Last week saw the the 5th anniversary for the Choice Centre, during which time hundreds of local children from extremely poor families have learnt to read, write and speak English. There has also been Scholarships/Apprenticeships awarded, computer training, art and craft classes, hairdressing, sewing and gardening. To celebrate, Choice organised an extra special lunch for the children. Normally on weekdays CHOICE provide a simple lunch meal for 150 or more children, typically a meat and vegetable soup together with rice. For the anniversary, $200 was spent and that allowed for a special curry with rice and baguette bread as well as a canned drink for each child attending. Steve Murray of Georgia’s children paid half towards it, as GCW are also celebrating 5 years of association with CHOICE. The bakery Tous les Jours also kindly contributed additional breads and donuts like they have previously done. So it proved to be a very popular lunch. Ross and Vanny gave a speech to the children, reminding them what Choice does and how things operate, as well as to explain some of the major changes taking place in the early part of 2017. Most notably the loss of 3 classrooms in an adjacent property that Choice can no longer rent. 3 new replacement classrooms are soon to be built in the main Choice grounds. A container is being planned to provide temporary storage and then to be converted into a classroom. Steve Murray of Georgia’s Children, is kindly paying for the container.
Sambo Mathay is sponsored by Caiden Rosenfeldt from Sydney, Australia at US$50 per month.
Mathay was born on the 24/10/15 he lives in the first Village with his parents and 2 brothers. Being a very poor family they squat on the Government roadside in a little 3mx3m tin hut. Education for the children is the best way for the family to get out of their situation. Like his brothers Mathay will attend the CHOICE and Government school to get a good education. Mathay is sponsored by Caiden Rosenfeldt from Sydney since the 23/12/16 at US$50pm.
Art Viroth is sponsored by Maison Rosenfeldt from Sydney, Australia at US$50 per month..
Viroth was born on the 1/09/2016, he has one sister and she attends the CHOICE School. The father is a farm worker, they have no land so the father only gets work occasionally. The mother does not work now because she minds Viroth so the family would be lucky if they earn US$100 per month. They live in a little hut in the last Squatter Village.
Many thanks Jenny, a great painting job and all done in a day with a little help from the staff. Vanny and staff added their artistic display with potted plants in used Formula milk cans. Jenny is pictured with Lyda our PC teacher, and our staff busy potting. We try to make the school look nice and do the best we can on our limited budget.
The local Government Primary School had its open day on the 1/11/2016. The morning commenced at 7am and as Vanny is not at the center that early and I am living in the province now, I represented CHOICE to receive an appreciation Certificate. For those that can read Khmer the certificate names items donated in the past Toilet Block, Garden setting, Printer, Computer. Again these items were made possible through you our donors, many thanks. Some 600 primary students attended, each received donations of exercise books, pens, pencils and 1000r (25c) in cash. Donors were a Khmer/American family, CHOICE and others. Nice to see the toilet block donated by “The Nuggets” Narrabeen Australia and the outdoor setting from Michael Wieland Germany are still in very good condition. CHOICE has a good working relationship with the local school. The Government schools provide free education and about 100 of our children attend this school.
The new CHOICE School year is well underway now, commencing on 3rd October. We have lost about 20 students that have graduated to the local High School. With our new enrollments our School numbers have increased this year to a total of 230 enrolled, now we are turning other children away. Our biggest classes are Kindergarten now 75 children. We have split them into two groups this year. That means another Kinder teacher has to be employed, another classroom and more mouths to provide lunch for. Sokheng our ex student from the first Village has been selected as the new teacher, she is studying at University weekends and with us Monday to Friday. Pictured below are the children some in the old classroom and some in the new kinder room we call “Northbridge House” This is because the room is completely fitted out with donated items from Northbridge School in Phnom Penh. The problem now is with so many children in classes side by side its too noisy for lessons to be heard. We need other classrooms, we cleared an area in August for an additional large classroom being offered as a donation, but that all fell through. So its the same old problems of not enough money to address all of these issues, and no long term western Teachers to help. Vanny has to spend a lot of her time teaching when we need her as Principle and Manager. Any offers of help would be really appreciated.
