Then the ones who pleased the Lord will ask, "When did we give you something to eat or drink? When did we welcome you as a stranger or give you clothes to wear or visit you while you were sick or in jail?"
The King will answer, "Whenever you did it for any of my people, no matter how unimportant they seemed, you did it for me." .......Matthew 25

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Hostel in Baray?

Cambodia has developed quite impressively over the last decade, but much still needs to be done in the educational environment. For example, many schools are site on main roads and far from rural villages. We have tried in our own small way to help alleviate the needs to the rural community by building small village schools so that small children do not have to travel large distances just to go to school. But the problem resurfaces when they outgrow the village schools.

Many of the village when they do complete primary level education and seek to go to middle/high school, they have to travel great distances from their homes.

One way we can help here is to establish affordable hostels close to district high schools, for kids coming from these villages. Good Christian run hostels that provide decent accommodation, food, and most importantly, mentoring can go along way in shaping these young lives.

We welcome anyone who can help us build upon this idea. Currently we are exploring with Esther Ding, the establishment of a hostel next to the Baray High School. We think this is very doable and can support perhaps about 25-30 kids from the villages. What we need is some financial support for the construction of the hostel, plus an annual salary for the caretakers.

Let me know if you think you can help.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Floating school construction at Beoung Rial beached by timber shortage

The construction for the floating school was unable to proceed for sometime because of the difficulties contractors faced in obtaining timber. This constraint was largely because of the recent government crackdowns on illegal logging.

But I understand timber is now available again and we should be able to begin construction. We will remit the necessary funds for the work this week.

Sway Teap

There is a village called Sway Teap.

This village is about 4 to 5km from O Ta Saeng. Currently, there is children ministry and cell group at this village. Pastor Kaarl from O Ta Saeng church takes care of this village.

The existing school in the village has only 1 class room and is in very bad shape, looking as if it could collapse any time. This school cannot meet the needs of about 200 school going children.

A well wisher from Malaysia visited the village on a earlier mission trip in November 2009, and was moved to sponsor the building of a school at Sway Teap. Unfortunately some expected funds failed to materialize, and they have a shortfall of about US$18,000. Currently the drill well has been completed and the school construction has begun. Completion date expected to be June 2010.

Please pray that by His grace, funds will be available to enable completion of the school.

Oun Theara

22nd April 2010
Praise God that Oun Theara had a successful heart operation. Your love gift of usd50 has given to them so much, transportation to come for the operation. I will go over to the hospital . His mother called me and could hear of her smailing face as she was so happy that the son has pushed out from the operating theater.


9th April 2010
There is this 12 years old boyname OUN Theara who has hole in his heart. We arranged for him to meet up with the cardiologist and surgeon from Korean to help to operate. We thank God that a few cases in Baray received this assistance.Oun Theara needs some milk supplement/food .

This family is very poor and they could hardly have funds to come to stay in Phnom Penh and to feed themselves.

Could we please help them with usd50 for food allowance and transportation? Could we use this funds from the feeding program fund?

Thank you very much.


Open letter from Esther Ding - SOLAR Ministry

This is an open letter from Esther Ding, with respect to her SOLAR Ministry in Baray.
(S.O.L.A.R...School of livelihood and rehabilitation)

Dear Friends,

We are grateful to God for sending a Chef all the way from Canada to help us to start our Cooking School 101 . We trained 8 High school students and some Solar staff joined in the 20 days course.

We learnt alot about the preparation for Western foods and some Chinese food.
We hope that this cooking school will be continued in another 6 months times with returm of Chef Tan from South America. Currently he has skill development ministry in Bolivia.
We completed the course and looking forward the second intake coming November 2010.

Our main objective is to provide a skill in cooking for high school leavers who will pursue for their Higher education in Phnom Penh. This will help them to find part time jobs at restaurants. So in this way they will be able to take care of their expenses while studying.

Solar Cafe has 13 staff. Our customers are not many at the moment. Please pray for us that Solar Cafe will provide delicious food at a resonable price, a nice and clean place, provide good services.At the moment SolarCafe looks the best amongst Highway stops.We do have the Japanese tourists coming to Solar Cafe for lunches over these 6 months. This is one of our good references.

Khmer Life in Phnom Penh has 11 staff. Out of the 11, 7 are students. This place is a place where students have hands-on training. Students hold different position and manage the shop. We thank God for the new place in Baray, next to Solar Cafe that will be ready in one month time. By then we will move in our sewing ,weaving,wood carving, embroidery and printing projects.
Please pray that we will have more stable buyers so that the sales will increase and this will help us to be sustainable. We will continue to train up more people in sewing . In June we will start another sewing class with a minimum of 10 sewers.

