Sunday, February 1, 2009

Muskokans Visit ‘Muskoka School' Site!

Yesterday was a memorable day spent with Scott Aitchison and Tim Cantelon from Muskoka as they visited the ‘Muskoka School’ project site and the Cambodia Landmine Museum here in Siem Reap, Cambodia.

Scott and Tim are currently touring through Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos and arrived in Siem Reap 2 days ago to spend 3 amazing days here. Yesterday was the day they had set aside to visit the ‘Muskoka School’ site in the rural village of Ta Trav, 25km northwest of Siem Reap. Ground breaking for this school building project is only days away with material delivery to the site on February 5, and construction commencing on February 10! Estimated completion date could be sometime in May.

Scott and Tim are generous supporters of the Muskoka School Project, who contributed to a classroom which will be designated as the ‘Huntsville Classroom’.

Everyone at the Trailblazer Foundation ( ) here in Siem Reap is in full swing now that all the finances and official government paperwork are in place for this building project. The ‘Muskoka School’ Project is a Community Outreach Project of the Cambodia Landmine Museum Relief Fund in collaboration with the Trailblazer Foundation.

Scott, Tim and I met at a central café in Siem Reap for breakfast, and shortly after 9am Ben, Brian and Khmer team members from the Trailblazer Foundation arrived with our transportation to Ta Trav village. We climbed into the open back of the Trailblazer pick-up truck and made our way out to the countryside. It was slow going on bumpy, dusty roads. Everywhere you look everything is covered in the dry, red dust characteristic to Cambodia.

It was really great to get back to the school site again, and especially nice to show it off to fellow Muskokans. At present 478 children are attending the 4-room wooden structure in desperate need of repair as its main beams are infested with termites. Ben Gooding from Trailblazers took us through the school and its grounds, and we were invited into a classroom and treated to a chorus of song from the Khmer students. We met the director and were treated to a fresh coconut drink from one of the school ground trees.

After spending a good hour at the site, we headed back to Siem Reap for lunch at a favorite spot of mine – the Green House restaurant.

Canadian Richard Fitoussi, Project Manager of the Cambodia Landmine Museum Relief Fund met us after lunch and we took the 40-minute ride out to the Landmine Museum for a VIP tour of the museum and its facility for the landmine kids that are housed there.

Needless to say, Scott and Tim had an enlightening and memorable day and have lots of photos and memories to take back home to Muskoka with them.

But Scott and Tim aren’t the only friends from Muskoka visiting Siem Reap this winter. I’m looking forward to the arrival of Jay and Linda Harrison from Gravenhurst on February 14th. They’ll be coming over to do some volunteer teaching and to build shelves for the Library at the Voluntary Development Poverty Children School on the outskirts of Siem Reap. They’ll bring bringing tons of library supplies donated by Robena Kirton from Gravenhurst. Jay and Linda will be coming loaded with supplies for this school and other worthwhile projects as well.

Exciting times ahead in Siem Reap!

Many thanks go to the ‘Muskoka School’ Team back home, who keep things going for me while I’m over here. Special thanks to my husband Carl, Dan Blix, Bill Rathbun, Jay and Linda Harrison. Thanks to all the residents and Rotary Clubs of Muskoka and beyond, who contributed towards the ‘Muskoka School’ Project.

Enjoy watching a short video shot yesterday of a class of students singing at the ‘Muskoka School’ site at: