Month: September 2010

Creative Kids in Cambodia

After a week of hard work and fun the project being run by Alejandro Alvarez, Project Manager with Just World International culminated in a viewing by the whole school of a movie of the kids made by the kids.

Fifteen children, male and female, who attend the PIO school at Stung Meanchey, Cambodia had been chosen to participate in this project during which the learned lots about new technology (digital video cameras), editing and making movies. I am certain none of these kids had ever handled a video camera or used a computer before. computers and cameras are not the household items in Cambodia as they are in the West.

They were given ”free reign” to choose what they wanted to film, what was important to them and support to get the shots in the bag. They shot many hours of video which I know took as many hours for Alejandro to plow through and help them put together the movie to be shown to their classmates.

Alejandro told me that the kids were so quick to learn and responsive, with an overwhelming desire to please he was gratified that he had been able to facilitate this process and hoped that it could be continued in some way in the near future.

The classmates had been waiting to see the film and had been watching cartoons playing on the big screen set up in the school yard but their laughs were nothing in comparison to the glee they showed when they saw themselves on the same screen. The laughter and smiles were almost infectious. Even though a few technical problems happened (this is Cambodia) it did not spoil the occasion for the kids.

Each of the particpating 15 children was presented with a certificate of successful completion at the end of the video screening to great applause from their classmates and staff.  They did really well.

The time and investment that went into this project was well worth it to see the happiness on the children faces and I am sure they all send a big  ”occun chyran” (thank you) to Alejandro and Just World International for making it possible.

Quote from Alejandro

” The critical importance of this workshop is that it empowers the youth to show their perspective, and make them participating actors in asserting their own human right to proper nutrition, education, safety, leisure and opportunities in life. This transformative effect not only touches them, but also all the other hundreds of children and the community of Stung Meanchey who witnessed their effort and now see it on the screen. We hope this to be a snowballing intervention, to encourage self-representation and local action while acquiring the critical skill of video documentation and storytelling, to breach the technological divide. Your old camera sitting in a drawer makes a world difference.”

© Ian Kydd’Miller
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Do a Photo Course and help the Children in Cambodia

The Smokey Mountain

The King is Dead, Long Live the King. The Phnom Penh municiple dump in Stung Meanchey, Cambodia closed in 2009, and many may say thank god. This was an horrific place, where the poorest of the poor, eked a living from sifting the garbage for recyclables like plastic, glass and metals. The dump still exists but has been moved to a new location several kilmetres outside of the city and the people who worked on the old dump have not been allowed to move with it. No scavenging is allowed on the new area.2857705044This is certainly good news, in many ways, but what happens to those people who worked as scavengers and now have no resources or skills to fall back on, is their life made better ? Where do they turn ? I am sure NGO’s such as The People Improvement Organization and United Nations Children’s Fund,For the Smile of Child,Pour un Sourire d’Enfant, will do what they can to help, but I doubt there is any central support planned. It is my intention that this be an introduction to a series of follow up articles where I will endevour to find out what has become of the scavengers and how they are surviving without access to the dump.

2856868753_3c0bf1850a_oMany, I understand, still live around the old dump area in Stung Meanchey. Have their lives improved or are they living even more desperate and impoverished existence ? Have those who came from Rural Cambodia returned to their former homes ? These are just some of the questions that I would like to find answers too, but, I am sure many more unanswered question will be raised during the course of my research.

© Ian Kydd’Miller
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Gift Shop Open

People Improvement Organization have opened a small Gift Shop on their school site at Stung Meanchey to enable visitors the purchase a number of different items whose proceeds will go directly to supporting the activities of the school.

Sok Somaly seen here creating individual Khmer artworks which are amongst the items which are for sale. Visitors will be able to buy items of Jewelry, T shirts, silks and other items on a list to be added to.

© Ian Kydd’Miller
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A Successful Partnership

People Improvement Organization have been in a successful partnership with Just World International based in Florida for the last several years.Just World International is a primary long term funder of the work done by PIO.

Maria and Phymean

Phymean Noun is seen here with Maria Newman a visiting Just World International Founding Board Member, a vivacious and attractive lady who has done much to help achieve her daughter Jessicas dream of helping children in difficult circumstances.
Keep up the good work Maria, Phymean and Jessica, without people like you where would the children be, I dread to even think..

Dr Bob Renner returning to Cambodia

Prof. Bob Renner

Dr.Renner and his team of volunteer Dentists will be returning to Cambodia in February of 2011 for two weeks of   ” in the field ” dentistry for poor children in both Phnom Penh and the provinces. His team will be spending 2 weeks and hope to treat many hundreds of youngster with dental problems.

He will be leading a team of 25-30 volunteers comprising Dentists, hygienists and lay people so it should be an interesting visit.

I will be spending much of the 2 weeks with the team documenting their progress.

Maria Newman & Heidi Greene visit PIO a successful partnership

Maria, Heidi, Phymean and Steve

Maria Newman a board member of Just world International and her friend Heidi Greene, the wife of another board member, visited People Improvement Organization today. Maria has visited PIO several times before and was certainly well aquainted with the workings of the organization that JWI support.

Just World International was really the brainchild of Maria’s daughter Jessica, and as I spoke more with her I became interested in the story of its conception and why that occurred. Jessica is a former international Equestrian Champion and her idea sought to link her world of horses and sport with the need to help others less fortunate than herself and others in her circle. She set up a system which linked into the international competitive horse scene which was certainly a first.

The Jump for a Just World initiative ( such a novel concept) was born of a desire to more fully implicate international equestrian competitors and events to support humanitarian causes.

The international equestrian sport, in Jessica’s view,  had been left far behind other Olympic sports, such as soccer, cycling and skiing, where athletes publicly donate their time and earnings to humanitarian causes.  Jessica believed that the world of equestrian sports stands to gain a great deal by committing to charitable initiatives, especially as equestrians across the globe have begun moving beyond an elite image of privileged athletes and giving the best of themselves to those in need.

Jessica aimed to cultivate and encourage riders who want to make a difference in the world around them. By serving as ambassadors for JustWorld, riders are demonstrating that the horse industry has leaders with integrity and big hearts who really care about others. The goal in working with equestrian athletes and events was to produce a ripple effect and encourage others to follow in the quest for a just world. Star athletes influence significant numbers of people but JustWorld’s goal was and is to recognize the professional, junior, and amateur athletes  are ready, willing, and able to positively influence the world.

Jessica Newman with Daniel Deusser
The Kids from the PIO Orphanage

The support that JWI offers People Improvement Organization, being a long term commintment, has helped PIO develop in areas that may have been impossible (or very difficult) such as JWI’s commitment to PIO’s recently opened Orphanage for which I know the children who now live there are very grateful.

Maria Newman with the kids at PIO

Anyways enough of the history lesson and back to todays visit. I spoke at some length with Maria about her travels, her horses and her daughter of whom she is obviously extremely proud and supportive. Her caring attitude shone through with her interactions with the children and she seemed to enjoy her visit. Heidi was in amongst the kids from the first minute and although I had little time to talk with her I enjoyed her funny story about how she met her husband but I will not go into detail about that here.

The continued support of Just World International is essential to the development of services to the poorest children of Cambodia via PIO ,and that this fruitful union of essentially like minded organizations will continue into a brighter future for the children. From what I have seen of the vivacious personalities involved the children need not worry.

The children of PIO maybe do not understand the links between JWI and PIO but if they did I am very sure they would like to say a big THANK YOU !

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