Oct 20, 2020

Back in Action

Stretching to prepare for the day's lesson!
Stretching to prepare for the day's lesson!

HHC School Programme

We’re happy to report that we are now seeing some light at the end of this pandemic-shaped tunnel! As of September 7th, almost 6 months after mandatory school closures brought Cambodian education to a nationwide halt, we have finally been permitted to resume most normal operations at our Helping Hands School, our first focal point for our Sports Programme, and we are proud to say that attendance was back up to 95% attendance from just two weeks after reopening.

The staff have wasted no time in resuming and expanding the sports programme at HHC. After six months of limited home-based, socially distanced learning, it is refreshing to see the courts once again filled with games, drills and matches. At present, the program’s main focus is on our ‘Goals for Girls’ initiative, which promotes women’s empowerment via sport. The program has been training twenty young women aged between 16-19 as coaches and referees, placing them in positions of leadership and responsibility that defy conventional gender roles in Cambodia. As the country emerges from virus restrictions, they’ll soon be able to put their skills to use, organizing and managing larger matches amongst the wider community.

Looking Forward

Whilst uncertainty for the future remains, we are deeply proud that the commitment to sports education shown by our students, their families, and community leaders, has risen above the turmoil and doubt sewn by the Covid-19 pandemic. Whatever the coming months may bring, sports will be a positive force, be that by via lifelong lessons in teamwork and leadership or by simply providing some relief from the ever-changing stresses of rural life in Cambodia.

And as always, thank you for your continued, invaluable support. If you would like to donate, and we hope you do, please visit our page! You can also subscribe to our newsletter for regular Globalteer updates regarding this and all of our other projects!

Football drills!
Football drills!
Oct 20, 2020

Progress, even during the pandemic!

Adobe bricks being prepared for construction
Adobe bricks being prepared for construction

Although our contact with our group of women has been limited due to pandemic restrictions in Cusco, we have none the less been able to make quite a bit of progress with our project. We have adapted our system of building guinea pig houses, hiring members of the local community to make the adobe bricks used for the walls of the structures, rather than buying them from other producers. This is an asset to both us and the community, as we can avoid transport costs bringing in the adobe bricks from other areas and we can provide work for people in the village, which is much needed during these times.

Using this system, we have finished the main structure of two new guinea pig structures for two additional women to begin their businesses. We just need to add roofing and other materials that we must transport in from other areas, which is now possible due to travel restrictions being lifted. Local village members are also in the process of building the walls for one more structure, meaning that soon, three women will have a brand-new start for guinea pig raising!

Now in Business!

We are also proud to report that even during the pandemic, the first businesses we helped to set up have been successfully operating and selling their first guinea pigs! Local restaurants have been allowed to re-open, and many are seeking naturally raised meats, which is great for the women in our programme. As Peru lifts even more restrictions in the coming months, we expect their businesses to flourish.

Greenhouse Plans

In our last report, we spoke about a new aspect to our programme – greenhouses for organic vegetable farming. We are currently speaking with Erlinda, the leader of the group of women we work with in Pinagua, about plans for our first greenhouse. We have the design laid out and should be purchasing all necessary materials soon. Hopefully, with our next report, we’ll have new photos to share from this exciting addition to our project.

Thank you for taking the time to read our update, and as always, thank you for your continued, invaluable support. If you would like to donate, and we hope you do, please visit our page to do so!

A brood of new offspring
A brood of new offspring
Oct 8, 2020

School is back!

The breakfast lines are back!
The breakfast lines are back!

Dear Helping Hands friends, 

We hope this finds you well and hope that you and your loved ones are getting through this unprecedented time as best possible.  We’d like to update you on what's been happening here, and we’re particularly excited to share some positive news with you!

Welcoming our Students Back

As you may know, schools across Cambodia were closed in early March, but we’re very excited to announce that last month we were able to re-open Helping Hands school, much to the delight of teachers and students!  While schools were shut, the staff continued to check in on students and ran lessons for them in their homes.  Visiting all the students and covering as much as possible in significantly reduced time was definitely a challenge, but both teachers and students appreciated their time together, and the students, as ever, amazed us with their enthusiasm and motivation to continue learning. 

Home-school lessons focused on Health and Hygiene, English, Khmer and Sports, and although this worked well, there's no doubt that the reduction in lesson time had an impact on our students learning.  It's now a priority to ensure they have understood all the material and are on track, and the last few weeks have largely focussed on reviewing the material covered in home-school.  This month we are working towards providing our full educational programme again, including Maths, Arts and Crafts, and Music and Dance.  The re-opening of school also means that daily breakfasts are back!  Ensuring our students have the nutrition and energy to take on the day has long been a priority of ours, and we're happy to get back to filling them up with a balanced meal including freshly picked vegetables from our garden!

Bringing our Students Back and the Importance of Social Care

Unfortunately over the months of home-schooling, some of our older students became less and less available to meet with their teachers, and when school re-opened there were a number who didn't return.  In an effort to support their families who are suffering from significantly reduced job opportunities, these students are spending much of their time foraging and looking for opportunities to make a little money. It’s clear that at times like this survival instincts kick in and education takes a back seat, however after all the work and commitment these students have put into learning, we’re determined to do all we can to encourage them to continue their education.

School Director Sopheap and Social Worker Kong have been working particularly hard to arrange meetings with these students and their families to discuss their situation and encourage the students to return to school. Much to our relief, we now have 90% of our students back in classes, and we’re continuing to work with the other families to help find solutions. Without our in-house Social Worker, this simply wouldn’t be possible.

Our holistic approach is what makes Helping Hands a success. Without proper nutrition, health, and social care, our students wouldn't be in a position to learn, and to enjoy having space and time where they can be themselves, be kids, play and have fun.  

Our Ongoing Concerns and a Big Ask!

The last 6 months have been strange, unsettling and worrying times for the Helping Hands staff and community, as they have been for you and for many, many others around the world. Although the re-opening of school eliminates some concerns, much of the worry and uncertainty remains.   The repercussions of this year have unfortunately left us struggling to fund and run our full programme. Without volunteers and with a few long-term supporters no longer being able to support us, the financing and future of Helping Hands is a concern for us all. 

Our students need us more than ever.  Our mission and goals remain the same, and we are doing out utmost to continue providing education, nutrition and health and social care for all our students. But we need your help to do this.  We’re humbly making a big ask today.  To ensure the future of Helping Hands we need an additional 20 people to commit to a monthly donation of US$25 (£20 or currency equivalent) a month to secure the future of Helping Hands.  Can you help us?

We completely understand that you may not be able to make this commitment at this time, and if that’s the case we ask that you share our ask with friends, family or colleagues who you think may be able to support us.  If you’re in a position to offer a donation of a different amount, whether a monthly donation, or a one-off donation, we would be immensely grateful to receive your support.  No amount is too small.

Monthly donations gratefully received here: http://bit.ly/HH-M-GlobalGiving

One-off donations gratefully received here: http://bit.ly/HH-LittleByLittle

Thank you so much for all that you’ve done to support Helping hands.  We hope to share more positive news with you soon.

Best wishes to you and your family

Jess, Sopheap and all at Helping Hands

Happy to be back in the classroom.
Happy to be back in the classroom.
Enjoying play time with friends.
Enjoying play time with friends.
Sports classes back in the school yard!
Sports classes back in the school yard!
Happy faces at the end of a full day of learning!
Happy faces at the end of a full day of learning!
 
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