In 2011, Patti Lee, Barbara Seagram and a group of 50, docked in Phnom Penh. We were armed with clothing, pens, notebooks, rulers, sharpeners, toys, pencils, stickers, and other school supplies. We had heard about an Ontario resident, Lisa McCoy, who had dedicated the last few years to working in Cambodia for several months per year. Working alongside Lisa was a fabulous lady, Australian Pauline Johns. Currently, Pauline is living in Cambodia about 6 months per year and heads up the Cambodian organization ‘Banyan Tree Organization’, which manages all of our projects in Cambodia. Pauline volunteers all of her time and pays for all of her travel and living.
Our group and other friends from the Toronto area donated 40 bicycles to a school outside of Phnom Penh. We went there in a small tuk-tuk along the dusty roads through Phnom Penh and out into the countryside to find that the school was a one-room shack with a cement floor and no desks or chairs. The bikes were given to children, mainly children of landmine victims. It was all very uplifting but Patti and Barbara looked at each other and wondered how long this shack would remain standing.
We inquired how much it would cost to build a permanent school and found that it would cost $24,000.00 We returned to Toronto determined to build a school. We raised $40,000.00 that year, so we also furnished two other schools and built a library at one of the schools. Since then, two more schools have been added; we now have over 600 students in our schools—and we remain committed to sustaining all FIVE schools at a cost of $40,000 CDN per year. This pays for the salaries of the teachers and librarians, all of the supplies for the teachers and students, lease payments, electricity, maintenance etc. You can see that money goes a long way in this country.
Over the years, many outreach programs have been undertaken to help these landmine affected families to become self-sufficient: a bike repair business, chicken farmer training, sewing lessons with a sewing machine, crafts, a technology centre, and a weaving centre.
There are many that do not have a safe, private toilet. The absence of a safe, private toilet leads to serious health issues, as well as sexual abuse of women and girls. Our schools all have toilets, thus ensuring that the girls can attend school even during their menstrual period. Without toilets at the schools the girls would miss many days a month of school and often do not return once this has happened a few times.
Patti and Barbara are excited and optimistic about all of these projects and the fundraisers that we do every year. If you are unable to attend one of our fundraisers, but still wish to make a donation, we would be so grateful. Barbara and Patti are an Agency of a charity in Canada; as well, they have formed an alliance with a charity in the USA. As a result, all Canadian and USA donors can receive tax receipts, valid for their own country.
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To all of you who supported our Cambodian Schools fundraiser on Friday June 2nd. There were many who were unable to attend but generously donated to our cause anyway.
To Lynda Miller who donated hundreds of brand new white tops and track pants in all sizes and to Leanne who brought over this HUGE supply of clothes and books over to the Chan Teap school located in Takeo!
To Mary Miller and Sally Hill and all the local teachers at ACBL who helped sponsor our fundraiser! These funds will pay for a teacher for over 1/2 of a year.
To Enid Roitman, who is always there to help. She makes the Silent Auction table look so fantastic; she greets the people in the morning; and she handles the collection of the Silent Auction payments at the end of the day. We really could not run this function without her!