Friday, December 5, 2008

‘Muskoka School’ Site Visit – Ta Trav Village

This is the day that I’ve been waiting a long time for – my trek to Ta Trav Village and the site of the ‘Muskoka School’ Project! It was quite the trek – only 20km north of Siem Reap, but forty minutes of dusty pot-holed roads in the back of an open pick-up truck in the hot Cambodian sun.

Yet, I was thankful for that ride in the pick-up truck, because that and motorcycle are the only vehicles, other than ox-carts, that can handle those roads. Ben Gooding, from The Trailblazer Foundation (www.thetrailblazerfoundation.org ) picked me up at 9am to tag along with the Khmer workers to Ta Trav village. Sitting in the back of the truck gave me many opportunities to talk with Trailblazer’s Khmer Project Manager Ung Chanrattana. I learned how needy village projects are assessed and prioritized by the village chiefs and the commune. It was wonderful to hear how all these projects not only benefit the daily needs of the villagers; they all bring much-needed work to these impoverished communities.

The Trailblazer Foundation will go into a village and build a school – but they don’t stop there! They also provide pumps with water filtration systems to village families. They test the water regularly, and provide upkeep. Last year’s Trailblazer Sras Village project included a 2-building school, pumps for the village, and a micro-lending program for village families. The same will happen for the Ta Trav villagers.

I had a great morning with the school-children at the existing 4-room school house. I had them counting in English, yelling ‘Hip, Hip Hooray!’ and exchanging big ‘Hi-Fives’ with me. I met the director, teachers and village representatives. I was given a complete tour of the grounds (with school-yard water-buffalo maintaining the field!), and was taken inside the classrooms and was shown the termite-infested beams, which they hope to be able to replace. Termite infestation is a big problem here in Cambodia – another reason why new schools are all being built out of cement and bricks.

Today’s trip reaffirmed to me how needed and worthwhile projects like the ‘Muskoka School’ Project are for these education-hungry children of Cambodia! The ‘Muskoka School’ Project will see a new government certified cement school built for over 478 children in this area. I was excited to hear more about this January’s scheduled ground-breaking. All official documents have been registered. The Cambodian Landmine Museum Relief Fund still needs to raise about $3,000 by ground-breaking, and are hoping that more generous Muskokans will donate to the project. Please send your cheque made out to the ‘CLMMRF’ to Box 53, Gravenhurst, ON, P1P 1T5. Drop me an email in Cambodia to mccoy@vianet.ca.

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