We wish to thank Mrs. Susanne Floesser from Germany for kindly donating US$600 for the Soy Milk Program. This will be distributed among all of our 250 students on a weekly basis. If your interested in donating to this programs sustainability, or increasing frequency of distribution, then kindly contact us on our website.
Famous characters were the subject of Joy’s latest weekly art class. Superman and Hello Kitty were very popular. Collage and capes were created. Cambodia is full off super heroes and heroines now.
Thorn Sokmee is a girl aged 8, living in Angela village. Her parents earn a meager income by taking care of other people’s ducks. She has three brothers. In her free time Sokmee enjoys reading stories. She is also interested in football. In the future, she wants to become a teacher.
Somvan Chanarith is a boy aged 10, living in No Truck village. When work is available his father does construction work while his mother can do factory work. He has one brother and one sister. In his spare time he likes to watch TV and play football. He has a dream of becoming a Policeman.
Sat Somatey is a girl aged 9, living in Cancer man village with her parents and four brothers. Her father is a provincial tuk tuk driver while her mother sells coffee. Somatey helps with her families small income by selling fruit, something she enjoys doing. Her other interests include running, drawing and colouring. When she is older she hopes to be a flight attendant.
Introduction – 21st July 2016
Thy Srey Pich is sponsored by Gerardo from Spain for US$50 per month.
Srey Pich is 4 years old and lives with her Grandmother in the first Village. Her father gets work sometimes as a laborour and her mother works in a factory occasionally.
She is the youngest child in the family and has one brother. She has no idea of her birth date and many other things. She loves coloring and enjoys her other school work and is learning the English alphabet. She also loves the food we give out for lunch, she is very small for her age and we suspect she has been malnourished in the past.
Srey Pich just got a new set of school uniform in October 2017.
Pictured from left are Mrs. Ruby Wang, Mr. Albert Wu, Ms. Cynthia You (Star Time International Trading Ltd) all from Taiwan. They are donating 8 bags of rice per month from the 1st July 2016 for one year to the Choice Center. Next in line is Angela Tan and Ross Wright. The rice donation is much appreciated, many thanks to this group.
On April 30th , 2016 Angelique Mawson an avid ice hockey player and coach from New Zealand co-ordinated a fund-raising Charity Game for the benefit of the CHOICE Cambodia non-profit Charity.
Over 40 players jumped at the chance to be a part of this very good cause and get out on the ice in support of this charity. Many spectators also came to watch. The team uniforms were chosen specifically as Cambodian colours Blue and Red and the teams were made up of players from the local Christchurch region adults of all ages and levels. The players had a great time and were full of smiles enjoying their sport whilst raising money for a very worth cause.
$USD500 was raised in New Zealand and Angelique visited us in June 2016 at the CHOICE centre to present the money which will go towards school uniforms for the students. Angelique plans to run this event on an annual basis with the proceeds coming to CHOICE Cambodia.
Introduction – 23rd May 2016
Thorn Sreyneth is sponsored by Rob from England for US$50 per month.
Sreyneth was born in April 2007. She has only one younger brother. Her mom lelf her when she was 2.5 years old and her younger brother was only 6 months and she never comes back to see them again. Her dad came to visit her and her brother 3 years ago and never comes back again too. She is living with her grandparents in No Truck village. In the evenings, her grandmother is tasked with preparing food for the whole family.
Every week day, Sreyneth makes the trip to the Choice centre in the Choice water truck. She studies in grade 2 at government school.
Much of her free time is spent washing clothes for her family members. Despite her devotion to helping at home, she still finds time for running, reading and drawing.
A girl who has deep respect for her teachers, Sreyneth’s aspiration is to follow in their footsteps. She may indeed be a Choice English teacher in years to come.
Update – 11th August 2017
Sreyneth is a happy and quiet girl but she becomes more confident and talkative now. Her grandparents brought her to live in another province and she missed the class about a week. Luckily her grandparents decided to come back to the village and let her come back to class. Finally, she still managed to pass her English exam.
