Nov 17, 2015

Christmas is coming to Picaflor House...

Picaflor kids enjoying Christmas hot chocolate
Picaflor kids enjoying Christmas hot chocolate

It may only be November but there is no escaping the fact that Christmas is just around the corner. In Cusco Christmas celebrations are a wonderful mix of old Andean traditions and the more familiar celebrations that arrived with the Spanish conquistadors and Catholicism in the 16th Century. Despite December 25th being right in the middle of the rainy season, nothing puts a dampener on celebrations for the exuberant Peruvians.

Christmas in the village

Less than an hour outside of Cusco is the village of Oropesa, home to Picaflor House, and even here everyone looks forward to Christmas too. Celebrations will not be as cosmopolitan or as glamorous as the street parades and huge markets in Cusco, but even a small scale celebration is a change from everyday life for the hard-working villagers.

For the children of Picaflor House, Christmas means one thing – Chocolate! Or to be more precise a ‘chocolatada’ - a traditional Christmas treat of mugs of delicious spiced hot chocolate and wedges of scrummy sweet panettone. The Picaflor House chocolatada is funded each year by one of our local business partners, Southern Crossings Tours to whom we are extremely grateful. Christmas without a chocolatada for the children of the project would be like Christmas without presents for children in the UK or Australia or the US.

There's more to life than study!

At Picaflor House it’s not just about academic classes, it’s also about allowing these disadvantaged children to enjoy being children which is why the project takes a holistic approach to our programme. Arts and crafts, games, sport, music and dance are as important as Maths, Spanish and English! And being able to enjoy Christmas like everyone else is important too.

We also teach about health and hygiene, including the importance of regular teeth cleaning - especially important after those sweet Christmas treats - and thanks to one generous donor every child at Picaflor House receives a piece of fresh fruit every day.

We thank all our supporters who make it possible for us to give so much to the fantastic children of Picaflor House, all year round. Please help spread the word about our work by sharing this with your friends. Thank you!

Chocolate and gifts at Picaflor House in 2014
Chocolate and gifts at Picaflor House in 2014
Lining up for cake, hot chocolate and gifts!
Lining up for cake, hot chocolate and gifts!
Excitement is brewing!
Excitement is brewing!

Links:

Sep 4, 2015

How your donations are having an impact in Cambodia

Helping Hands Tailoring Student
Helping Hands Tailoring Student

The Global Giving Challenge is over.

It’s hard to believe that it is already almost two months since Helping Hands took part in the Global Giving Fundraising challenge – but for all of us here the memories of all our supporters’ enthusiasm, ingenuity and generosity are still very fresh in our minds. We are delighted (and more than a little bit humbled) that with your help we raised a total of just under £7,000 or just over US$10,700!

Let’s not forget that the challenge was also a competition and thanks to everyone’s support and generosity we raised the third highest amount of all the projects taking part which meant we were also awarded a cash bonus of £500 from Global Giving!

We received donations from Cambodia, Peru, The UK, France, USA, Australia, Singapore and Taiwan to name just a few of the countries where Helping Hands enjoys support. So once again thank you to everyone who donated and everyone who organised fundraisers to help us achieve this amazing goal.

Meawhile in Cambodia...

Work at Helping Hands continues apace, and your donation is helping us to continue our work with the amazing people of Prasat Chas village. To give you an insight into the long term impact that Helping Hands has on the community, please read the following report from Helping Hands Project Manager Lisa Morris who tells us about the positive difference we have made to just a few of the studenst we have been working with...

“Since August 2014 we've helped 12 highly motivated young adults to access further and higher education in Cambodia's second 'city', Siem Reap, a one and a half hour bicycle ride from the village.

These opportunities offer realistic training and futures for students from the village. Children often drop-out of education before they complete high school, due to family and financial pressures, making it impossible for them to continue at university or secure a good job. The main option for these young adults is low-paid, often dangerous, temporary construction work.

