lychee taste amazing.  No one knows what an avocado is.

There are hot water showers at the swimming pool.

Numkong doughnuts (with melted palm sugar on top and sesame seeds) are still amazing.

Gym Bar shows Wimbledon AND the Lions Test Matches.

You can get an awesome manicure 5 minutes down the road for 5000 rial ($1.25).

UK Trade and Investment I met with Jeffrey Lamb this week, head of UKTI to talk about ways in which he can help the students at Harpswell.

Free books - I bought some story books in Khmer and English and gave them to the little street children. Puss in Boots was the most popular!

Just for Fun

I have been trying to work out what cheap activities we can do next.  So many of them never leave the dorm simply because they don't have the money.

This weekend we went to the Plae Pakaa Theatre produced by The Cambodian Living Arts.  Friday night was the show Mak Therng (a Khmer story about a man and his wife who is stolen by the prince and his journey to win her back).  Saturday was The Passage of Life, a journey through a typical Khmer life and the way in which each life event is celebrated, from birth, coming of age, marriage and death. They loved it!

Next Saturday we are off to see Phnom Penh Crown FC play their next match at the Olympic Stadium.

Nat and Roith are looking into a Khmer Kick Boxing Match. SOOO excited.

Community Project Competition

I have asked the girls to come up with a project to win $200 and help their community (either in the provinces or Phnom Penh).  

It can relate to anything they want and four teams have so far talked to me about their proposals. They range from helping rural villagers set up businesses to grow produce, buying books and helping an orphanage.

Deadline is 31 July.

Update from the girls:

Bopha is off to Vietnam on a scholarship for one month from 10 July .  She will be continuing her study into the reasons why there is a lack of women studying mathematics at universities in Cambodia and Vietnam.

Por won $2,500 in a national competition for her project to build a youth centre in her village.  It is now build and BBC Media Action filmed it.  Link to it below and some pictures: 

Click here for information on Por's project
Vechou is doing really well with her English classes (we have two per week).  Pronunciation is progressing.  She is about to start an internship with Cambodia Cares.

Salin, Sampours, Keourn, Mala, Sereraith and Siekmouy have a class with me between 6 -7pm Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday on listening, reading and writing skills.

Sodalin in a total Jane Austen convert.  She has read Pride and Prejudice and watched "Becoming Jane".  During our weekly session we watch clips from Persuasion and translate it. She is really getting the hang of reading between the lines.

We went swimming again this week and taught Sopheap how to swim and Sohim how to improve breaststroke technique! They did really well.

Masters in Economics at UCL or other London University 

Vechou is in her third year (with one more year to go until she finishes her undergrad degree in Economics).  Her dream is to study a Masters in Economic Policy in a London university.  Does anyone know how she could get a scholarship?? 

I know how to sort out her accommodation (there is a fantastic Housing Association in the UK called Zebra Housing Association which provides low cost housing for foreign students) and I may sponsor her myself in terms of living costs...but I need to get her on a course first!

She has a mum and dad in the provinces but they are quite old and her brother died a few years ago.  

She was selected for an interview with Harpswell by the director of her high school and asked to come to his office.  She was really scared because people only go to him when they are in trouble!  She was bright enough to be selected from a large number of applicants and joined Harpswell three years ago.  She wants to be able to help Cambodian businesses operate and run effectively to promote economic growth in Cambodia.  

She is very bright but a little shy and not very confident (which I am working on... :)).  She has great aspirations for Cambodia and a year in London would transform her life.  It would be a platform for her to really change the country when she came back. I would love to be able to surprise her with an offer of a place before I go.

There are now lots more photos in the Gallery and videos on the blog. Take a look!

Bye for now.  Enjoy WImbledon.

Rach x