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.
As the end of the year approaches, we are thankful for many things but first among them is the fact that this has been our best year yet for individuals like yourself donating to Tiny Toones. This has been essential - it is harder than ever to find funding from grants or institutions, so we need individual supporters like you to keep going. That's why we launched the 100 Club as an exclusive club for individual givers who donate every month. Most of you are members and your support is invaluable in what remains a challenging future for us. Your support has had an immediate impact: in November our teachers received a very overdue payrise thanks to you, one that they utterly deserve and is also essential to keeping their incredible services. We are also busy recruiting for a much needed new teacher thanks directly to you guys. For those of you who haven’t seen our Facebook post yet, we have started work on the Wall of Fame, our tribute to you, our regular supporters. As we said on Facebook, it was quite emotional, as the first name KK wrote was Savoeun Sek, a Cambodian American who sadly died 2 years ago. He gave a lot to Cambodia in his lifetime, supporting local education, and Sonya joined the 100 Club so his contribution will continue in his memory. You’ll also see Yuko Ichikawa's name, who has been donating every month for many years - our longest serving individual giver. Everyone else’s names will be added in the months to come. We are so grateful to all supporters from all over the world, for believing in our work and our kids. Happy holidays, a wonderful new year, and thank you to every one of you. Love The Tiny Toones Family
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