I can't think of a better title for this project report than " planting the seeds".
Planting is a word rich with many meanings. I love that our student demonstration of this foundation movement of Cambodian dance, teaches us the visual word , " planting " . It is a word in a visually expressed "language" that tells a story that is a common thread of every civilization: planting new crops, sustaining life, creating new beginnings.
For our students especially, Champey Academy and the opportunities it offers our students,makes the theme of "planting" and new beginnings particularly appropriate. Champey Academy opens up the world of art, music and dance to students and is all about new beginnings, a new awakenings as students discover the vast talents that exist within themselves. Champey plants the seeds of a new beginning for each of our students.
Mark is in Cambodia right now and spending time at Champey where our Champey students continue to amaze us with their creativity, their excellence and their strong work ethic. This time of year, during school vacation, Champey is a very busy place as it also serves as an " overflow" community center for local students and children in the community as they come to participate in classes offered twice each day, teaching them about their rich cultural heritage of art, painting , music and dance, many of them, introduced to this world for the first time.
Link 1 below:
Our senior and middle students have been working hard to help us better showcase their talents and skills . This update will introduce you to our new slide show which shows several of the core hand movements that are essential in Cambodia dance to tell traditional stories. See our video below and learn about the hand movements that are the foundation of Cambodian classical dance.
Link 2 below:
On Sunday, April 3, Champey's dance students performed in a recital at Phnom Penh's well known Chaktomuk theater. The program that day included performances by arts groups from around Phnom Penh. The Champey students performed an original, nature themed piece choreographed by our teacher, Mr. Hang Sela. Their performance earned them rave reviews and helped to raise Champey Academy's profile in the Phnom Penh arts community. Click on the link below to view a brief video from their performance.
Link 3 below:
Our students present Lesson I in Classical Cambodian Dance along with an English narration.
As the reputation of Champey and its students grows , our students have recently been performing for groups of hotel tourists who have visited Champey. Our team of student " greeters" have been practicing their English language skills to the degree that they are now able to give a brief introduction and explanation about some of the basics of traditional Cambodian dance which is what has led to the video you can see in Link 3.
We are so grateful to our donors who have generously supported Champey and whose kind donations make these wonderful programs possible over a period of many years. Your support has and continues to make a real difference in the lives of our students, our student apprentice teachers and our adult teachers. We hope that you will continue to support our Champey students on this terrific artistic voyage upon which they have embarked.
Mark will return to the US on September 13, so please stay tuned for a more updates and new photos.
The name of our project on GlobalGiving is titled "Help Destitute Moms with AIDS care for their kids". Speaking as a mom,myseslf, there are few things that are more important than trying to help our kids get the education that will prepare them for a better world. For the moms in our program, this effort is particularly important as education can help their children break the cycle of inherited poverty.
The new school year will soon start in Cambodia. In preparation for each new year students are expected to turn up for the new school year prepared and adequately equipped.
In Cambodia, public school students are required to have a uniform, book bag and certain supplies. This seemingly easy goal for a middle class family is quite different for families similar to ours, whose tight budget would typically be used almost entirely for food and shelter, with little left over for education.
Because of this, a key part of our program to help the disadvantaged moms in our program, already impacted by AIDS, is to be certain that all of the students that are in our AIDS Patient Family Support Program, have the proper gear to begin school and real access to education. Costs for uniforms and supplies range from $25 to $35 per student, depending upon the grade level.
Typically, this means that a student will have
In Cambodia, the average education level achieved is just 6th grade, and we are so proud that the children our program are staying in school long past that.
Beyond the school “ kit” we provide, we also pay the extra weekly “ teacher fees”, a need that reflects the reality of underpaid public school teachers. If students can’t pay these fees, they are often ignored, ridiculed or even given failing grades by the teacher, so these fees are essential. Depending upon grade level, fees can be a much as $ 30 per month per student, or $ 300 per year, putting education costs for public education to about $ 325 per student per year.
Early in our efforts to help our students, we saw that some of our kids failed a grade and needed to repeat that grade. Some students, due to stresses in the family and other factors, had failed grades multiple times and were much older than other students just entering that grade. The shame of failure often caused students, even elementary students, to drop out of school. In recognition of this, we will also provide additional tutoring to try to keep children up to grade level and in school and early intervention is vitally important to this effort.
