This morning, we got up early and headed to the local gym - Angkor muscle gym - for a workout before the heat of the day! You can't go wrong at this place - $1 casual session for foreigners. Old school gym (Adrian loves it!) with heaps of equipment and you work out with the locals. We bumped into Jimmy there and you can tell how much of a community man he is, he ALWAYS sees someone there who knows him! Haha! Good, sweaty start to the day. On the way back to our airbnb (Melody Villa by the way, great!!!) we stopped at the local market to see if they had spinach for us to whip up a green smoothie. We found it immediately and scored 5 bunches for just over $1! We gave some to Jimmy's mum as we didn't have enough fridge space for that much spinach lol.
After breakfast, we headed to a beautiful pagoda to have a blessing from the monks, as today is considered like a holiday in Cambodia. There are only a few Buddhist days per year, and you see many families heading to their local pagodas to visit monks for special blessing ceremonies and to hear them chanting. We visited to lovely monks who we also visited on our last trip here, on new years eve 2016. They explained to us that from 6pm tonight, they will chant and pray all night until the early hours of the morning. Their dedication to buddhism is amazing. They blessed us and our families and our ancestors. They also blessed any sacred belongings of ours - I put my wedding & engagement rings down for blessing, Jimmy his ornaments from his personal shrine at home, and Marika placed a small gemstone buddha and her jewellery. We then proceeded to the main dining hall area of the pagoda and watched the monks chant before feasting on a lunch prepared by the local pagoda women. The chief monk sat on his own and was eating his rice by rolling it into small balls and blessing them before he ate them! Jimmy explained that this is how monks have done for many years, back from the ancient times. They truly keep tradition alive.
Tonight we are all going on a short adventure!!! Adrian & I, along with Jimmy, the local mechanic and Jimmy's close friend Brus Lee are jumping on a midnight bus to Phnom Penh, Cambodia's capital, to search for our truck that will be the skeleton of the new mobile school!!! Also joining us will be Marika, who is heading to Phnom Penh for the next leg of her trip. We plan to spend the day in Phnom Penh and head back in the afternoon/evening tomorrow. So our next post will probably not be until Friday as I am anticipating we will be getting back into SR quite late tomorrow and will be exhausted!!! Below you can see the local mechanic (third from the right) and Brus (next to Adrian). Fingers crossed our next post includes photos of us successfully purchasing a truck!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Until Friday - Christine X
Today we met Jimmy & Marika early in the morning and started our journey out to Banteay Oumpel Village - the first village that is planned to be offered free English classes when the mobile school is set up! On our way we stopped off at a local market to gather some food for the people of the village aswell as have a coffee. We sat in a roadside shack and shared a table with some incredibly lovely and mesmerising local men.
The gentleman in the left image above, is named Long doum. He is 83 years old, and to survive day-to-day, he collects plastic and aluminium off the streets and resells it to a recycling factory. The man on the right had an infectious laugh and a warm smile...and was wearing traditional khmer clothing - which looked super comfy and cool in the hot weather. These lovely locals let us join them for coffee and you could see they thrived off being able to tell us the stories of their past.
We then continued on to Banteay Oumpel Village. A good 2hr drive from Siem Reap on motorbike. We met a local man on the roadside who took us into the village by ..... to be honest I have no idea what it was called. A tiny tractor with a trailer??? Anyway, we were taken into the village, through flood waters on this trailer and were greeted by the village people.
A talented lady in the village made everyone a delicious lunch which we all shared together under a giant shady mango tree. The people of the village live off the rice that they harvest themselves....and you could taste how fresh it was! Absolutely amazing. These people cannot speak a word of English... yet we were all able to communicate through gestures and with Jimmy translating for us. In a photo above, you can see the elders of the village gathering together to discuss where the classes will be held in this village. Because of the poor state of the road leading into this village - the mobile school truck will not be able to make it all the way in. The older children will be able to walk or bicycle their way out to the main road where the local primary school is to join the mobile school classes when they begin, yet we needed a solution so that the younger children in the village can also get taught. Together with the village people, we made plans to build a small shack to act as a small lesson area within the village. The people of the village want to help build it, and we would fund the materials. We are looking at approx $300-400 USD to complete this. It wasn't part of the original plan but sometimes projects take a different route once started. We think this will be the way to go for this village, and will work well. The 3 local men in one of the above images had plenty of knowledge of local materials to use for building the shack aswell as prices. We also befriended the local pig who is super friendly! She loves Adrian and wags her little curly tail when he pats her. There was also some brand new baby puppies in the village which were incredibly cute, yet we stayed a fair distance as mum was very protective of them.
We plan to go ahead with the building of the village classroom once we have set up the mobile school - so likely towards the end of the month!!!
Stay tuned, the next blog post will be about the vehicle searching journey we have ahead.
