Caroline and Sven's Geriatric OE 2012 travel blog

Our first room at NFO guest house.

Our new room at Vathanak Guest House overlooking the lake.

Laundry time at the back of our guest house.

Little Po school - some of the 150 children in Tim's class.

School canteen ladies ready for the 20 minute break. Most items are...

Rather large and sometimes noisy pig just outside the classroom.

One of Tim's strategies to get everyone's attention - hands on heads.

NFO tuktuk that brings us volunteers to Little Po each day, a...

Thatched roof school right in the dusty village.

Pumping water to fill the troughs in the toilet cubicles. Large concrete...

We are settling into our life here in Takeo..and enjoying every day with new sights and experiences.  

NFO orphanage (New Futures Organisation) is run by Neville (an Englishman).  NFO also has a guest house about 2 km from the orphanage where volunteers can stay.  We stayed there initially but found the little room very hot at night so have moved to another guest house with a bigger room - fan, cold water for US$7 per night.  Neville arrived in Takeo as a volunteer about 4 years ago to assist at the orphanage, but detected that the manager was siphoning off funds meant for the children.  He confronted him about this and next day discovered he had done a runner, leaving $100 (minimum balance) in the orphanage bank account and 45 children depending on him!

There are a steady stream of volunteers coming and going - we have met people from Belgium, England, NZ, Switzerland, China, Korea, Hongkong, USA, Spain.  Some stay for a few days, others longer.  Neville has a very casual arrangement where volunteers choose what they would like to do.  He has a task board with suggested jobs that need doing, or if you would rather, you can just hang out with the children from the orphanage, playing and talking with them.

Not content with just running the orphanage, Neville has also started up village schools in the afternoons to teach children English and employs a teacher. Some of the older children go to the State School in the morning and come to the village school for extra English tuition.  For other younger ones, this is their first time attending classes.

The children at the orphanage seemed to have lots of volunteers coming and going, so Sven and I have decided to focus our time on the village school of Little Po.  NFO built a thatched roof classroom right in the middle of the village and there Tim teaches 150 children!!  Ages range from 4 to 11 or 12.  

A tuktuk takes volunteers out there each day - a trip of about 1/2 hour.  The first day Sven and I thought we would be able to observe and see what happens but Tim was so delighted to have extra helpers we got assigned a group right away and left to it!  We are teaching the older children who have a reasonable grasp of English.  We are lucky - we get to stay under the thatched roof with a whiteboard and pen while the other volunteers take their groups a short walk away to the temple grounds for an "open air" classroom.  Tim likes to focus on the older children as they will be attending high school next year.

This week, among other things, the children have enjoyed learning - Put Your Right Foot In and Singing in the Rain, they are quite good at Beep, counting in 2's to 100 but backwards is more of a challenge for some, we have talked about their brothers and sisters, drew and acted out some "feeling" words like angry, sad, tired, practised the "v", "sh" and "th" sounds which they find difficult, and looked at shapes (they found this difficult).  Today we are going to try Simon Says (not sure if they know this), read and then act out verbs (washing, reading etc) and attempt an art activity to make and decorate a fish shape.  Have no idea how this will go!! - but that's the fun of it!  We have located supplies at the market  - scissors 1000 riel, a stapler 4000, glue 1000 riel - sounds expensive??  Remember there are 4000 riel to a $!!

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