Education is not the filling of a bucket, but the lighting of a fire.
— W. B. Yeats
I am, as a rule, not very gregarious; however, I am married to Pam, who is perfectly comfortable approaching just about anyone and striking up a conversation. A year and a half ago Pam and I were sitting in the lobby of our hotel in Hanoi, Vietnam. There was another couple nearby who looked like they might be Americans, so Pam struck up a conversation. This is how we met Peter and Sally Preston from Virginia.
After going our separate ways we have exchanged an email or two with Peter and Sally, and we put them on our mailing list for our Cambodia School newsletters. Earlier this year Peter sent me an email suggesting that I check the website of an organization that works to clear land mines all over the world. They are also involved in working on clean water projects in Cambodia. I followed Peter’s suggestion and contacted Alison Mead, who heads up the organization called Land Mines Blow. We exchanged a couple of emails and then she passed along contact information to Deanna Shimko, who happened to be in Cambodia at the time. Deanna works for a charitable arm of the Wisconsin Conference of United Methodist and she was in Cambodia, in the area of our school, working on projects to provide clean water and hygiene training.
Deanna visited our school and then she introduced Sarin to Mr. Chea Phan who leads an organization in Siem Reap called Teuk Sa’at Organization. This company has equipment for drilling and repairing water wells and installing pumps, as well as building latrine systems and providing hygiene training. One thing led to another and by early October our school had a brand new latrine, with hand washing sinks connected to a nice water storage tank, which was connected to a new pump, which was sitting on a freshly refurbished water well. This was a project which cost approximately $2500 and was funded by the Wisconsin People from their humanitarian funds.
Obviously our thanks go out to Alison Mead, Deanna Shimko, and Chea Phan for their willingness to help the Spitler School, and to Peter Preston for caring enough to simply pass along some contact information. Of course I am also grateful for Pam who walked over to Peter and Sally in a hotel lobby in Hanoi and said, “Hi, where are you two from?”
The middle of September arrived and it was time to return to school. Sarin held a village wide meeting for students and parents to tell them about the school rules and expectations. The buildings were all complete and we had hired a new teacher for our new fourth grade classes. We had also purchased new fourth grade school books and supplies and the new desks that were needed for the additional students. When the dust had cleared it appears that there will be 320 students attending the Spitler School during this school year.
With this many students it is a challenge to provide a school uniform to each of the children. Some of the children’s parents are able to purchase a uniform for their child, but many are simply unable to afford the white shirt and blue shorts. We are grateful to one of our donors, Mr. Terry Lyman, who has provided funds specifically designated for the purchase of school uniforms. It is always a treat to see the smiles on the students’ faces when they receive one of these nice new uniforms to wear.
We continue to have numerous tour groups who visit the school and are generous in their support by providing school supplies and sports equipment. In January a group from the Seattle area will be visiting the Spitler School. This fun-loving group calls themselves the Rainiers (named after Mt. Rainier). Pam and I first met members of this group in 2004 on a trip to Egypt, and we became official “Rainiers” when we joined them again in 2005 for a tour of Costa Rica. We had the pleasure of traveling with the Rainiers again last year on a great safari in Africa. We are happy that our good friends will be able to visit our school in January. We only regret that we are not able to be with them on this adventure.
We wish to acknowledge the following groups and individuals who have made recent contributions to the Spitler School Foundation:
Les and Shirley Hoffman
Deanna Shimko, UM Wisconsin People
Chea Phran, Teuk Sa’at Organization
Elderhostel Tour Group
Also a special thanks to the family of John Boulton Jr.
Mr. Boulton passed away on October 15th.
His family requested that memorial donations be made to
The Spitler School Foundation
Danny & Pam and the rest of the Spitler Family
Daniel Spitler, President
Spitler School Foundation
P.O. Box 730
Peoria, AZ 85380
“Resource Providers for Cambodian School Children” www.dannypam.smugmug.com/gallery/602793/