Photo was taken in early August 2017
Sreyneth receives a new school uniform in October 2017
Update – 15th October 2017
Sreyneth has passed her Phonics and English exams in Grade 3 and she moved to Group C. She continues to learn more advanced English and Phonics and now also starts to learn computing. She is so excited with her computer class. She is currently learning to use a Qwerty keyboard and remembering its layout and is improving day by day.
Sreyneth is ready for her government school, she receives 8 notebooks for grade 4.
Sreyneth is doing really good at government school. She passed grade 3 and moved to grade 4 this year.
Sreyneth was very happy to receive a pen and a pencil – November 2017
Sreyneth is becoming an expert with Qwerty keyboards, she can type in English without looking at the keyboard and now she is learning how to type Khmer language by using English keyboard. She has to memorise which English letter represents each Khmer letter. A challenging skill to learn but very useful for her – 9th February, 2018
Sreyneth and her friends had an amazing day at Safari Phnom Penh – 25th May, 2019
January 2021. Neth has now reached grade 7 at her government school, which means she now attends there for the whole day. Whenever a Choice student reaches grade 7 they no longer have a half day spare to attend Choice school, so that’s when they leave Choice. Neth has been a top student at Choice.
We still provide transport support for her to government school and medical care for her and family. If at anytime she wants an apprenticeship we would help her, if she passes year 12 we would like to provide a scholarship to advance her career, this is what we like to be able to do. “KINDER TO CAREER”.
Since officially leaving Choice, Neth has had few odd days recently when she is unable to go to government but instead took the opportunity to visit Choice and join a class.
Many thanks to specialized teacher Amy Lyall and Adam Parker from England, both have volunteered their services to CHOICE for a month. Pictured below is Amy giving Phonics training to our Khmer staff, Dara is in attendance as well. The Khmer staff have given their time to CHOICE as today, Friday 20th May is a Public Holiday.
Introduction – 8th May 2016
Lily Pheab is a charming little girl aged 4, she wins every ones heart. She was originally sponsored by Richard Jones from Wales at US$50 per month. He started on 1/08/2014 and finished in March 2016. Lory and Max from Italy have taken over this sponsorship from April 2016.
Lily with her new school year uniform, October 2017.
Lily just passed her English final exam and now she is in grade 1.
Lily receives a new notebook, 21st December 2017
Introduction – 10th October 2016
Rom Reaksmey was sponsored by Tally Edwards (Koren) from England at US$50 per month until the end of March 2016.
Neil Burns has now taken on the sponsorship of Reaksmey from the beginning of July 2016.
Reaksmey is one of the poorer students from our Cancer Man village. She is 12 years old. In her free time, she likes reading books and drawing. Her favorite sport is running. Her favorite subject is English. She always comes to Choice on the water truck. Her parents are casual construction workers. She has two sisters and one little brother. She is in grade 4 at the government school and is in grade 1 at our Centre. She really loves studying at Choice and she wants to be an English teacher at Choice in the future.
This is Reaksmey in her new school uniform that was made at the Choice centre and given to her in early May 2016.
This week the Choice students from the poor villages received a school uniform set each. This twice-yearly event is much appreciated by the students as the photo below shows.
The uniforms were made last year at the Choice centre, by the sewing ladies in the sewing room, before it was converted into a library.
Choice students turned up in big numbers to attend the end of Khmer year party. The day began with a blessing from monks who came to the Centre. Customary eating games and musical chairs were hotly contested, as was last year’s favourite – blindfold vase breaking. New games Splat the rat and duck fishing were among other highlights. A delicious curry and bread lunch was served giving the kids the energy needed for the afternoon dance session. A big thank you to all who helped make this happen today.
News story, video and photos by Dara
Special thanks to Joy for paying for all the soft drinks
The tires of the Choice truck have recently been changed and the old ones have not been wasted. Volunteers have transformed them into heavy duty flower pots. These flower pots will help the plants inside them survive the wet season flooding. They are being planted with plants such as aloe vera that are suitable for the local environment.
