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School House Report – June 2007

It has been a fun and exciting three months since our last report, so Pam and I would like to provide a short update to the happenings at the Spitler School in Cambodia.

 

The children were out of school for three weeks during April for the Khmer New Year, which is one of Cambodia’s largest and longest holidays. It is a time when city dwellers travel back to their villages to be with family, and Sarin was able to take Mary and Vita to visit with his mother.

 

In my last report back in March I mentioned that there was a teacher in California, Lisa Schwartz, whose mother had visited the school, and Lisa offered to get her students involved in providing some help for the school. After a coin drive by the students we were overwhelmed when Lisa reported that the children from Ladera Elementary School had raised $1000. We decided to use their donation to purchase new English workbooks, new desks for our first and second grade classes, and a new slide for the playground.

 


 


 

As of my last report in March we were trying to decide about new construction of classrooms and exploring the possibility of needing to replace our original wood and thatch classrooms with a larger, traditional style school building, which would have cost in excess of $20,000 to construct. The more we thought about it the more we decided we would like to keep the character of the school as it is. Besides the larger building would involve more government bureaucracy and would take much longer. However, the original wood and thatch buildings deteriorate rapidly during the severe rainy season, and we hated to keep investing money into short-term repairs. In the end we decided to keep the buildings the same size, but rebuild them using steel frames, brick half walls, and corrugated roofs, following the methods used in the classroom that was built by the students from Singapore.

 

Once we made the decision Sarin wasted no time in getting started. At the end of April he had arranged to have the old original classroom taken down, and he quickly had the steel going up for the framework. A week later the brick half-walls and the corrugated roof were already in place.

 


 

The walls received a coat of plaster and tiles were installed for the floor. Steel grill work was placed above the half walls so that air can circulate through the building during the oppressive spring time heat, and there is even a sidewalk surrounding the building. By the end of May the classroom was complete and students were helping to clean up the construction site and move into their new classroom. The walls are painted in a color that Sarin tells us is considered a “lucky” Khmer color.

 

 

 

This building is the first of the three original buildings that will be reconstructed. The second two will be done in July when school closes for the summer vacation. Sarin is able to accomplish the reconstruction for less than $4000 for each building, which we believe is a great investment in the lives of 260 young students who are eager to learn.

 

For additional new photos of all the happenings at the Spitler School you can go to our 2007 album located at: http://dannypam.smugmug.com/gallery/2604770/2 The newest photos begin on Page 2.

 

For a look at all of the school albums you can click on the following link: http://www.dannypam.smugmug.com/Spitler School Project – Cambodia

 

Sarin, Pam and I, and all the children of Ang Chagn Chass send special thanks to the following people who have made donations to the Spitler School Foundation during the past six months. We wish you all a very happy and safe Memorial Day Weekend.

 

Lex Latkoviski

Larry and Pat Curd

Lindsey and Kyle Spitler

Rae Spitler

Dan Murphy

Robin Murphy

Susan Galliher

Lou and Claudine Hopper

Irvin Spitler

Sharlynn Mar

Les and Shirley Hoffman

Bob and Betty Rosa

Carlye Schwartz

And

The Children of Ladera Elementary School

 

 

Spitler School Foundation

P.O. Box 730

Peoria, AZ 85380

501c3 – Non-Profit Charitable Foundation

EIN #20-8085411

School House Report – March 2007

There are some exciting things happening at the Spitler School in Cambodia.

When I sent my last report on Christmas Eve there were 20 students from the University of Singapore building a new classroom at the school, helping the students with their English, playing soccer, and even helping the children to plant a garden.


At the end of the project the students performed a nice dedication ceremony where the students from Singapore performed cultural dances from their country.

Here is a photo of the new building which was placed alongside the library. The building does have a concrete floor, and while the students were constructing this building they added a concrete floor to one of our other classrooms as well.

In February we authorized Sarin to purchase some playground equipment for the school and this equipment just arrived two weeks ago. As you can see it was enthusiastically welcomed by the children.

The equipment included a set of swings, see-saws, and a slide. As an illustration of the value of the American dollar in Cambodia we were able to have all this equipment fabricated for under $600. We are trying to introduce an element of fun into the school, since most of the children exist in such impoverished conditions they rarely have an opportunity to enjoy these kinds of activities.

We continue to have regular visits from tourist groups. Elderhostel groups continue to visit our school, bringing supplies and gifts for the children. We have heard that a future group plans on doing a “hands on” project during their visit. One of the last groups to arrive did so by the local motorcycle taxis called Tuk Tuks. Hopefully the roadwork that we financed last year will result in greater accessibility to tour buses.


We are continually looking at ways to provide the children with clean drinking water, which is a major cause of health problems in Cambodia. There are some inexpensive filtering systems now available which we are looking into. We have installed one of the systems at the school.

We would like to investigate the possibility of making these systems more readily available to our students and their families, along with some education about the need to protect the children from drinking polluted waters. We would also like to explore the possibility of providing some nutritional supplements to the children while at school. This could be in the form of milk products or some other source of good protein.

Other things on our “wish list” would include the purchase of computers for our library. These could be used as a resource for our teachers and to familiarize our older students with computers. We are providing information to a Rotary Club in Los Altos, California about the needs of the school. One of their members visited the school with an Elderhostel tour last year and is proposing that his club provide some financial support to the school with (hopefully) some matching funds from Rotary International.

