PAILIN VISIT BY BARRY AND TONI PRYOR
My husband Barry and myself arrived at Phnom Penh airport on the 2/1/2013 to be greeted by Mr Moniroith Vann (Dean of Build Bright University) in Phnom Penh who very graciously offered to drive us to our hotel in Battambang and then onto Pailin to the district of Sala Krao to visit the children and their future teacher Mr Ly Hor to see the progress of the new school being built by SCCFA, that we have heard so much about over the last couple of years through Mr. Richard Lim and Mrs Seda Douglas.
We arrived after many hours travelling by car to reach the school at about noon. The children had already finished school for the morning but stayed on to greet us, these two strangers from Australia.
As we drove around the dirt road, heading towards the school, we could see the new building and all these children waving and smiling at us as we neared the school, with dozens of children also running behind the car waving and yelling at us as they had already been home and returned to greet us.
When we got out of the car we were very surprised to not only have all these children but also have a welcoming committee consisting of, the Village Chief Mr. Touch Toeurk, who said it was his pleasure and more important to welcome us to his Village and to the school than to see the Prime Minister of Cambodia who had come to Pailin that day. Of course this made us feel very humble.
Also, welcoming us were Mr. Phorn Pheap & Mr. Sab Sareth both from the Pailin Education Department. There were also a few other people from the Pailin village and Education Department who made us feel very welcome indeed.
After all the meeting and greetings we finally got to speak with the children with the help of both Mr. Vann and Mr. Pheap who interpreted for us. We gave the children some Koala stickers and lollies and gave the teacher some paper and pens for the children. We found the children to be very shy, respectful and so polite.
Seda had been to visit the school a few weeks prior to Barry and myself and we took photos while there of the progress and she was happy at how the building was going since her last visit. Our hearts went out to the children and we wished we could do more for them.
They really need help in getting the school and the toilets finished along with the water pump, that will benefit the whole surrounding area. After visiting with the children and our very welcoming committee, we were then driven to a High School in Pailin.
We were greeted this time by the Pailin Education Department General Mr. Theara Tang.
He proceeded to show us into a class room where we had question time from the students who asked different questions about life in Australia. We also donated exercise books, pens and pencils to them along with some books with pictures of rural Australia, the city and lots of animals indigenous to Australia.
They were very interested in the pictures in these books and asked lots of questions in relation to them, that we were happy to answer.
Then on the Saturday we were then driven to another primary school to visit more children in class, who asked questions about Australia and we again gave out a few small gifts to the children. We were then driven to another High School and taken up to the library where there were about 50 students and teachers who asked us questions about why we were here in Pailin and asked questions about Australia and asked Barry about his work back in Australia. The students at the High school are asking for donations of pictorial books, books to help them read more about the world outside Pailin.
They are so eager to learn and better themselves and just don’t seem to have the resources to do so.
So I felt very humble coming away from these schools where the children have very little in the way of resources and in some cases the need of a school building, but that is now being addressed thanks to the generosity of the people here is Australia who help by donating to “Save Cambodian Children Fund – Australia”. Also, to the tireless work of Mrs. Seda Douglas and Mr. Richard Lim and all the people involved with SCCFA.
May I say on behalf of my husband and myself a very big thank you to Mr. Richard Lim and Mrs. Seda Douglas here in Australia for helping us with contacts in Cambodia.
Also, a very big thank you to Mr. Moniroith Vann for being our friend, driver and interpreter and thank you to the people of Pailin for letting us into your world be it ever so short.
We hope to return again one day in the future. Awkun Jroen.
Toni & Barry Pryor