Update August 2016: Tire plant pots and plants are surviving the wet season flooding very well. Dara is keeping an eye on them too.
Terry from Wheelies Bikes in the UK, visited the Choice center last year and kindly shared his extensive knowledge of bike mechanics with boys Sok Long and Sing Lee.
This year he is back again (4th March 2016) and has kindly done another workshop, this time with boys Mengly (in red top), Kimsour and Narin.
There are quite a lot of bicycles at Choice these days, as many bicycles have been donated to the children. Not surprisingly some are now in need of a bit of TLC (tender loving care). Four bikes in need of repairs were used by Terry to teach repair and maintenance skills with the 3 boys.
Well done again Terry. We hope to see you again next year for workshop number 3 🙂
Friday 19th February was the beginning of a new life for Siengley Din from the middle Village. He begins an apprenticeship as a Sewing Machine Mechanic in Phnom Penh. The business sells and repairs sewing machines. Siengley is sponsored through CHOICE by Lory and Max from Italy February 2016. We hope he succeeds, he is a gentle boy with a charming nature and well deserves this opportunity.
Khom Chenda is sponsored by Neil and Jenny Hamlin and their daughters Jessica and Holly from New Zealand for US$50 per month, since February 2015.
Chenda was born in September 2002. She has been studying at Choice since 2012. She has 4 brothers and 3 sisters. Chenda is the 5th child in her family. She lives in the “No truck” village.
Chenda likes reading, drawing, running and swimming. In the future she hopes to be an English teacher and would like to teach at the Choice Centre.
Chenda wrote a letter to her sponsors in Khmer. Her teacher then translated it in English.
Below photo of Jenny and Neil Hamlin with daughters Holly and Jessica.
Update 2017 – Chenda now attends government school full-time as she has now reached Grade 7, rather than just half a day for Grade 6 and below students. Therefore she is no longer able to come to the Choice Centre for the half day she previously had available.
Many thanks to Angelique Mawson from New Zealand, she is running an Ice Hockey tournament and donating the money raised to CHOICE Cambodia.
If you are in New Zealand on the dates indicated please try to be a spectator or player and support a most worthy cause.
Ratanak has moved on to new employment, Ratanak has been with us for 7-8 years and has been a tremendous help.
Ratanak was offered a job with better salary expectations, he was due to finish with CHOICE at the end of January but suddenly called up earlier by his new employer so we did not have a chance to provide a better good bye celebration with all the staff and regular visitors. His skills have improved so much since he first joined CHOICE and with much better opportunities now days its hard for us to match salaries being offered. At the same time we don’t want to hold our friends back from a good opportunity. Good luck Ratanak from us all and we hope you do well in your new position.
Introduction – 18th January 2016
Soem Sreynoy is sponsored by Gerado Flores from Spain at $50 per month:
Soem Sreynoy is 6 years old and studies in the CHOICE Center kindergarten. She was born in February 1st 2010 being one of twin girls. Sadly her twin sister died of the plague that swept Cambodia “Hand, Foot & Mouth” when she was 2 years old. There are 3 remaining siblings one boy and one girl Sreynoy being the youngest.
Her father is a fisherman and her mother is a factory worker, another cousin (Srey Peck) lives with the family as does the Grandmother and Grandfather.
Sreynoy wants to be a Teacher in the future, in her spare time she likes to read and color pictures.
Update – 11th August 2017
Sreynouy has just passed her English Alphabet test and moved to grade 1 from kindergarten. She is very happy with her new friends and she said she will try her best to pass the next level exam.
Sreynoy just passed her grade 1 English and phonics final exams in August 2017 and she is now in Grade 2.
Sreynoy just got a new set of school uniform,October 2017.
Sreynoy has reveieved a new pair of shoes – 5th December, 2019
Sreynoy and her friends are really enjoying to play at the new school- 10th June, 2019
Rob from the UK has donated two well needed UPS battery back up units for use with Choice desktop computers, wifi routers and old laptops with worn out batteries. They cost $34 each from PTC computer shop located near Central Market.
