The Cambodian school year has started during this reporting period.
Initially, we had 14 students at registration time, and now, we have 94 students enrolled. After assessing pre-existing knowledge & skills of each student, we were able to allocate individual students to their correct learning levels. The priority for ABO is to improve the ongoing learning and students' success. We are setting students up for success!
Teachers built a comprehensive picture of the impact of covid effects on our surrounding communities during the registration process. Many families struggle with bankruptcy after defaulting on loans with the loss of tourism through the pandemic, and they cannot fund their children’s studies. ABO offers no-fee study lessons, working to support struggling families.
Without sustainable funding, ABO continues to prioritise resources to support and develop our student's learning. We value partnership with our local Pagoda, which provides us with a venue to use when state school closes for the day. Venue sharing comes with challenges, limiting flexibility for class times in the evenings.
We are, however, eternally optimistic. With great learnings over many years, we are encouraged with the things we can achieve. Your support will help us reach our vision: Shaping Stronger Futures for 200 kids in Cambodia.
In the 4th quarter of 2021, Kroch Bopha, Director of ABO, decided to relocate the school, which became another new beginning. This change came about after management changes within the organization. It is now located back at What Po Langkar, Slor Kram Village, Siem Reap. Slor Kram Village has a population of 2,553 people. The Slor Kram commune comprises eight villages with around 220,000 people. The local monks in the village are providing their Pagoda for classes initially. So far, 14 students have enrolled for classes that will begin in January 2022. At this stage, there will be two classes. The plan is to build a new school and develop education and community services as per ABO’s previous model.
The change in location and school is in its early days. While this will be a new school, it will have the benefit and experience of Kroch Bopha to lead this initiative. In addition, Mr Phall will join as the Education officer (previous teacher at ABO school). Of course, ABO and Bopha will have the support of ABO Rural School Siem Reap Inc and donors from around the world.
A change in bank account details and the building of new staff and board members have been the focus for Bopha, ensuring that any local regulatory matters are set up correctly. Meanwhile, the Australian incorporated society team members are working on final pieces of documentation to enable the receipt of tax-deductible gifts for ABO in Cambodia. We hope this will be in place during the first half of 2022. Working together, we determine all school needs, including staffing requirements, laptops, whiteboards, supplies and any other material. Once we understand these needs, we will develop a budget for 2022 and determine various ways to raise funds for the school.
We are all excited about ABO entering a new challenge in 2022.
Overall fundraising for ABO School continues to be slow, primarily due to the COVID pandemic. Schools in Siem Reap remain closed to students, including ABO School. As the borders remain closed to foreigners and no tourists, businesses have sustained substantial financial and social hardship.
Nevertheless, ABO is still open and helping the community. The school recently received 1000 KG of rice from donors in Phnom Penh. The school will provide 70% of the rice to the poorest in the community and will keep the remaining 30% for the school.
With the closing of the borders, Cambodia went from millions of visitors to virtually none. Most jobs in the tourism sector vanished. Lots of parents depended on some or all income coming from this sector. The teachers in the school realized that urgent action was needed. Almost immediately, they started the vegetable garden on the school's grounds, fully constructed by the teachers and pupils. This project also doubledas a "skill development in agriculture program" for the students.
Bopha and Sayouen (founders of ABO) started a Chicken Coop for sustainability. As the Coop grew and the stock increased, the school began toprovide 3 hens and one rooster to students' families. To date, we have six sets out with six families. Plans are ongoing to extend this program out to more local families.
We are working closely with supporters across the globe to establishing an Australian NGO to support the school's fundraising activities. The goal is to have this entity set up by the end of the year.
Your financial support continues to contribute toward making all of this possible, and we thank you for caring and assisting in shaping a stronger future for students at ABO school.
ABO has experienced several challenges recently; they have come in the form of development, creativity, love, and loss.
With covid changing the world, challenging our everyday way of life, and impacting students worldwide, ABO had to get creative - and creative we got!
During periods of lockdown, teachers became creative in many ways to provide students the safety to attend school once a week to eat a meal, deliver their completed work for the past week, and receive their homework for the upcoming week.
With a vision for the future and concerns about sustainability, the Executive Director and Education Officer became busy developing a chicken farm. The business model aims to generate future income to support the school and provide food security for students and their families. This work is underpinned by our commitment to contributing to Cambodia's Sustainable Development Goals and, in particular: No poverty and Decent Work and Economic Growth.
We were so very grateful to have the office and computer room completed recently. Students enjoyed tending to the surrounding gardens for the beautification process that enhances their learning journeys.
Sadly, ABO suffered a great loss in April, losing Teacher Mr. Piseth to a tragic illness. Piseth started his connection with ABO as a young student, graduating and pursuing higher studies; Piseth then became an accountant and entrepreneur businessman. Piseth and was a much cared for and respected teacher to his many students, and his memory will live long, bringing a smile and tear to the eye of many.
Welcome to the first ABO report for 2021. This past year has seen significant changes and adaptions to the environment we found ourselves in due to COVID-19. We had to rethink how to deliver education and adapt our support for students, families, and communities. We chose to focus on food security and nutrition services to provide critical economic support to low-income families struggling in our villages.
To support sustainability, we introduced a Skill Development in Agriculture program. Students developed knowledge on food security and nutrition by preparing the land, planting seeds, watering, and caring for vegetables in the school organic garden. The vegetables were then used in a food program that incorporated English Language education, assessing homework from the previous week and allocating projects for the week ahead. This kept our communities engaged and students active during a very challenging time.
After school reopened from a six-month mandatory closure (COVID -19 prevention measure), our two goals were to ensure the quality of education was reinstated and avoid dropouts due to the challenge of being away from school for that significant length of time. Student attendance numbers resumed to a full roll, and together we move forward.
Your financial support has contributed toward making all of this possible, and we thank you for caring and assisting in shaping a stronger future for students at ABO school!
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