After six months of planning and a fundraising trip to the UK, the sixth project for SKOPE was successfully completed last week. We built a library, complete with a solar panel, in the grounds of our partner NGO, Karuna Youth Cambodia.
SKOPE has been working with Karuna Youth Cambodia for six months now and at this school we have set up a volunteer program. KYC is a Khmer-run organisation which provides free education to over four hundred students living in remote Kampong Speu. With only two classrooms, space is tight and the children receive one hour of English every day. Now, however, we’re hoping they are going to spend more of their spare time reading. Because they have a library.
This project was SKOPE’s biggest to date and the basic construction of the library building took two days. The finishing touches, including the cement floor and the solar panel, were added afterwards. Our co-ordinator, Ruth, was in the village for four days surrounding the project and was joined on the third day by children from Sovann Komar.
The building is simple enough - a basic wooden frame, three metres squared, was expertly constructed by some of the men from the village who had volunteered to help out. That’s one of the striking things about KYC - the support from the local community is unparalleled. Within one day the structure was up and the panelled walls were going on. The following day, some of the older children from Sovann Komar arrived to help with the project. Of course, we weren’t able to get them using electric saws on the roof but they got stuck in with the painting task! We decided on a vibrant orange for the walls, oddly fitting considering Sovann Komar’s onsite school when the orphanage first started was Orange Elephant.
After lunch the Sovann Komar children came for a walk through the village and countryside so they could see and learn about the lives of these rural families. We encourage our children to consider different lifestyles, the pros and cons of alternative environments, and develop a further understanding of rural Cambodia living.
KYC recently purchased an additional strip of land, intending to create a volleyball court and a football pitch. Currently, however, the land is being cleared so when we returned to the school, our children got stuck in with some of the manual labour for that challenge before heading back to the city.
There was also a donation of two laptops made to KYC to increase the size of their 'computer suite' by 50%. Thank you to The Orion Primary School who donated these laptops to SKOPE in September 2016 - they've finally reached their new home!
The library was finished over the following few days, with a cement floor being laid and then shelves installed once the paint was dry. A solar panel, donated by a generous supporter, has been attached to the roof of the school and now powers light inside and outside the building so children can read after the sun goes down. The solar panel was installed by one of our current volunteers, Reece, who just so happens to be an electrician. His partner Emma has been helping organise the shelving system as well as reading with the kids. The two volunteers, alongside Ruth, spent two evenings coding books that weekend and the staff are being trained in how to keep track of loaned books.
And onto the subject of the books. A fundamental ingredient to any library. We had a complete set of our usual Sipar books, discounted thanks to our continued relationship, to donate in the children’s native Khmer language. We had also received donations from Paññāsāstra University of Cambodia and new supporters Association of School Aid in Cambodia (ASAC). On top of that however, Ruth had done a book drive with two Rotary clubs in England. She collected together over six hundred high quality English-language books, veritable gold dust in Asia. And equally as heavy. So how do you fly so many books across the world on a limited (non-existent) budget? You ask for help, of course.
Ruth contacted DHL, one of the world’s largest courier companies, and asked for their support. Amazingly, after just a few back and forth emails, they agreed to ship 100kg of books completely free! Not only that but it was door to door service which took less than three days from Devon, England to Phnom Penh, Cambodia. Without the kindness of this corporate giant, our library would be a far sparser affair than it is today. So thank you, DHL. And no, a plug for the company was not a condition of the shipment. There were no conditions - it was simply a good deed!
As is often the case, Ruth took lots of video of the project and we are very proud to present to you today the short story of SKOPE’s latest success. For just $1300, Sovann Komar Outreach Program for Education built, decorated, stocked and installed a solar panel on a library in the middle of the Cambodian countryside. It truly is incredible what you can do with community support because without the locals who care for and value Karuna Youth Cambodia, this would have been a much greater challenge. It was tough, yes, but it was also amazing fun and by working as a team, SKOPE and KYC, along with all their supporters, have constructed a valuable education tool in the heart of the Cambodian countryside.
Thank you once again to all our donors in the UK, specifically the Rotary Club of Crediton, the Rotary Club of Plymouth, and the Rotary Club of Torquay. Take a look at what SKOPE achieved with your help.