Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Final March ‘Muskoka School’ Visit

More final March Muskoka School photos can be found at:
I arrived back in Siem Reap the day before yesterday and the following morning made my final visit to the ‘Muskoka School’ Project Site before heading back to Canada tomorrow.

In total, I’ve made five visits to this school-building project site in Ta Trav village, Siem Reap province this winter, and was utterly amazed at the progress each time. I have to admit that this last visit was the most exciting because I can clearly envision now what the school will look like upon completion. Muskoka citizens and area Rotary Clubs can be very proud of what they accomplished through all their hard fundraising efforts!

Windows are in place, cement is covering most of the walls, floors are being flooded and beautiful balustrades are being made for the front porch railing. Soon, the metal roof will go on, front porch will be finished and then the last step will be pouring the floors. I found out yesterday that the school will also be handicap accessible with a cement wheelchair ramp in place. A recent request for a second latrine to be built beside the school will also be implemented shortly. Project completion should occur sometime late May, just before the beginning of the rainy season, and then the children will begin taking classes in their new six-room school.
The school’s grand opening will take place in late fall, so I’ll be able to attend and record this momentous celebration.

There are smiles on all the workers faces – these village workers are so proud of what they are accomplishing. Project and site managers have done an excellent job! The big congratulations goes to The Trailblazer Foundation, the registered charity from the United States, that has implemented so many beneficial projects in Siem Reap Province ( ). This is their biggest school-building project yet. They are in the early stages of planning a building project next winter that will see a large three-room kindergarten facility built for the education of ninety 3-5 year-old children, so their mothers can go out and work or receive training in job related skills at their women’s center. Trailblazers has installed many water filtration systems in this province and also installs hand-pull water pumps.

Many thanks go to Scott and Chris Coates, who volunteer for months here every winter to oversee these wonderful projects, and who have arranged the site visits for myself, and for the volunteers from Muskoka who visited here this past winter.

The ‘Muskoka School’ children have a couple of needs that I have discussed with Chris. First of all – they all need sandals (flip-flops). $300US will buy about 500 pairs. Chris has a market supplier that gives them this very good price. Not only do the kids wear these shoes, they also play a type of curling/tossing game with them at recess!

Also, some of the children need the mandatory blue and white school government school uniforms. The two-piece uniform costs about $3-$5US each for small sizes, and about $6US for large sizes. Chris will look into the exact pricing of these uniforms for me.

It would certainly be wonderful to come back in the fall and supply our ‘Muskoka School’ children with these items. Some of my upcoming fundraising efforts will go towards this. When I get back home to Gravenhurst, I will begin plans for our ‘Giant Garage Sale’, which will take place in June this year. Money raised from this sale will go towards shoes and uniforms for the ‘Muskoka School’ children, bicycles for needy rural students ($35US each), and for the Information and Technology Computer training scholarships (CICT Program) for the Burmese refugee students that I taught this past winter at ‘The All Burma Student’s I.T. Union’ in Mae Sot on the Thai-Burma border (ABITSU – ).

More information on the ‘Project Enlighten’ sponsored CICT Program can be found at . More about ‘The Bike Bank Project – Cambodia’ can be obtained at: .

You can contribute to these worthwhile projects by donating your used items to the ‘Giant Garage Sale’ by calling me at 705-687-8538, or emailing me at: . I am also available to give visual presentations regarding these projects and my past winter’s endeavors to any group.
I have more exciting news coming soon about another Rotary Club sponsored educational facility that will be built this coming winter. So, please keep your eye on this blog for further details as they come.