Dear friends of Kamboo Project
Some time has passed since the last newsletter. If we were to describe in a few words what has happened at Kamboo Project in the last few months, it would sound like this: The team in Cambodia has managed, with a lot of dedication, to keep all ongoing projects on a productive course and to provide support wherever it was needed. More projects have been added, we have expanded our collaborations, we are making a difference! And we see: Our efforts pay off!
Let’s start with our three core programs. The first is water, sanitation and hygiene. In this area, as in the others, we want to initiate sustainable development. In other words, the schools we support should take on as much responsibility as possible. This also includes the economic part of project management, financing, and public relations. Of course, we know that external support is necessary to move things in a positive direction. However, it is absolutely part of Kamboo Project’s approach that the schools should become the actual drivers of the projects.
When we say “the schools,” we mean primarily the teachers. Over three months, we placed a focus on online training to keep motivation high for the work in the ongoing SHIP, the School Hygiene Improvement Program in our Siem Reap province.
115 teachers participated and not only received training on sanitation hardware, didactics of teaching hygiene standards, and implementation examples, but also exchanged ideas with the trainers on fundraising and local action on their own initiative.
Speaking of exchanging: We initiated an exchange program in which participating teachers visit other schools in the country that have managed to firmly establish high hygiene standards on their own campuses. Seeing what others have already achieved is so much more tangible than any training or education! The example spurs on, and good ideas are imparted at the same time.
The evaluation of what has been achieved should not be underestimated. This is laid down in our guidelines and was carried out in six schools in 2022. A performance review is always an important component if something needs to be adjusted in the course of the project. Sounds like classic management? It is! Kamboo Project is supposed to be successful, and that’s why we use methods that don’t guarantee success, but make it more likely. But the evaluation also has a completely different aspect: the schools, the employees are seen in their commitment and perceived with their contribution. Achieving a three-star rating in the evaluation is also a very personal success that simply feels good. This year’s evaluation committee included representatives of the state school authorities and Kamboo Project representatives. The committee used the government’s guidelines as evaluation criteria. The significance is correspondingly high – as is the prestige that the schools gain from a good evaluation. By the way: All the six school received a 3 Star-rating as a high achievement.
New to SHIP in 2022 were three more elementary schools in Lvea, Soung and Phum Steung. At the start, we familiarized 41 teachers with the basics of the program in a one-day workshop. In the next step, 941 students in the three schools received their introduction to better hygiene during class time.
By the way, this included a large delivery of toothbrushes and toothpaste. This is part of the program in all of “our” schools. We have equipped well over 3,000 students and their teachers this year. Also with small, practical aids: There are now storage facilities everywhere for their own toothbrushes. The nine schools that have been part of the project since it began in early 2020 will also continue to run the program independently. We also held a one-day workshop for these schools, which the 152 participants used primarily to share their experiences. In addition, there are the monthly meetings with the teachers who focus on SHIP. The meetings are always very tightly organized and extremely helpful.
What seems self-evident to us often fails in rural Cambodia because even the simplest infrastructure is lacking. Clean drinking water must first be available, handwashing must be internalized as meaningful, and when children find it normal to simply relieve themselves in the environment, a toilet stall or urinal is initially strange to them. Which brings us back to the fact that hardware is immensely important in SHIP, but perhaps not the core of the program. In two schools, we owe quite a bit of sanitation and equipment to Geberit – we have reported on this in detail in previous newsletters. Maintenance and care of the facilities is the responsibility of the two schools, which we have also visited regularly this year to see if everything is working. It does – and we won’t have to look after these plants next year. The two schools do that all by themselves.
Even our regular supporters are probably not aware of the fact that SHIP as a major focus of Kamboo Project will be phased out as scheduled at the end of 2022 – after almost two years. Hence the intensive efforts of our team on the ground to hand everything over to the schools in an orderly manner. The current government programs have very similar goals; at a refresher workshop for three schools, the regional school authorities at the provincial and district levels were already heavily involved. So what we have built will not be lost! The closing ceremony was attended by 111 teachers and listened to the greeting speeches of the heads of the district school authorities and the head of the provincial health and education authorities. A happy conclusion, sealed by certificates for the participating schools and with good prospects for the future.
Our second focus in the Kamboo Project is on structural improvements to buildings and school grounds. For Phum Steung Primary School, we have worked with the school management to put together a two-year program to create a learning-friendly environment. So far, the school grounds are regularly affected by flooding during the rainy season, and plant growth is difficult to control. There will be a lot to do here. Much has already been done at the Wat Roka and Chea Smon elementary school: since this year, toilet blocks have been available for the first time, an invaluable relief especially for the girls who are taught here. At Anlong Pir Primary School, we have provided the school grounds with a sturdy fence. This provides protection, e.g. from animals that want to raid the school garden, and it reminds the schoolchildren that they should stay on the grounds during lessons.
At Phum Peak 4 Primary School we have started the construction of new classrooms in cooperation with the Cambodian foundation Child’s Dream. A building with three rooms and a small sanitary building with four toilets are planned. New toilets will also be available soon at Soung Primary School. 80 percent of the cost will be covered by Kamboo Project.
Our third focus: school education. As planned, but unfortunately interrupted by the Covid pandemic in 2021, we provided another 152 schoolchildren with bicycles. We specifically selected the children who would benefit most from the bicycles. For some, the bike is actually a prerequisite for regular school attendance. After the pandemic subsided, there was also a great need for school uniforms, shoes and basic equipment.
Equipment for about 150 school children went to 17 elementary school. We again provided 100 families with children in eight schools with large food packages. We selected the families with the help of the school administrators. Another 20 families received large food packages that they were particularly in need of as a result of the Corona pandemic.
We have also done a lot for ourselves. Somalita Keo from our Cambodian team participated in a course for business founders for four months. Somalita also sees Kamboo Project as a kind of social enterprise that needs to be run sustainably and can find ways to get sustainable funding in the country itself. As one of the top three participants, she brought home a $1500 prize for Kamboo Project. A great achievement!
We could still list a lot of things that have happened in and around Kamboo Project in the last almost twelve months. In order not to make it too long, just a short overview at the end. || We dedicated two days in 2022 to a first aid compact course, under expert guidance and well attended by the teaching staff. We set up and equipped a first aid room at Ta Ai Primary School. The funding came through the South East Asia Foundation – thank you! We have supplied nine other schools with first aid kits.
|| The water supply in our schools usually works via large water tanks. Microbacterial contamination is always an issue. In four of “our” schools, professional tests have actually found infestation. We have supported disinfection using chlorine. || We support construction activities in schools, and now also construction workers. Together with Safetyknot, an international aid organization in the field of occupational safety and health in Asia, we have provided occupational safety training for construction workers. || At one school, we helped fence off a pond on the grounds – no longer a danger to smaller school children. || We helped 20 families to plant and maintain their own small garden for food. || Computer skills are also in high demand in Cambodia.
We equipped two elementary school with used but fully functional computer workstations. || Visit from Switzerland: Sarina Bundi also used her stay in Cambodia for a voluntary week as an English teacher in four of our schools.
That was really a lot. But it was also a long year. If you feel like it, take another look around our website, and stay with us.
And of course, we are happy about any donation at Christmas time!
Enjoy the holidays and all the best for the new year,
Your Kamboo Project Team