Be the Change Network

aka "Kari's Blog"

Archive for December, 2006

So Many Students, So Little Space

December 19, 2006 By: Kari Category: General No Comments →

jimjillteachers.jpgOne of the benefits of being a Friend of the Grady Grossman School is the opportunity to visit a remote village in the Cardamom Mountains and be entertained as an honored guest by the teachers and local community. Jill Hunter and Jim Mitchell of Lander, Wyoming, just returned from a visit with our friends in Charuk Tiek.

kidsinwindow.jpgJill reports that the school is becoming overcrowded, there are at times 80 students in a class and more leaning in the windows. Today, the school serves 485 students in the primary grades 1-6, ranging in age from 6-16 years old. A recent survey revealed that there are actually 1,370 school age children residing in the five surrounding villages. So, with an overflowing school, we are educating less than half the children. In response, the teachers have requested another school building and they are willing to sacrifice the food stipend and support we send them to help us reach this goal. Bless their generous hearts.

crowdofkids.jpgIt has been amazing to watch the fabric of a tattered society rebuild. Two years ago, the teachers often didn’t show up to work. Now they have become fiercely dedicated to their students and to the progress of education by the small amount of support we provide. The English teacher, Din Narith, has even found time to squeeze in an extra English class for the 35 students now attending secondary school via the bicycles we provide. He has asked to stay on at our school for a third year and we will honor his request by donating his salary to his employer, American Assitance for Cambodia.

Din Narith also asked Jill about the Internet Computer Lab we plan to install. He is very excited to have this new teaching tool and all the access to communication and information it will provide. But mostly he just wants to be able to teach more kids. Currently, because of the limitations of only one computer, he must pick only the 40 top students to study in his class. The rest are left to lean in the windows.

kidsatcomputer.jpgMore computers will mean more space for more students, and an Internet connection will provide access to communication with the outside world, bringing tele-medicine, e-commerce and e-learning to the village. But there is a price to pay for this progress. An internet computer lab will draw even more students to a school that has no room for them. So which comes first the new building or the computers?

With help from our Friends and book sales from Bones That Float, A Story of Adopting Cambodia, hopefully, we can do both.

A Forest Community in Trouble

December 11, 2006 By: Kari Category: General No Comments →

deforestatio1.jpgFrom our School Director, Nhim So Bun:

“As a representative of the teachers and villagers in the Chrauk Tiek community would like to express deeply thanks to Kari and George that always think of us and I know that your goal want to help the Cambodian children to obtain the knowledge and eliminate the poverty, this goal is like Ministry of the Education that is trying to educate the students and find the way to eliminate the illiterate. But unfortunately the natural resource in Aural area is unable to protect because of the uneducated people whose have never received the education before. They cut down the trees to sell for exchanging rice and some for money. They don’t think about the future consequence for the children.

That is why Ministry of Education is struggling to educate the new generation to protect the environment and the natural resource, but now the forest is destroyed almost gone. Before they just cut down the best timber for the houses and for the furniture and this year they cut all kind of the trees even though they are saplings for the charcoal and wood sticks for cooking everyday. Each day they are destroying thousand trees and hunting the wild animals without any authority stops them in this action. In addition, the forest community is incapable to stop them to destroy the forest at all. We are all sorry that the former community chief, Ban Vanna was dismissed in the last July, 2006. We are incapable to solve this above problem. We are only the teachers providing knowledge to the students. So we hope that you understand about this trouble. We would like to suggest you to continue to support your school and the forest community in this area.”

Friends, what is the point in educating 485 students if they are just going to face drought and famine because of environmental destruction? On the day I received this message, I was also contacted by a friend from Brazil, Andre Cavalhaes Ph.D, who is a rainforest biologist. As I told Andre our troubles, he started to explain to me the processes of agro-forestry and perma-culture used in Brazil to grow food and forest products that restore the forest at the same time. The concept is so beautiful, we decided to form a partnership dubbed Abundant Forest Enterprizes with a mission to create economic growth through integrated, diverse, productive, healthy and sustainable land-use systems while maintaining the cultural integrity of local people. Our school will host the pilot project.

Andre will accompany me to Cambodia in January, where we will study the problem, network with other conservation organizations and develop a strategy with the teachers, monks, and community leaders in Chrauk Tiek to find a solution to the intertwined cycles of poverty and environmental destruction. You’ll be able to follow the story as it unfolds on this blog. Come back often!

Hello GGS Friends!

December 05, 2006 By: Kari Category: General 1 Comment →

movie1.jpgWelcome Friends to the new weblog for the Grady Grossman School in Cambodia. Our new website just went live today, so cruise around and see how our program has grown. Check back to the weblog often as we bring you updates from the school teachers via our newly installed radio phone. Here you can see directly where funds are spent and meet the people whose lives we are changing. We’ll update you on the successes of our fundraising efforts and you’ll experience both the rewards and frustrations of trying to make a difference in a country rife with poverty and problems.

With this interface we are building a digital bridge across the ocean because it is the relationship between our first world community and Chrauk Tiek village that gives the people living there hope. Someone is watching. Someone out there cares. Thus, it is possible for the teachers and parents of our students to believe in a better tomorrow and to continue to strive to rebuild their community.