'Without aspirations, we will lack a sense of hope; without a sense of hope we can not achieve'
When I was in Siem Reap last year, I visited Prosh's School and was impressed to hear his story of how his school had begun.
While I was in Siem Reap, I met an extraordinary man, Prosh, who started teaching english to children in his community in his living room. They came in flocks. Soon his house was no longer big enough for all the enthusiastic children, so he invested his money and raised funds to build several buildings that have now become a small community school. The children come from far and wide and their smiles reveal how excited they are to be there in the classrooms, learning and believing that they have hope for the future.
This time on my visit to Prosh's school I was impressed and overwhelmed by how much the school has developed and achieved over 6 months since I was here.
Firstly, Prosh is a forward thinker and a man with a mind for business. His goal is to make his school sustainable and self sufficient, no longer needing funds to help keep it running and to pay the teacher's wages which seems to always be a stressful financial problem for him at the moment. So with his business sense and financial assistance from the KICK funds, he invested in some pigs as a way to generate income. The community built the pig pens on the school grounds and there are now several healthy and fat pigs being well looked after and ready for sale in a months time.
I was also happy to see that another classroom had been built and the plans was to turn this building into a music/arts room and textiles room. I was so delighted to see how much building had been added to the growing school.
I was even more excited to hear about how an Australian company, 'Three Monkeys,' donated $7,000 worth of solar panels and equipment to the school. What a generous contribution given by an extremely charitable company. Once these panels are installed, they will provide the school with all the power it needs plus more. Therefore, Prosh will no longer have to pay electrical bills and then the money can go towards paying teacher wages instead. A brilliant solution to alleviate the financial strain made possible by noble and generous people.
Currently, Prosh is also working with the local women in the village on a textiles project. They are designing and making boxes from bamboo and Palm leaves that will be sold to a supplier who has expressed an interest in buying a certain number of these boxes from Prosh each month. Again another brilliant business initiative to provide funds for the school and I admire Prosh's vision to get the whole community involved so they too can benefit from production and profit. He hopes to invest in a couple of sewing machines so garments can also be made and sold. Of course these projects are in their initial stages and require funding to start them off, but in time if managed well, these business initiatives will help provide crucial funds for the school.
This weekend, there will be a working bee at the school to create a vegetable garden where vegies can be grown which can be eaten by the children. There will also be a chicken coup to build and chickens to buy. Having chickens in the school will provide eggs and hence food so that the children will have something to eat. Often these children come to school hungry and hence their fatigue and lack of concentration can affect their learning.
At the moment the generous and caring Barb and Chris provide watermelon or an egg for each child donated by them from their own money.
Most of all, I was happy to hear that previous students that Prosh had taught at his original school in his home are now being sponsoring to go to Uni to become teachers themselves. Several of them are now teaching in the school. A wonderful example of how a school can eventually reap the fruits of its labor. It's lovely to see that these now educated young men have chosen to come back and teach and share their skills with the students.
When I revisit Siem Reap in the future, I can only imagine what these schools we have sponsored will be like. With continued support they will grow and become sustainable and self sufficient. A wonderful reward for all.
This will be my last blog regarding my visit to Siem Reap and the schools we are sponsoring with the KICK fund and projects. Of course Barb and Chris will continue to follow up on the progress of the projects and continue to oversee the schools and mentor them through their journey. We look forward to their updates and progress.
Thank you all for your contributions to the KICK fundraiser fund and for your support. I have seen first hand the difference your kindness and generosity has made to the lives of these people and we all are grateful to you and your kindness.