Amongst our success stories this year is a 21 year old girl who was working in construction and is now undertaking a tailoring course, which includes making school uniforms for the students at Helping Hands. She will soon graduate and return to her village with a sewing machine and new skills to establish a simple business.

Two young women also previously working in construction are now in training at a respected Cambodian beauty school, again with the intention of returning to their community to set up small businesses. And one Helping Hands graduate is set to be an exceptional Khmer chef thanks to our new partnership with training restaurant Haven.

In addition to this, Helping Hands recently celebrated one of our ex-students graduating from our sponsored training program at the Bayon Pastry School in Siem Reap, and she now continues her hard work and success as sous-chef at a luxury hotel.

Helping Hands Cambodia’s objective is to break the cycle of poverty in rural Cambodia by helping people to help themselves. The successes that we celebrate in education and training with these young adults are only possible through the generosity of our supporters and of course the hard work, dedication and commitment of these inspirational students. Well done to them for their successes!”

We hope we can count on your continued support and we look forward to bringing you more news soon!

Helping Hands Pastry school graduate and family
Helping Hands Pastry school graduate and family
Helping Hands Scholarship Student
Helping Hands Scholarship Student
Jul 9, 2015

How Helping Hands is tackling the challenges of basic education in Cambodia.

Breakfast at Helping Hands
Breakfast at Helping Hands

If you give a man a fish…” begins that somewhat overused saying. Yes, it is a bit of a cliché but the only reason this saying has been quoted so much is because it is so true.

Helping Hands’ commitment to improving the lives of our community reflects this saying in many ways. We don’t believe in giving people a handout – a fleeting gift that will last a moment, quickly leaving the recipient needing and expecting another handout. On the contrary, we believe in giving people a hand up, which is to say helping people to find their own sustainable solutions to the challenges that life throws at them rather than a quick, easy, temporary fix.

At the cornerstone of Helping Hands’ philosophy is our holistic approach to education as we believe that by teaching people to make a better life for themselves will have a much longer lasting impact on them and their families and generations to come.

Before explaining more about our approach to education, here are some facts that not many people realise about going to school in Cambodia

  1. State education is free but all children, no matter how badly off they are, have to have a school uniform.
  2. Teaching in the state sector is generally a poorly paid profession which leads to low standards of teaching and the only way to make up for this is paying for private tuition, something poorer families simply cannot afford.
  3. The distances that high school children have to travel to school can be very long, with some of the Helping Hands students having to cycle as much as two hours just to get to state school. Tiring enough in the dry season, often impossible in the wet season contributing to students falling behind and dropping out.
  4. Children of the poorest families often have to go without breakfast making concentration and in some cases even staying awake in class extremely difficult.
  5. Poor nutrition, sanitation and hygiene can lead to frequent illnesses that prevent children from attending school.

And here are some of the ways Helping Hands tackles issues associated with education:

  1. We provide all our students with two free state school uniforms each so that they can attend state school and don’t have to be ashamed of what they are wearing
  2. The free education provided at Helping Hands mirrors and compliments the state school curriculum making up for low state school standards and teaching our students new skills they may not learn at school.
  3. Helping Hands is within walking distance or an easy cycle ride for all our students, so even when they cannot get to state school they can almost always make it to Helping Hands.
  4. Every day Helping Hands provides a free nutritious breakfast for up to 100 of the poorest children to help counter malnutrition and to make sure they have the energy for a day of learning
  5. Helping Hands not only teaches traditional academic subjects but also focuses on nutrition and agriculture, health and hygiene to improve the overall wellbeing of our community and minimise health-related school or work absences.

We believe that our holistic approach is the best way to make a long term difference to all our villagers. This is what your donations are helping to fund and why your support is so very much appreciated. A huge thank you for helping to make our work possible.

And finally, just in case anyone doesn’t know the rest of it, the words of that saying continue like this. “Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day…Teach a man to fish and you will feed him forever.”

Installing filters for clean drinking water
Installing filters for clean drinking water
Hard at work in one of our classrooms
Hard at work in one of our classrooms
Toothbrushes for everyone!
Toothbrushes for everyone!
 
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