Our main objectives is to recruit the village poor widows and mothers to have a skill in sewing . This will help in their family economy and will help to upgrade their livelihood . Having skills will bring dignity and boost their moral because they will find happiness in their contribution towards the communities.

In Baray we have 5 full time staff and about 15 producers who work from Khmer Life production center and a few work from homes.We hope to have increase in sales as this will definitely bring food to the producers and their families.We need your kind support to buy our nicely handmade products.

Your purchase of Khmer Life products will give the poor a chance of an abundant life. You buy with a good cause.So far we do export some of our recycle rice bags to England and USA eventhough it is not a big quantity. We are very thankful to God for helping to open doors and hope for more markets.

Khmer Village Homestay business is getting better as school holidays in Singapore starting soon. We are going to join a mini Expo in Siem Reap, organized by Mekong Tourism. We hope to be able to get connected with tour companies and other Community-based tourism agencies. We hope to be able to get to know more people who could introduce Khmer Village Homestay to others who want to experience khmer lifestyle in the rural areas. Khmer Village Homestay has 7 staff and some tour guide work as part timers.

Khmer Village Homestay is getting to be known by many. We need lots of help in promotion by word of mouth. Those who has been here were kind enough to put in their blogs and introduce to friends. Weare becoming more specialise in organising for School groups who come to help in implementing community projects .

We handle many Polytechnics, Universities, high schools and primary schools' educational tours. We hope that more will come to experience true khmer lifestyle at our Khmer Village Homestay. We are praying for connections to schools and colleges throughout the world to come to experience and to help the poor and needy communities. The coming of school groups and tourists will definitely bring good things like in aspect of motivating higher education for the rural students, better knowledge of people from other culture, exposure to foreigners, having the good chance to speak English, to proudly present Khmer culture and rich heritage to the world.
We at Khmer Village Homestay would like to bring the WORLD to Baray District, Kampong Thom Province, Kingdom of Cambodia. At Solar Cafe we would like to see that this is a place where the WORLD meet!! At Khmer Life, we show to the WORLD of our rich cultural heritage of weaving, craft making. Khmer artisans at work at Khmer Life production center.

Most of my guests at Homestay will ask me...why are you here 15 years ago? There are only two answers either Esther is a mad woman or Esther heard God's calling in her life to come to help the poor and needy in Cambodia?? This is a very good opportunity to share of God's faithfulness in my life as I choose to be in the heartland of Cambodia. His GRACE is indeed sufficient for me. HE will supply all my needs according to His richest in glory..My favourite chapter in the Bible..Psalms 23. Some friends commented that I am a pampered and a rich missionary. Amen to that.

Making God's Glory known is the ultimate objective of all these programmes which only act as a mean to the end.

I am also helping to network with Churches and friends who want to experience first hand of mission work in the fields . We welcome volunteers to come to give yourself a few days then a few months and a few years in partnership to serve God in this nation.

Thank you for praying for us and your kind support in giving the Cambodians a better life.

To God be the Glory

Dara...Stars in Cambodian language

Khmer Life...abundant life
Solar Cafe..the place where the world meet
Khmer Village Homestay...experience true khmer lifestyle
S.O.L.A.R...School of livelihood and rehabilitation
Station of Life and Refuge

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Only 5%? Seems a lot more than that....

From The Mirror, Vol. 14, No. 662:

The Representative of UNESCO in Cambodia, Mr. Jinnai Teruo, said that Cambodia has made a lot of achievements in recent years in the equity of school registration, the quality and effectiveness of education, and the success in strengthening educational infrastructure, especially the registration in primary schools that increased from 93% in 2008 to 94% in 2009.

“He added that nevertheless there is still no equity in the registration between children in urban and in rural areas. This issue calls for increased attention towards those children, so that they too can go to school; infrastructure should be built for those without the opportunity to receive education who are at present not in schools, so that Cambodia can become successful in the Education for All plan.

"“Mr. Im Sethy (Minister of Education, Youth and Sports) added that ‘Our rate of school registration covers only 95% of the respective age group. That means 5% of the children cannot go to school, as they live in remote areas, but we are planning to gather them to register to attend school.’"

BASP - money matters and security

Working in rural Cambodia presents challenges in different ways.