The chart below gives you an idea of the grading system for Cambodian students and as you can see, a failing grade really means that the student would have had a grade of under 50.
Our students have tried and thrived in school and we are proud to count our many middle school and high school graduates because of our focus on education in this program. One important outcome of this long term focus on education is that our graduates are getting better jobs after they leave school and are able to help support their families. Step by step, our efforts to educate the children in our AIDS Patient Family Support Program have enabled many of these students to break the cycle of inherited poverty and move gradually forward into Cambodia’s emerging middle class.
Our deepest thanks to all of our generous donors who have made this transformation possible.
Mark is in Cambodia this week and will be returning to the US on Sept 13 with an update, so please watch for our next post and program update.
Barbara & Mark
Percentage Grade Standard
85-100 A Excellent
79-84 B Very Good
70-78 C Good
65-69 D Fairly poor
50-64 E Fair
< 50 F Fail
We never know the worth of water till the well is dry. ~Thomas Fuller M.D , 1732
Change a life by giving the gift of water.
Most of us in the developed world have never known the hardship of lack of water. Some people may have experienced temporary interruption from a storm. Some folks have gone camping and adapted to a sharply limited, but temporary access to water. However, we usually do not stop to consider our great privilege as we turn on the tap and,of course, expect to get water.
I love the quote by Thomas Fuller, who in the 1700's , pointed out the obvious . We do not appreciate the real value of water until we have none.
Why our Rural Assistance Program began
Our Rural Assistance Program, (RAP ) rose from this concept in 1998, when we encountered farming families in northeasten Cambodia ( Prey Veng Province) who had experienced profound suffering from a prolonged drought.
According to UNICEF in Thailand, a crop failure from lack of rain occurs one of every 3 years in Southeast Asia. When faced with a failing rainy season, single crop rice farmers and their families become desperate.
In a normal rainy season, the rain water is captured in large clay jars, about 4 to 5 feet tall and about 3 feet in diameter , placed at each corner of the roof. The stored rain water is used in the dry season for drinking, cooking and limited bathing. While it is difficult to generalize how much rainwater is collected, a 2001 article by UNICEF in Thailand estimated that an 11 cubic meter jar, if full, could provide enough just drinking and cooking water for a family of 5 for one year. Without stored rain water, families are forced to go to desperate means to get water. This can mean pulling even small children out of school to use them as labors to carry water, sometimes from great distances and sending older children and parents to the cities to search for work.
The knock on effect: No rain, no drinking water, no food
When the rice crops fail because the rains don’t come, it means that there will be no food for the coming year. This forces single crop rice farmers and all able bodied teens and adults to head for the cities, usually, Phnom Penh the capital, in hopes of finding work of any kind.
Illiterate and without resources, these workers are typically exploited and paid as little as $ 1 to $3 per day for hard labor and sometimes dangerous work in construction. Women and girls often turn to prostitution as a way to earn money. The migrant workers eventually return to their villages weeks or months later , sometimes, unknowingly bringing HIV to their villages.
Our solution was to drill wells where appropriate, as a cost effective way to bring a reliable, safe source of water to these families and allow them to live a more secure life, focusing their efforts on more diversified farming and educating their children.
Elementary and Middle School students sponsor 4 wells to change lives
A well costs just $ 270.
As parents, we often talk about how to help our kids, in the developed world, to understand and appreciate the challenges of others less fortunate.
Talk about personal empowerment and understanding! The American School in Tokyo Japan, Elementary School students sponsored 2 wells and the Middle School students also sponsored 2 wells . The ASIJ students raised money throughout the school year to fund the wells from various activities including sales of Friendship bracelets* at their Winter Festival and other events.These students , by working to sponsor the four wells, have dramatifcally changed the lives of these four families and their neighbors.
You can change a life by giving the gift of water!
These wells are life changing for a farming family. Access to a well provides
Over the past 15 years and more than 500 wells later, we estimate that each well serves several additional families.
With 8 wells sponsored, we are actively seeking donations to pay for the remaining 22 wells we drilled so that we can continue to offer this life changing project to other families.
We are deeply grateful to you, our donors for your generous support to helping to transform lives by providing access to water.
Barbara & Mark Rosasco
*The Friendship bracelets are a small income project for teenage girls cared for in a group home run by Catholic nuns in Bangkok, Thailand. These girls make the friendship bracelets as a way to earn pocket money.