The librarians (14 members), Prahut village (20 members), Kouks Rama village (15 members) and Kouk Snoul village (17 members). Of the total of 66 members, 57 are women!
During our meetings with the saving groups we also gave instructions on how to plant rice, raise chickens and on home gardening. As a result, two members of the ‘Prahut’ group started to raise chickens and already earned some money with this. Other members of the same group, as well as most members of the ‘Kouk Srama’ group, now grow vegetables in their garden. These small, but active groups may very well be the pioneers whose example will be followed by many. More about this programme: http://www.childsdream.org/index.php?id=189&tx_ttnews[swords]=igp&tx_ttnews[tt_news]=198&tx_ttnews[backPid]=103&cHash=d3e2e72fa6
Singh is a small village founded around 1920 in the Koukmon commune in Oddar Meanchey province. It is situated around two kilometers from the western border of the province and 18 kilometers south of the Thai-Cambodian border. A flat landscape surrounds the village and there is a small lake (one by two kilometers) nearby which provides the villagers with water and fish.
During the regime of the Khmer Rouge most villagers were allowed to stay and live in their own homes but were forced to work in other villages. After the end of the Khmer Rouge regime, fighting went on between four Khmer factions until 1998, when the three parties that were loyal to the government could finally defeat the Khmer Rouge’s armed forces. Because of the ongoing fights, some villagers left their homes and their houses were burned down by the soldiers. Until today, the whole district refers to Singh as the “battle field”.
Some 140 families, around 660 people in total, live in Singh village as of mid-2009. Their main occupation is farming. Some villagers earn money by selling timber, making charcoal or as unskilled labourers in Thailand. It is almost needless to say that the villagers of Singh are very poor. Their per capita annual income is estimated at around 310 USD.
In 1979 Singh was the only village in the area that had a school and thus children from seven neighboring villages came here as well. In 1994 there were about 500 students. After 1996, more and more villages built their own schools, offering education up to grade three. Singh remained the only place where grades four to six were covered as well and therefore still hosts students from the entire area, though there are far less in total these days; 270 in July 2009.
The present school, built in 1990 to cope with the increasing number of students, is in a terrible shape. There are now four classrooms (classes are given in morning and afternoon shifts), one canteen and an office and all are made of wood. Termites and other insects have severely damaged these buildings and the canteen even collapsed in 1991. The villagers rebuilt it, using the same wood! Another building was badly damaged by a storm in 2009. Today, all buildings have to be considered as highly unsafe and are evacuated every time there is a storm and during heavy rainfall.
It is clear that the school needs to be rebuilt and extended. In the coming academic year there will be over 300 students. Four classrooms for that number of children is not an acceptable situation, even more so because there are six grades. In addition, a clean environment will help to improve the students’ general health. Child’s Dream has agreed to support the construction of a new school with six classrooms and new toilets. We will also renovate the fence around the school compound and provide new furniture for all the rooms.
The school committee and the villagers will participate by providing free labour to prepare the construction site, they will renovate the fence, report to us on the construction process and they will take care of the maintenance of the buildings.
Teaching material and teachers salaries are covered by the government and the World Food Programme provides breakfast for all the students.
The construction is planned from September 2009 to February 2010