Friday, December 14, 2012

Round Square 2012 Student Team - Phnom Penh Highlights and Beginning Construction

The team's first few days in Cambodia as they visit many of Phnom Penh's cultural highlights including Choeung Ek Killing Fields, the Genocide Museum, People Improvement Centre's school and orphanage near the garbage dump, Banyan Learning Tree School, Wat Phnom and a special lunch enjoyed at Friends restaurant which trains Phnom Penh Street youth in the service industry. From here we go to Takeo to start building a Family Care Centre in rural Takeo province. The student team is achieving amazing progress with all columns up by the end of day two of the construction project. 
Day Two - foundation laid and many columns up!


RSIS Students visit Wat Phnom in Phnom Penh
Dancing with Khmer Children at PIO School
At Friends Restaurant - which train Phnom Penh Street Youth
Guided Tour of Camp S-21 Genocide Museum
Posing with Genocide Survivor at Camp S-21 in Phnom Penh

 Many Thanks to Free the Bears ( for our fantastic VIP tour of their Asian Bear rescue centre located at Tamao Wildlife Sanctuary and Rescue Centre

This  A Mine Free World Foundation ( project is funded and built by Round Square

At the end of week one - Construction of the Banyan Learning Tree Family Care Centre is way ahead of schedule, with walls up and rendering in progress.

Building the columns

Thursday, December 6, 2012

21 International Students From Round Square Arriving in Cambodia to Build!

The excitement has begun as 21 students from around the world arrive in Cambodia on a Round Square International Service trip.

Phnom Penh airport is seeing the arrival of students from the following countries: United Kingdom, Australia, Peru, Canada, South Africa, India Kenya and Germany!         

The students will undertake the construction of a Family Care/Women's Centre in the rural village of Prokeab in Takeo province. This centre will be a valuable resource for the community providing health care education for the rural women, a weaving course, and eventually a sewing program that will result in local women being able to operate their own village-level seamstress shop. A secondary project of the construction of a school playground will also be undertaken by the students.

The students are led under the guidance of leaders Sonia Christian from South Africa and Andrew O'Connell of Australia.   

The student's 22-day service trip will also include several trips to visit the cultural highlights of the country, including the Royal Palace, Toul Sleng and Choeung Ek Killing Fields in Phnom Penh, the famed temples of Angkor Wat in Siem Reap and a special Christmas break on the beaches of Sihanoukville.

Round Square Leader Sonia Christian with 3 arriving Students at Phnom Penh Airport

Last December, a group of Round Square students constructed a small free-education school at the Prokeab Takeo site which they named 'Brighter Beginnings' School. The school now sees over 100 children attending daily. A library building is also on the site. Outreach programs for landmine-affected families are also conducted through the school at Prokeab.

A Mine Free World Foundation would like to extend it's thanks to the students, leaders and all at Round Square for their support towards funding and building these valuable resources for the rural people and children in Takeo.

Keep posted to this blogsite in the ensuing days to watch the progress of construction and the meaningful cultural experiences the students encounter here in Cambodia.
Round Square Student Team 2011 and their 'Brighter Beginnings' School

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Tuk Tuk for the Battambang Rotary Women's Centre in Cambodia

I must say that I usually am dealing with bicycle wheels, but it has been quite rewarding for Pauline and I to have been involved in a couple of bigger sets of wheels for quite worthy causes!

A couple of weeks ago, (last posting), a large tuk tuk was purchased for transporting village children to our Banyan Learning Tree School located on the outskirts of Phnom Penh.

The current tuk tuk purchase has me equally excited as it provides valuable transportation for women housed at the Battambang Rotary Club Women's Centre!
Past President Nouv Saroeun of the Battambang Rotary Club and Lisa McCoy of the Rotary Club of Gravenhurst

Be sure to watch video at:

From a life of poverty with no chance for future support for her family...
... to a future with education on skill-building capacity..Thyda will be able to provide a sustanabe income for her landmine-survivor father and family.

It was in November, 2011, that the Toronto Rotary Club's 'Sweat Equity' team visited the nearly constructed Battambang Rotary Club's Women's Centre in Cambodia. The Centre officially opened in January 2012 and provides housing, meals and vocational training to impoverished women and women from landmine-affected families. Thanks to the Rotary Clubs of Cobourg and Whitby-Sunrise, District 7070, Ontario, Canada, the centre now can provide transportation for the women - mainly for the purpose of attending their vocational training at their placements in Battambang city center. This new $2,000 tuk tuk was purchased two days ago and can transport up to ten women at a time. The Battambang Women's Centre can accommodate up to 50 women and is seeking sponsorship so more women can benefit from the vocational training and job placement it provides for women. Tuk Tuk project conducted by
You can sponsor a woman from a landmine-affected family at the Battambang Rotary Women's Centre for $1,300.00. Your recipient is provided with a clean room and bathrooms, meals, health care, job placement, transportation and even child care. The woman is provided with one-on-one apprenticeship training at a beauty or Seamstress business in a professional shop for 9 months.As well as sewing skills, the women are taught business skills - marketing and customer service - very important to conduct your own business in the future!
 Once she is completed her course, she can be placed in a shop in Battambang or be provided with all the supplies needed to  start her own business in her village.

