I know that over the last 8 months I have overloaded my social media with the shameless self promotion of the school we were building but the day has arrived. Hundreds of people lined the very narrow streets in this remote village. Best estimation is that 700 people were on site for the grand opening of The Rotary School of Cambodia. It had a festival type of thing going with street venders selling drinks and candy. When I arrived first thing this morning the gates were installed and tent was erected. I was so nervous just thinking about everything that was about to happen. A new beginning for the two villages and 211 kids would recieve a bicycle so they could get to school. At the dedication ceremony I placed a steel plaque with my mother's initials and dedicated the school to her memory and commitment to education. Your mother is your first great teacher. At this time I want thank every single person who bought a bike or donated money for the build. I have a very special soft spot for the extremely special build team who came with me to hand build this school. Bless you all.
Tuesday, 27 January 2015
Last day of a full work schedule. Today the final touches on a mural at the front of the school, the lighting powered by solar panels was installed,the yard got cleaned up by several people and the 2011 bikes were partially assembled. Tomorrow we will button down the final details. 700 people will attend the opening ceremonies and bike distribution. We had a little party to thank our local building contractor for all their help. I cannot lie that I am a little nervous about the last day. It will be a very emotional day and something the team should be so proud of. It was a very diverse group and we pulled together to step out of our own comfort zones to make it all happen. The support that Maryanne and I have recieved here and at home is so amazing I don't have words for it. The people that stepped up to help in everyway is over the top. I won't bore you with any more of that but tomorrow we need to finish the classroom and install a couple of flag polls. We also need to install a lightning rod that will protect the buildings occupants from a lightning strike during the rainy season. Tomorrows post I am sure will be full of tears of joy and thanks to everyone who helped us along the way.
Monday, 26 January 2015
We have been posting with lots about the work on the school. The reason we are here is for the kids and the future they will have. Everyday more and more kids are showing up at site to see what we are doing and to play volleyball. Today a permenat volleyball court was built and it is awesome! These are the types of thing you discover after you emerge yourself in the culture you are trying to help. I told the whole team to bring soccer balls but found the kids playing volleyball instead.
Sunday, 25 January 2015
Every morning when the four vans make the long trip down the very dusty road we are greeted by smiling children who look forward to our arrival. Some of the team take time out to play volley ball with them. It is amazing to watch and I have really come to look forward to the laughter. We got the first coat of paint on the classroom today and got about half the chain link fence up. The plumbing rough in was also completed today. We moved some of the left over building materials and concrete forms to the back of the property for future use and make room for the 700 guests who will attend the opening ceremony. It was Gerry Pilons birthday today and the team took some time at the end of the day to enjoy some cake and a few cold ones.
Saturday, 24 January 2015
So happy today on all we have done so far. The team was joined by 5 new members today to help drive the project home. We we able to put the fist coats of paint on the exterior and a second coat on the fence posts. We ere also able to paint the children's washroom with some matching paint. The interior of the schoolroom was givin a fial parging coat and the floor was poured all by hand mixing. I had the pleasure of joining Steve from Alternate Power International Ltd to instal a new solar system at a local home so that they can have some lighting in the home and power up some other devices. They were kind enough to donate 10 house systems and a system for the school. It was so amazing to see the people recieve these and how it will change their lives. II think the team has worked so hard that we will have an early day tomorrow and enjoy some further bonding time at a new restaurant.
Friday, 23 January 2015
Things are going well. Communication is difficult so lots of things get lost in translation. Our local builders are used to working their own schedule and not the one I have. I have team on a mission to complete certain segments and nothing will stop us. The fence posts got painted today for a first coat. Looks amazing in our rotary colours. Final parging of the exterior was done today and with any luck we will parge the classroom tomorrow. Installed the septic tank lids with insane amounts of lifting. Everything here is done by hand, machinery is non existent. The team enjoys a beverage or two at the end of our work day. We usually just crack out a case of beer on the steps of the hotel.
Thursday, 22 January 2015
On our way home we had to stop at the side of the road and get a wheel bearing changed. Amazing the place next door was able to sell us a case of beer for our stranded Canadians. After a nice rest for a few days the team is hard at it. Today one crew did some landscaping to level out the rough terrain and another continued to purge the brick walls. A drainage ditch was dug to help with the washroom area and plans were made to layout the kitchen tomorrow. When we arrived back today the roof was on and the front doors were being installed. Another crew worked on the interior bathroom walls. So much happening in a short window. So proud of all the members here who took the time from their busy lives to make this project a reality.