In April 2013 a team of 9 visited the school and spent 3 days with the teachers and children. The team members were Jen Spoor, Marisa Robertson, Gail Davis, Susan Watkins, Jennifer Berry, Paul Smith, Alex Smith and Prue Smith. Prior to leaving Australia an appeal for sponsorship for individual chalkboards to be given to the children had been very successful thanks to so many wonderful supporters. Each sponsor was given a tag to put their photo/message on – these tags were then laminated and attached to each chalkboard so that the children could feel a connection with the person who had made the chalkboard dream possible.
This appeal was so successful that many other items were purchased to take to the school – brightly coloured bucket hats with the Steps with Hope logo were a great success with the children (with the boys often choosing the pink hats!) and it was delightful to be in the new playground with the children and seeing a mass of colour. I thought back to our first visit in 2010 when the school was in rented rooms with no colour on the walls, no chairs and tables in one classroom, no uniforms and very few resources to work with. There was no comparison to what we witnessed in 2013 – a lovely school with colour, craft, wall hangings, play equipment, some impressive maths being attempted and a sea of extremely happy children’s and teachers faces.
We spent 3 days helping run craft including making masks, flowers and dolls. Prue, Alex and Dad Paul spent lots of time with the children skipping (30 lovely skipping ropes kindly donated by Jennifer Berry’s dad), playing soccer and hopscotch and generally cementing wonderful friendships despite the language differences. We had planned to cover some windows with a covering to prevent so much sun coming in but when we realised that the better option would be retractable awnings some measuring was done and following a quote, the work given the thumbs up. So we should see those lovely awnings soon! The new fence not yet completed serves as a boundary to the land which we have leased for 10 years.
Video taken down until further notice contact Jen Spoor for copy
While we were at the school it was very special to observe the children being interviewed individually about their hopes and wishes. One boy who had seen his father blown up by a land mine in 2010 (see story under 2010 newsletters) wanted to be a doctor so that he could fix people. Another boy whose parents were divorced wanted his Mum. Many wanted to be teachers which apparently have the same standing as a doctor in their community.
Our teachers, Throl, Mohm and Roth are doing an amazing job and I was particularly thrilled to hear Mohm’s great improvement in speaking English – something she now teaches in her spare time to the village children! Daily hot meals are provided by the cook and the whole project overseen by Sopheb and Tat. Something that saddened us greatly while we were there – Sopheb the project manager has a baby who is gravely ill in ICU in Bangkok suffering from Leukemia. His name is Gideon. She told me he is a fighter just like Gideon in the Bible. We all felt so moved we donated to help towards his treatment but at this stage the outcome is uncertain. Prayers and thoughts are needed and appreciated. We will keep you updated. We are planning another trip in 2014 – if anyone is keen on joining us I am looking for expressions of interest. Please contact me on email@example.com for more information.