During the February half-term break, members of Tanglin staff had the privilege of delivering the hygiene packs Tanglin families had generously donated, over to Siem Reap. The donation drive helps to provide items to Caring for Cambodia (CfC) schools. The packs contained toothbrushes, toothpaste, soap and a washcloth all tied up inside a child sized t-shirt. Tanglin students also wrote a message and drew a picture which could be placed inside the pack.
As the curriculum at CFC schools teaches children that 'good health begins with clean water, clean hands and clean teeth', the donation drive ensures that each school has access to the essential items they need to promote long term health and wellness for their students, families and the community. The distribution of the packs continues to be a highlight for the community as hundreds of family members from surrounding villages gather to collect these kind donations.
Along with the packs, staff from across the Infant, Junior and Senior School, spent the break training the CfC teachers and school leaders, many of them accompanied by families who also fundraised and helped with the community projects at the schools. Typical training trips span over three days and start with ice breaker activities. Groups then break off into grade or leadership groups for an intensive and relevant two days of training looking at areas of the Cambodian curriculum identified by the CfC team. The third day involves observing and supporting the teachers, as well as identifying areas to focus on in subsequent programmes.
Jo Osman, Deputy Headteacher Infant School said: "As always, this is a truly humbling experience and we often learn as much from the Cambodian teachers as they do from us, particularly given the very challenging circumstances under which some of them work, without even their basic living needs being met. They are such a resilient and positive group and are making a huge difference to the lives of the next generation."
Zoe Williams, Head of Careers and University Guidance added: "My favourite part is always the people we get to work with, both from Tanglin and CfC schools. I'm amazed at how much we can achieve together when we often have limited language skills. I'm humbled by the dedication shown to develop educational pedagogy with so few resources."
This rewarding link would not be possible without the efforts of Katie Sansom, who has been organising these trips for the last twelve years along with Caroline Rushworth (Junior School) and Mhairi Aluthge-Donna (Senior School). Katie commented: "The teacher training enables me to share my skills with others. It's something that they want and need, and it gives great satisfaction to see their careers inspired." Matt Pearce, partner of a Tanglin teacher, said: "To be such a small part of an amazing effort was great. Watching you (Tanglin staff) all hard at work and seeing the benefits you made on the final day was an inspiration."
In addition to the teacher training trip, through the Junior Award Scheme for Schools (JASS), Year 6 students work together to plan fundraising opportunities and raise money for CfC. They end their experience with an exciting three nights in Cambodia where they apply the skills they have developed during their co-curricular activity (CCA). JASS gives students the opportunity to develop philanthropic awareness and their desire to promote the welfare of others through time or money.
Since October 2018, this year's Year 6 JASS students have shown initiative and drive to see their individual fundraising through. Sponsored bike rides, long distance runs, garage sales and film nights are just some of the many methods used by the children to raise a tremendous amount of money, that has been used to buy the equipment and materials needed for renovation and upgrades, to the basic facilities in CfC sponsored schools.
The students returned from Cambodia last weekend, where they helped on the projects, they made possible.
Selflessness, grit and determination were just some of the traits the students showed when engaging in project work across four schools. They helped lay the foundations to a new path, painted around the gardens and worked hard to break down the thick soil that would be the underlay to a new volleyball court.
The students woke up very early to cook and serve the school children's breakfast. They heard that several of the children walk miles to school and that this would be the only food some may eat until the evening. The Food for Thought programme is often the experience the children report back as being their favourite activity and this year was no different.
Along with plenty of evening time entertainment, the children got the chance to see some of Cambodia's rich history by touring round the world-famous temples with a very knowledgeable and kind tour guide.
"The JASS children were an absolute credit to themselves and returned with memories many will hold dear for years to come. This will have a real impact on children's lives and the Year 6 JASS children should be proud of the enthusiastic, committed and caring attitude they have demonstrated throughout." Oliver Griffin, Year 6 Teacher & Philanthropy Leader.
The value added by these ongoing projects is illustrated beautifully by an incident that occurred as Katie was checking out of the hotel. Recognising the orange t-shirts, the staff all wear, she was approached by a hotel waiter who wanted to express his heartfelt thanks for our support of the charity over the years. He revealed that he had just graduated from Bakong, one of the CFC schools, and was working as a waiter to help fund his next step to university. He could not be prouder of his achievement, against all the odds, offering a stark reminder of how important it is to appreciate what we take for granted and offer help to others who do not have the same opportunities.
Thank you very much to everyone who has donated to the TTS Foundation to help provide teacher training grants and representative awards to help support the costs of these trips to Cambodia.