Next year is the 60th anniversary of our club’s establishment, and also marks the fifteenth year for our “Cambodian Elementary School Support Project,” which we have supported continuously since we initiated the program in 2000.
As a result, one characteristic of our support has been a focus not only on the “hard” aspects of school construction and farm development but on the soft aspects of “education” as well, in terms of computer education and self sufficiency through the practice of students growing the school’s own vegetables.
Whenever we’re greeted by the bright smiles of the local children, and see them as they work hard at their studies, we’re filled with the desire to help make even more children happy in the future and want to move forward with this ongoing service.
The followings are a look back at our support project over the years, and are summarized the contents.
■Opportunity to provide support
The program got its start when the Rotary Club of Tokyo West invited Mr. Bernard Krisher, the former head of Newsweek’s Tokyo branch, to be a round table event speaker, and we had the opportunity to hear him speak.
He talked about three problems in Cambodia, namely (1) the shortage of elementary schools, textbooks and teachers, (2) the low literacy rate and (3) the high dropout rate among young girls, and as background explained how, as the result of war, 3,000 villages had no school and conditions were equivalent to education having been systemically destroyed. Krisher further described how, even when schools existed, they were in a dilapidated state, and explained his volunteer work to contribute to elementary schools in Cambodia.
In cooperation with Japan Relief For Cambodia, Krisher’s volunteer organization, the Rotary Club of Tokyo West set up a project in fiscal 1999-2000 to build and support an elementary school in the village of Peam Khrav, Cambodia, which was completed safely in January 2002.
■Support and visits
Since then, the International Service Committee and volunteer members of our Rotary Club have made onsite visits seven times over the past 14 years. (About 2-5 people each time) Through these visit activities, we have been able to understand the local needs immediately by meeting the children and talking with the teachers, and after bringing this information back to our club we have subsequently linked these visits to fruitful volunteer work
■Details of main support activities (1999 - 2013)
1. Elementary school construction (schoolhouse construction cost, cost of study materials for two years, solar panel installation costs)
■Twin Club program with the Rotary Club of Chicago (Rotary One)
2003-2004 As a 100th anniversary project, Rotary International advocated a “Twin Club Program” to encourage participation in public service projects through cooperation between sister clubs. Taking up the challenge, the Rotary Club of Tokyo West contacted the Rotary Club of Chicago - the club that gave birth to the Rotary network - and jointly donated the farm machinery and implements needed at the farm that had been created at the school in Cambodia.
Among the elementary school pupils are children who do not have enough food to eat. We therefore planned a “Victory Garden,” a farm the students would create near the schoolhouse where they would be able to raise crops. By being used for the children’s school lunches, the crops harvested there can encourage many children to attend the school. At this time, the Rotary Club of Tokyo West continues to provide support for upkeep of the farm.
As a new Twin Club Program with the Rotary Club of Chicago, in 2015 we plan to contribute to the children's schooling by creating a library.
Supplement: HISTORY(Chronological Table）
1999.7-2000.6 State Visit: 1 member
2000.7-2015.6 total USD 127,370.00
Rotary Club of Tokyo West