There are many power outages at the Choice Centre, typically just a few seconds long but that’s enough to cause havoc with the computer equipment.
John from America recently visited Phnom Penh in Cambodia for the first time. He bought a cheap second hand bicycle for $35 from St 107, near St 182. This proved to be a convenient and fun way for him to explore Phnom Penh and avoid the costs and hassles of using motos and tuk tuks all the time. Then when he left, he donated it to Choice to be given to one of the kids. So that worked out well for both him and Choice. Thanks John.
Sambart Noa is a 5yo boy and was born blind on 10/07/2009, we have placed him in Krousar Thmey a school for the blind. His sponsorship costs are more than the others as he boards in at the school from Monday to Friday. There are fees and transport costs to get him to and from school weekends, a long way. In order to cover these costs Sambart has more than one sponsor.
On 1/11/2016 the first day of school this year Vanny took him in the Minibus as there were forms and fees to pay. Sambart now 7yo has commenced his third year and doing very well at Krousar Thmey, School. His Year starts on 1st November and finishes 30th September.
During the year Sambart has been ill several times requiring visits to the Doctor. He was a little naughty first year but has settled down now, he is very good now at school and at home on weekends.
Some quotes as he never stops talking:
“Mummy, why am I blind and the other children can see”
“I want to be a construction worker when I am older”
“I want to see just how fast the minibus is going”
“I want to look after my Grandma and cook her meals”
“I love my school it has better food and I love my teacher and more fun, I am the best football player”
Sambath got a new set of school uniform .
Introduction – 25th January 2016
Khorn Mengly is sponsored by Craig and Rachel Ray and son Myles from New Zealand for US$50 per month.
Mengly is a 12 year old boy who lives in a poor village. He currently lives with his grandma because it is a bit closer to the Choice Center than his parent’s house. He has been studying at Choice for 3 years. His favorite subjects are English and computer studies. He likes to read story books. He helps look after a small cow for his grandma. In the future, he wants to be a policeman. He wants all the people around him to have good security, so he will look after them well when he becomes a policeman.
Mengly has received one of the donated bicycles and recently took part in a bicycle mechanics workshop.
Mengly and friends say Happy New Year to his sponsor Myles.
Introduction – 18th August 2015
Yorn Chanthou is sponsored by Noémie and Pascal Mettaz from Switzerland at GBP37 per month:
Chanthou is the youngest member of the family, she has 2 brothers and 3 sisters. Chanthou thinks she was born in 2005 but not sure when. This is not uncommon to know when you were born as often no records of the birth are kept in Cambodia. They live in the last or furthest Village from the CHOICE Center, her parents are farmers and get occasional work in the rice fields.
Chanthou also uses the CHOICE truck for transport to and from school and attends Government school as well. She loves school and works hard and wants to be a Doctor. Her hobbies are painting and she also loves to swim.
Updated – 23rd May 2016
Chanthou has recently received a new school uniform from CHOICE. She is happy and doing well at both Government and CHOICE schools. She attends school every school day, below is a current photograph.
Updated – 24th May 2017
Chanthou has past her last English exam with an good result 30/35 in April 2017. She is a regular student and tries hard at her work always completing her homework and is very well behaved in class.
Update – 11th August 2017
Chanthou is not so shy as before and she always tries her best in class . She passed her English and Phonics exams and moved to the next level last week. She was very happy with her exam result 80%.
Chanthou is in her Art class.
Update – 24th October 2017
Chanthou receives her new school uniform
Update – 8th November 2017
Chanthou receives 10 notebooks for her grade 5 at government school.
Chanthou is doing really good at government school. She passed her grade 4 and moved to grade 5 this year.
Chanthou is in Computer class – 9th February, 2018
Chanthou is becoming an expert with Qwerty keyboards, she can type very fast in English without looking at the keyboard and now she is learning how to type Khmer language by using the same English keyboard. She has to memorise which English letter represents each Khmer letter. A challenging skill to learn but very useful.