After arriving in Cambodia last night following a 3hr flight delay in Kuala Lumpur (cheers Air Asia!) we were exhausted!!! Jimmy picked us up from Siem Reap airport with a van to accomodate the 50+ kg of chaibles we brought with us for the mobile school!!! We then had a quick dinner with Jimmy and also our lovely supporter Marika who happened to be in Cambodia at the same time as us and who generously brought over some chaibles also!! She arrived on Saturday, successfully bringing over the first package of chaibles :)
Today we spent some time in the morning checking out the local market to fill our fridge with delicious local fruits and vegetables. We dripped with sweat through the humid market stalls and went home with a decent spread. It's so nice being able to choose from so many tropical fruits!!!!
Following our market trip we met up with Jimmy to begin discussions for our plan to purchase the mobile school vehicle. It was decided that we are going to travel to Phnom Penh with a local mechanic in our company to choose from a wider variety of options and hopefully good prices too. The truck selection here in Siem Reap is somewhat limited, we were told. We met up with the recommended mechanic at a local street stand and made plans to travel together to Phnom Penh this wednesday night.
Then, after running some errands around town such as getting a local sim card, exchanging money, etc we headed to Jimmy's Village School (still currently located at his mum's house until the house sells) to reunite with the students. They are such a happy, incredibly amazing bunch. One young boy Chimminh - inspired us dearly when he spoke of his dream to be a clothes designer in the future, and that in his recent spare time he purchased some second hand clothing from a local market and made a bag! Unbelievable! He also spoke of wanting to design things that used the plastic waste that is unfortunately so prevalent here in Cambodia - showing us his knowledge and care for the environment. What a legend.
We topped the night off with a delicious dinner of local cuisine with another familiar face - the lovely Michelle from Miko Massage Therapy (Melbourne) who has been supporting HKC for quite some time! Michelle coincidently happened to be travelling through Siem Reap and we were able to catch her for a quick JVS school visit and a meal before she heads to Battambang tomorrow. Marika also joined us for dinner, making for a lovely evening!!!
Starting TODAY - we will be aiming to (emphasis on aiming!!) blog daily on our implementation process of our Drive Cambodia's Future project! Christine & Adrian (your blog authors!) head to Melbourne International Airport tonight to jetset to Siem Reap, Cambodia and reunite with our best friend and founder of Jimmy's Village School - Jimmy Chan.
We hope you jump on board and stay in touch by reading our posts throughout our journey! We will be posting many photos and videos in order for you to feel like you are on this adventure with us!
Our crowdfunding campaign will remain LIVE throughout our 1 month stay in Cambodia, as we still need further financial support to achieve the project to it's full potential!!!
Jump on board peeps! Next stop: Siem Reap.
Christine & Adrian X
Visit our campaign page to find out how YOU can help us make this project some to life!!!!!
Following our founder Christine & husband Adrian's recent travels to Siem Reap over Christmas/New Year, they have come home after working closely with Jimmy on some new, large and exciting plans for 2017!!!! To find out more....stay in the loop! Make sure you're following us on Facebook and Instagram to hear our biggest announcement yet!!!!!! Coming to you in March 2017.......
A blossoming Melbourne business, Nude Dudes Candles, have been supporting Happy Kids Cambodia since April 2016 by donating 10% of their sales profits for a 3 month period, and contributing to our fundraising events with candle donations. These dudes, Chris & Ryan and dudette Carly have grown an invested interest and passion for our cause, and blew us away by flying to Cambodia this month to visit Jimmy's Village School for themselves!!! They spent a very special few days with the incredible students and our main man Jimmy, and taught a wonderful candle class to the children. Even a number of Nude Dudes t-shirts were gifted to the kids! Our charity is so incredibly grateful for the support from these fabulous people who are committed to changing the world - one candle at a time. They certainly have greatly contributed to enriching the lives of these beautiful kids.
Jimmy's Village School is full to the absolute brim. Jimmy is being approached on a daily basis by local children who wish to register at the school yet there is simply not enough space left! Classes are spilling into the family home and even down the side of the house.
Despite these tight and difficult conditions, Jimmy has 3 students who have stepped it up and have taken on assistant teaching roles in JVS. Chiminh, Sinuer & Tharath (also known as Harry Potter!!) are teaching basic English vocabulary to the kindergarten class at Jimmy's Village School. These 3 students belong to the more advanced level class in JVS yet they attend an hour early every evening to assist Jimmy by teaching the kindergarten level students whilst Jimmy teaches the elementary level in the front area. These students have proven to be admirable leaders within JVS and are a credit to Jimmy's teaching and mentoring skills.
See images below of these wonderful students and the current class conditions. We need donations more than ever to raise enough funds to build a new, larger school for these students!