One is the relatively weak level of formal accounting procedures available for the management of money in the projects we do. While we have been fortunate in that we have been able so far to be able to trust the people we work with - namely Esther and the local pastors, we do recognize that our donors do expect a tighter level of accounting for the financial management of our projects. For this purpose, I have set up an Advisory Committee who will help provide the oversight for the financial management and accounting practices for the projects. While these may not be as detailed as is practiced in Singapore, it does provide some way of ensuring that donors expectations are matched by the utilization of money on the ground.

Another difficulty we are recognizing is that there is a real security issue with respect to the movement of large amounts of money during the implementation of projects of the ground. Here in Singapore we can can make use of electronic resources and operate cashlessly, but in rural Cambodia, transactions are based on hard cash. The movement of large amounts on USD in the form of hard cash carries a significant level of risk. This was made very real recently when Esther had her bag snatched, losing a large amount of money, handphones and a camera.

Please pray for us and the staff in Cambodia, that God will grant us the wisdom in dealing with these problems.

The TonLeSap, Mekong and those dams....

Recently, senior officials from countries in the Mekong basin met to commemorate the 15th anniversary of the Mekong River Commission. High on the agenda were the pressures to deal with 2 pressing issues that affected the Mekong River system - the falling waters of the Mekong, and the impact of upriver dam constructions.

The Cambodians living off the Mekong basin, as well as the Tonle Sap flood plains are obviously concerned. The river waters have fallen. And while the presence of hydroelectric dams are not expected to materially affect the total flow of water down the Mekong unless it allows for greater tapping of waters for irrigation upstream, the dams actually reduce the predictable seasonal fluctuations of river water levels. The other serious implications are the effect the loss of seasonality will affect the breeding of river fishes.

Because of our work with the floating village, we are also concerned about how these villages of the Tonle Sap flood plain will be affected by the increasing number of dams of the river systems that feed the Mekong. Clearly the health and livelihood of these communities will be seriously affected.

I reproduce excerpts from two publications for your reading:

"The water is also no longer drinkable. The village gets its drinking supply from a well, recently dug by a German non-governmental organization (NGO). "It's very difficult to find food to eat," Teouy says. The main diet consists of rice and salt, with traces of fish, meat and wild vegetables when available.

The villagers are used to seasonal fluctuations of the water table and even to flooding during the wet season, but since the dam construction, the river levels have been changing frequently and erratically. Diurnal fluctuations of the water table have made fishing and farming difficult, if not impossible.

The basin's entire ecosystem is in danger, with many varieties of riverine plants having dwindled because of unnatural flooding, and bird and turtle nests having been swept away."

"China’s eight-dam cascade in Yunnan, already half-completed, will significantly alter the timing and volume of the river’s seasonal flows and hold back a significant amount of the silt that annually provides nutrients for downstream agriculture that are critical to food security. This will severely alter the natural rhythm of the river and jeopardize the annual flooddrought
cycle that makes the Mekong the world’s largest freshwater fishery and one of the most productive regions of wet rice cultivation.

The Lower Mekong mainstream dams in Laos, Thailand, and Cambodia, by one estimate published in a December 2008 issue of the MRC’s journal, Catch and Culture, will block the spawning migration of 70 percent or more of the most commercially important species, imperilling the food security and livelihoods of millions, most of them in Cambodia and the Mekong Delta. A more recent preliminary “technical note” also published by the MRC provisionally estimates that if all eleven Lower Mekong dams are built, the population of the main commercial species, will decline by less than 22 percent in all. However, the study notes that the impact will be disproportionately borne by Cambodia (43 percent decline) and Vietnam, affecting populations that are the poorest and most dependent on fish for their protein needs. The study estimates that Thailand will be little affected while Laos may experience an increase of up to 25 percent, presumably because of the expansion of the currently narrow mainstream wetlands.

The greatest downstream ecological impact will be felt in Cambodia’s Tonle Sap Great Lake that connects to the Mekong mainstream at Phnom Penh, and Vietnam’s Mekong Delta. Upstream dams, including two planned by Cambodia itself, will seriously degrade the Tonle Sap, by far Cambodia’s most important fishery and the seasonal “nursery” of many of the Mekong’s most important fish species. The Mekong Delta of Vietnam will also be severely impacted. The Delta, which produces about 52 percent of Vietnam’s rice and most of its aquaculture fish and shrimp exports, will suffer major consequences from the upstream dams, including the capture of vital silt in dam reservoirs, pollution from mining operations, and a large increase in the use of chemical fertilizers and increased effluents from accelerated urbanization and a decrease in natural soil replenishment."