Acrobatics from the schoolgirls playing laot anpeak, the 'rubber band jumping game'
I paid a visit to the the village of Chrauk Tiek this morning, some three hours from Phnom Penh and more than a hour and half into the countryside from the nearest main highway, Route 5. It's what you'd call getting off the beaten track only because there's not really any reason for travelers, tourists, expats, or whoever to go there. Unless you are involved with the charitable organization Sustainable Schools International
that supports the thriving primary school in the community. And that was my destination this morning. SSI have some international students arriving soon and they will be using Hanuman's services for transport and accommodation, so I had to go and see the lie of the land. In addition, I met Kari and George Grady Grossman, the founders of SSI, a few years ago and I was itching for a reason to visit this school I'd heard so much about. I was aware that it took a bit of a hike to get to but three hours was even longer than I expected. Thank goodness I was in a camry as the dust on the road was blinding, caused mainly by trucks ferrying illegally cut logs from the Phnom Aural wildlife sanctuary out of the area. The trucks would stop in every district to hand over money to the various police checkpoints, all in the open, brazen as you like. At the rate that I witnessed the trucks and trailers, loaded to the gills, there won't be any trees left in the Phnom Aural region soon. And no-one is doing a jot to stop it.
At the school, which is a model for schools supported by such organizations, there are nearly 500 students ranging from pre-school age of 3 up to 14 years old. The World Food Programme supports them with breakfast every morning and SSI supplements the salaries of the teachers and staff to ensure the children receive regular and quality education, which often doesn't happen elsewhere. And the children were adorable. I'm a sucker for kids at the best of times but the ones I met today at Chrauk Tiek were simply lovely, the girls were as girly and giggly as you could imagine and the boys were up to the usual mischief until the gong sounded and everyone filed into their classrooms and were as good as gold. They are a real credit to the school and SSI. And now SSI are involved with three more schools in the vicinity. They can only benefit from the great work already accomplished at Chrauk Tiek. Lunch, pork and snakehead fish, was served up by the cooks and the English teacher, and was delicious, as I finished playing with the children, had a quick whizz around the village before making our way back to Phnom Penh, enthused by my visit to a village primary school in the middle of nowhere. Find out more about SSI here
The unobtrusive entrance to the primary school. Ignore the spelling. More laot anpeak games from the girls The school classrooms built with donations by the Grossmans and maintained by SSI A snap of a military truck carrying recently cut logs, heading for Phnom Penh
Labels: Chrauk Tiek, Sustainable Schools International