[Posted by Matthew]
Last night was our farewell dinner with SeeBeyondBorders, the teachers and project group. A wonderful evening, but just where did the week go?
We ran a sports workshop one morning, and these kids are no less enthusiastic playing ‘What’s The Time Mister Tiger’ than I was with neighbourhood friends all those years ago. Being the tiger I kind of noticed my age, only managed to catch one kid in three attempts! We ran four stations, one for balancing, basic throwing, more advanced throwing and kicking, whilst another couple ran an art workshop, rotating the students through each. It was almost a race in the hot sun, who would tire first, volunteers or kids. I think we know the answer to that one.
The Circus was also in town; in fact it’s here permanently. The performers are kids between the ages of 12 and 17, and what a performance. Bending bodies, incredible balance and strength. If any readers visit Battambang, this is a must see. Come to think of it, maybe one of the kids we put through the sports workshop will one day perform here and go on to great things – two of the performers were recently awarded scholarships at a performing arts college in Montreal.
Onto our final day; our task was to teach kids about health, in particular the importance of hand washing and tooth brushing. We also measured and weighed each kid to check on their progress in the last six months. I was stationed, brush in hand, demonstrating how to clean teeth. Some students were pretty good, some were tentative, and some looked at a tooth brush as an alien object … My own teeth were very clean however after a dozen demos. Whilst the entire week was rewarding, this was an incredibly special morning.
And then back to where it all started; Sdey Leur for lunch and a meeting with School officials from our cluster, teachers, community leaders, parents and I think someone from the Ministry of Education. Lots of speeches, lots of thanks and wishes that more can be done. My takeaways from this; teachers were able to raise the issue of absenteeism and parents committed to playing their part in getting their kids to school more often and, secondly, that SeeBeyondBorders is engaged and playing a valuable role in the community. I heard the comment that other NGO’s spend money, but that SeeBeyondBorders is here so the money is spent in the right way for the benefit of the community. So any volunteers out there looking for a different way to spend some time, check these guys out … You won’t regret it.