One recent visitor to our school left a nice donation with Sarin as she and a friend passed through Cambodia on their way to Vietnam. When she returned home she told her daughter about our school. Her daughter teaches fourth and fifth grade classes in California, and we have been corresponding with her about ways that her classes might provide some assistance to the children at our school.

We continue to be surprised and grateful at the interest and generosity that our little school is receiving.

We were also excited and pleased that one of our generous school donors visited Cambodia this month and spent some time at the school. Lex Lakovski, has been a good friend since we went through a men’s weekend adventure back in 1999. Lex is living one of those dreams that so many of us have had, by taking a few years off and knocking around the world. He visited the school and spent some quality time with our kids and teachers, while exploring all of the temples around Siem Reap.


We believe that our next major project will be to replace one of the older wooden and thatch classrooms with a larger brick and mortar building which will give us the capability to handle up to 500 students. We anticipate adding another 50 to 60 students per year as we continue to add grades four through six over the next three years until we are offering kindergarten through sixth grade classes. We anticipate the cost of the building will be about $20,000.

We have added two new albums to our gallery at: www.dannypam.smugmug.com. We have reconstructed the website into categories with one category devoted to the School Project. From the home page you can click the icon for “Spitler School Project – Cambodia” and you will then see the various albums, which are dedicated to the school project. If you would like to go directly to our latest photos you can access them in our 2007 album located at: http://dannypam.smugmug.com/gallery/2604770

Once again, Pam and I wish to say thank you to all of our generous supporters and for your continued interest in the project.

Spitler School Foundation

P.O. Box 730

Peoria, AZ 85380

501c3 – Non-Profit Charitable Foundation

EIN #20-8085411

School House Report – December 2006

I thought that Christmas Eve might be the perfect time to give you a report on the Cambodia School Project. This is because Pam and I are receiving a very special Christmas gift from a group of students from Singapore. As I am writing this letter a group of young people from the University of Singapore’s Science Club are camping out at the Spitler School while they construct a new classroom for our students.

 

 

The students are spending Dec. 21–29 working on the new classroom as well as working with the students and teachers on their English skills. The Science Club raised their own funds to purchase the materials for the building and for their travel expenses. They call their work at our school “Angel Project 8”, which we think is a very appropriate name.

 

While the university students were working at another school, during the middle of the month, they sent an advance crew to set the foundation and pour the concrete floor for the new building. It is located just to the right of the Irvin Spitler Library, which was completed in the spring.

 

 

When the Singapore students arrived they went right to work to complete the building’s walls and interiors. They also mixed concrete to pour a cement floor in one of our two existing buildings, which still have dirt floors. They also began working with the children on their English skills, and it looks like they are also teaching them some new games outside of the classroom.

 

 


 

We are looking forward to more exciting reports on this project as the volunteers will be working for several more days.

 

This is one of several projects that we have undertaken with Sarin over the past six weeks. We also authorized Sarin to use some of the school funds to construct a culvert and a dirt bridge, which will link the school building to the village and allow the children to get to school without having to wade through the water (probably polluted) that fills up the low spaces around the school during the rainy season.

 

 

As a help to the village, as well as the school, we gave Sarin the OK to hire about 30 people from the village to dig drainage trenches along 1100 meters of roadway leading into the school. The road becomes almost impassable during the rainy season. This makes life very difficult for the villagers, and it is also almost impossible to bus in the tour groups who seem to enjoy visiting the school. The trenches can also be used to help divert water to the meager crops being grown by the villagers. Of course the little bit of wages we paid to the workers provided some income for some of the poorest villagers.

 

 

 

We also provided funds to send five of our six teachers to an academy in Siem Reap where they will go to classes, part time, for three months to improve their English skills.

 

 

 

Finally, I am happy to announce that we are ready to establish the Spitler School Foundation, which will be a non-profit 501c3 charitable organization for the ongoing support of the Spitler School. For those of you who have contributed in the past, or expressed an interest in being apart of the project, your contributions can now be made out to the Spitler School Foundation.

 

Our thanks do Doug Dunipace and Lynn Olson. Doug is an attorney and Lynn is our long time CPA. Both have been generous with their time to help us through the maze of paperwork needed to establish the foundation.

 

This year we are educating 260 students. We have 50 new children in kindergarten. We have two classes of first grade with 82 students, two classes of second grade with 84 students, and we have 45 students in our new third grade class. If we continue to add 50 students each year until we reach six grades we could have over 500 students in three years. Therefore, we are exploring the possibility of replacing two of the older buildings with a brick and mortar building large enough to accommodate multiple classrooms. This will be a major building project, but with the interest and help that we have received thus far we believe that this may be a reachable goal over the next year or so.

 

We have added more photos to our website entitled “Cambodia School Project 2006. You can go to: www.dannypam.smugmug.com to view all the albums, or if you would like to go directly to the most recent photos you can use the following link. SmugMug – dannypam : Cambodia School Project 2006

 

We will have more exciting news in the near future, but Pam and I wanted to share this report with you at this time of the year, when we are again reminded of how very blessed we are to have such abundance and love in our lives.

 

We wish you all the very Merriest of Christmases.

 

Danny & Pam Spitler – Chea Sarin and family