This year the children from school years 3-6 went on their school camp to Baray Homestay. Baray Homestay is in the Kompong Cham province and was set up by Esther an amazing lady who wanted to help the people of this poor area of Cambodia in health, educaion and job opportunities. She links up with local pastors and in this way can reach into the hundreds of surrounding villages.
The theme of the School Camp is learning about serving others. The children had all been learning about rural Cambodian life and customs so it was great to be able to go and experience what life in the Cambodian countryside is like.
Years 3/4 mainly experienced the cultural things like noodle making, ox cart ride, khmer dancing and pony cart rides as they only had two days to cram everything in.
The Year 5/6 classes did all the above but they went out and did service projects each day. The school sponsors these projects, buying the materials and paying for local specialist labour where needed. The projects they did invovled either building the paving round a village well, building a rubbish burner at a school, teaching english and playing games with the school children and going out into the villages and giving bags of rice and clothes the children had donated.
It was so lovely seeing Phoebe’s amazing photos of the fun they had in the Khmer schools. They were so amazed at the lack of resources. Many school have only a few books to share around and learning is by rote. Children are someties punished if they come to school with a dirty uniform and some families do not have enough money to buy a uniform for each child in the family so siblings will share a uniform. One will go in the morning and one will go in the afternoon. All across Cambodia there is a shortage of teachers so school is either in the morning or the afternoon.
Some of the stories from these home visitis were so amazing and really touched the children who went on them.
At one house they arrived and the family was so overwhellmed by the bag of rice because the previous day they had run out of rice and had no money to buy any more. They had been wondering what they were going to eat when this group of foreign children arrived with a bag of rice.
Another house Phoebe went to the little girl opened the bag of clothes and put on a sparkly dressing up top which Lucia had chosen specially to give away.
The last house Phoebe’s group went to, they were all tired as it was hot and they had been visiting houses for most of the afternoon. They had one bag left and when they looked in it all it had were baby clothes. They were wondering what to do as they had not seen any babies in any of the other houses. They thought the family would be disappointed to only get baby clothes…until they went into the house and saw a young girl and in her arms was a tiny baby only about a week old!
These experiences will be building blocks for their character and futures.
Sometime people say to us (as a family) being in Cambodia mean the children are missing out on so much. Yes they do miss out on lots of things but when I think of what they have experienced in Camp Week here I know that they are richer for it. I love the way they are learning about need and poverty and how they can help. Also how God takes ordinary people like Esther, gives them a dream and uses them to reach and affect hundreds and hundreds of people.
Are they missing out…I don’t think so. 🙂