So Much Accomplished!

Greetings blog followers,

We’ve received lots of feedback from families, friends and other Operation Groundswell participants saying how interested they are in our activities and how they’re avidly following our blog. We’re incredibly happy and proud to be sharing our accomplishments with everyone through the magic of the Internet.

We’ll begin this post by describing our time with Save the Children in Asia Organization (SCAO). Founded by the incredible Mr. Samit, a survivor of the Khmer Rouge genocide, SCAO is a wonderful place for rural kids to learn English, play and grow in a comfortable environment. Using a portion of the group fundraising money, we donated funds to cover the re-construction of the schoolhouse. The main problems with the building were that the roof leaked during the rainy season, the conversational classes on the weekend couldn’t even fit everyone inside and the wood beams were beginning to rot. After several days of hard work, we can now say that SCAO has a new two-classroom school, some pretty murals and hopefully some great memories. Here are some photos showing our work there.

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After completing our time with SCAO, we visited the New Future for Children (NFC). Both an orphanage and educational centre, NFC receives much more outside funding and thus, has dormitories and schoolrooms in excellent quality. Rather than spending our time building with NFC, we wanted to use our skills as young leaders to teach, engage and interact with NFC’s kids. We began the day with a presentation on Canada in which they were shocked at the size of Canada, bodychecking being allowed in hockey and multiculturalism. Showcasing our major cultural exports, the kids were incredibly excited to show they knew all the words to Celine Dion’s “My Heart Will Go On.” We ended the presentation by eating homemade pancakes with maple syrup. After the Canada presentation, our girls ran a leadership workshop for over 40 of NFC’s girls. It was great to see the girls interacting with each other, feeling comfortable and not shy as is very common in Cambodian culture and just having a great time. The final program we ran at NFC was a fitness workshop, sponsored by Crossfit Gyms in Toronto. Donating some equipment, Crossfit Gyms’ manager Dhani Oks provided us with some lessons on how to teach fitness while having fun. Here’s some photos to prove how much fun the kids had:

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The great day ended with a riverboat cruise on the Mekong River. Many of the kids have never been a boat before and it was a really fun experience for all. We learned some Khmer dancing, relaxed and watched the sunset. All in all, a great day.

Starting the boat cruiseMekong sunsetLearning Khmer dancingAnd finally, the group had an opportunity to teach workshops on human trafficking and slavery at Pannasastra University here in Phnom Penh. One of the prerequisites for all first-year students at the university, the gender studies class was engaging and enlightening.

Gender studies classGender studies class...with a monk!

As you can see, we’ve been quite busy lately. With only a couple of days left before we break for ITT, we’ll be doing a bike ride to Mekong Island, going to Tiny Toones (the hip-hop orphanage) and much more.

Until next time,

The SE Asia Discovery team