The Women's Centre holds up to 50 women - give a rural woman an opportunity at learning a skill that will benefit her whole family.

To donate, please see; Donors are provided with information and a photo of their sponsored woman and regular updates on their progress.

A Mine Free World Foundation Thida works inside her Placement  Seamstress Shop
Thida's room inside the Women's Centre
Thida (left) works inside the shop

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Schools and Tuk Tuks

Pauline Johns and I have just spent our first few weeks in Cambodia and have been down to Takeo province to visit the Banyan Learning Tree school and library in Prokeab village. 

There, we were busy preparing for a team of 21 international students and 3 leaders that will arrive the beginning of December to build the first of two Family Care Centre buildings. The students are coming through the organization Round Square on an international service project .

Last December, a Round Square student team built the 'Brighter Beginnings' school at the Prokeab site. The school presently has 100 students attending the two daily classes. Before and after classes, students visit the 'Calogero and Luke Puma' Library building, funded by Toronto, Ontario donors. There they read books, enjoy crafts and have a story time. 

Bakot village also has a Round Square funded school- 'Happy Gecko' that was built by their adult leadership training team that spent the month of December in Cambodia. Patti Lee, Barbara Seagram and Bridge players from across Ontario, Canada funded the library building there. Their players have raised funds for all the school teacher's salaries and utilities!

Both the adult and student team visited many of Cambodia's tourist sites, including the famed temples of Angkor Wat and the Royal Palace in Phnom Penh.. After the student team built the school at Prokeab, they enjoyed Christmas on the beaches at Sihanoukville - we'll be doing the same this year!

Along with building the schools, the Round Square teams funded 200 bicycles for needy rural children and sponsored several village-level chicken-rearing businesses.

We are back in Phnom Penh now, where we have spent the past 2 days at the Banyan Learning Tree School here located on the city's outskirts.  It's been pretty exciting there as the school now has children attending who come from nearby rural villages on our newly acquired Tuk Tuk 'School Bus'.
Tuk Tuk 'School Bus'
 There is no opportunity for children to learn English, use a library or receive basic computer training at the remote villages they come from, but here at the school, they can...and it's free. So, of course - there are many children that want to come. One village child tells another village child....

We want to give this opportunity to all these eager village children....we can, but it needs funding...especially for the gasoline. Presently, the teachers are driving the 'school bus' - we REALLY need to hire a driver.

We are also finding that some of these children are coming to school on an empty stomach - in the afternoon! . It would be wonderful to offer them a bowl of rice with meat and vegetables... step at a time :-)
First Day for Eager Village Children
Class of 55 children
Your donation to A Mine Free World Foundation, will help provide the gasoline for our 'bus' and perhaps even the meal-a-day these education-hungry children so need. See to donate online, or by cheque.

All Banyan Learning Tree schools also conduct outreach programs for landmine-affected families. These programs are funded by the Canadian Landmine Foundation and the Rotary Club of Etobicoke, Ontario, Canada.

Jan Gough-Watson teaches English at Banyan Learning Tree in Phnom Penh

Special volunteer, Jan Gough-Watson from Australia/Canada arrived here in Phnom Penh two days ago and has been teaching English classes at our Banyan Learning Tree school free education school located on the outskirts of Phnon Penh. Her cousin, Barbara Seagram from Toronto, Patti Lee and Bridge players from across Ontario, Canada raised the funds to build this school, a library in another province and they provide the funds needed to run all three Banyan Learning Tree Schools. The school was funded through the Canadian Landmine Foundation which also supports many of the outreach programs for landmine-affected families in the area. Banyan Learning Tree Schools in Takeo and here in Phnom Penh provide on-site accommodation for volunteers. Volunteers are welcome for a day, a week...or more! To volunteer contact or see 

In a week, Pauline and I will be off to Battambang to meet with Nouv Saroeun of the Battambang Rotary Club. A Mine Free World Foundation extends a big thanks the Rotary Clubs of Cobourg and Whitby Sunrise for sponsoring a valuable tuk tuk for their Rotary Women's Centre. They'll receive the funding for this when we arrive. We'll also be going into the villages with Saroeun to get some much-needed support for landmine survivors there.

Have a look at the new videos posted on the A Mine Free World Foundation You Tube site: