Just a couple of weeks ago we were beyond delighted to open our gates again, at last giving some of Phnom Penh's most disadvantaged - and amazing! - kids a chance to again learn, play and create. We are thrilled, and so are the kids, and it was only possible because of you, our donors.
Just as a reminder of the situation here - while Cambodia has had far fewer cases of COVID-19 than other countries, it has still had to take many emergency measures to protect its citizens. This included the temporary closure of schools and community centres like ours, as well as the restriction of almost all international travel. This has had a catastrophic impact on the economy, one which will likely be felt for many years to come.
During the closure we placed a lot of focus on trying to encourage safety in the communities we work in. We promoted social distancing and mask-wearing, including the use of entertaining videos to get the message across to children. Thanks to local businesses and the generosity of supporters like you, we were able to support those who were suffering the worst consequences of COVID. But now we are able to do our work more directly, in the way we love, by working directly with our kids in the classrooms and in our creative studios. We are taking many sensible measures including social distancing, face masks and regular temperature checking, but we are again open and for that we are very grateful.
The other thing we are incredibly grateful for is all of you. You supported us all the way through this so we didn’t have to close our centre or lose any of our incredible teachers, blows which we might never have recovered from. You kept us going and that has kept our kids going.
It probably won't surprise you to hear that our biggest news is the impact of COVID-19, which has had a huge and devastating impact in Cambodia as in so many other countries.
While Cambodia has had far fewer cases of COVID-19 than many other countries, it has still had to take many emergency measures to protect its citizens. This has included the temporary closure of schools and community centres like ours, as well as the restriction of almost all international travel. This has had a catastrophic impact on the economy, one which will likely be felt for many years to come.
In the short term, our focus has had to shift to keeping Tiny Toones alive so that when the restrictions are lifted the kids still have a safe place to go in our centre. We have never had a large workforce and payroll, and so we are managing to keep most of our team until we can reopen, which is essential given their years of experience. Our rent, already as low as possible in Phnom Penh, could not be reduced. Our costs are very low but we are still struggling and your support is what is keeping us going.
We have placed a lot of focus on trying to encourage safety in the communities we work in. We have promoted social distancing and mask wearing, including the use of graphics and entertaining videos, and were incredibly happy when a local business manufactured colourful, child-friendly masks and made them free for our children.
In fact, if there has been one big positive thing about all of this, it's the way Cambodians and others have stepped in to support those who are really suffering. Another local business donated food to the most disadvantaged families and we were recently thrilled when our long term friend Micaela Love, now living in the USA, encouraged people to donate to us for her birthday. She raised over $2,000, money which went directly into emergency food for the poorest and more community outreach to children who might be at risk.
The other thing we are incredibly grateful for is all of you. Everyone who is still supporting us, keeping us alive, even though we know many other people are crying out for your money and you will be going through hardships yourselves, no doubt.
You are giving our kids hope, because again and again we are hearing that they just want to come back and see their friends and learn again. Your support means we can still give them that hope. It's hard to put in words just how much this means to us.
We want to wish you an incredible new decade and a very late Happy Christmas (we apologise, there was a technical problem with the last mailout so we are sending it again in February).
Everyone who gets this update is a member of the 100 Club, our exclusive club for our regular donors. You are the backbone of Tiny Toones, ensuring we can keep our teaching staff paid so that they can pass on their knowledge to the vulnerable kids we support.
For the last three months your funds have kept our school operational through the whirlwind that is the start of the school year, followed by Christmas, followed by New Year. For kids who don't have much, this can be a sad time of year - but you made it special by allowing us to keep our doors open so that we could throw our annual Christmas party for the kids, who loved it all.
For some reason, Santa was still wearing his winter clothes even though it was above 30 degrees.
Thank you for making all of this happen. You'll be hearing lots more news soon!
Almost everyone who gets this update is a member of the 100 Club, our exclusive club for our regular donors. You are the backbone of Tiny Toones, ensuring we can keep our teaching staff paid so that they can pass on their knowledge to the vulnerable kids we support.
For the last three months your funds have kept our school operational through the busiest time of our year, which is the end of the school year. We supported kids who came to us without any education to give them a sense of achievement as they finished their first full year going to school, and we also supported other kids as they sat exams in public school, something which many wouldn't have thought possible a few years ago.
Thank you for making all of this happen.
But it hasn't all been work work work. We did manage to take a break to star in this video made by our former student turned Cambodian hip hop superstar, Sang Sok Serey. Watch and enjoy, this is our favourite song of the summer, and not just because our kids appear throughout!
Almost everyone who will receive this update is a member of the 100 Club, our exclusive club for our regular donors. You are the backbone of Tiny Toones, ensuring we can keep our teaching staff paid so that they can pass on their knowledge to the vulnerable kids we support. And for that you deserve thanks.
When we launched the 100 Club last year, we promised our members exclusive videos, and here is the first. When respected Singaporean film maker Cecilia Ang came to Tiny Toones to shoot a music video with us she asked if there was anything else she could do to help us. We said YES - please try and capture just some of the activities that we are able to do because of our regular donors. This is the result.
If you want to share it with your friends, and maybe get them to join the club (we have 28 places left), you'd be very welcome.
Thanks, as ever, from all the Tiny Toones team and most of all the kids.
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