At the end of April the children of Spitler School returned to their classes after taking a break to celebrate the most important holiday of the year. The Cambodian New Year is a time of celebration when many Cambodians travel to be with their families. It is time of many traditions including the honoring of their ancestors. It is a time to celebrate the end of the harvest season and the beginning of the rainy season.
Sarin suggested that we begin construction on the new 6th grade classroom as soon as possible after the April holiday, because construction is much more difficult after it begins to rain everyday. As we mentioned in our last newsletter, we had a generous donor who provided the funds needed for this new classroom, so we are pleased to share photos of the new Karsten Schroeder Classroom.
With each new building we have been able to add certain touches that make the buildings a bit more functional but a bit more expensive as well. Our costs have increased by about 25% since finishing our last building back in 2007.
The children attending this year’s fifth grade class will be the beneficiaries of the new classroom starting in September, when they will become the first graduating class of the Spitler School. These students stepped in to help clean their new classroom and prepare it for use. Pam and I are hopeful that we can return to Cambodia in 2010 to attend the first graduation from Spitler School.
Because Karsten’s donation provided funding for the 6th grade classroom there were just enough resources left in our general fund to get started on our second project, which is to replace the last of our original buildings from 2006. The kindergarten classroom has served the school well, but its wooden side walls and thatched roof have deteriorated to the point that it is unusable for the students when it rains.
We will be able to use the new 6th grade classroom as a temporary class for the kindergarteners while we rebuild their classroom using a steel frame and brick construction and topped with a metal roof. Sarin is planning on beginning the project at the end of May. We are hopeful that the rains will not be too severe, and our hardworking construction crew will be able to finish this project as quickly as they completed the 6th grade classroom.
While we are sad to see the last of our original classrooms go by the wayside we believe that we are maintaining the original character of the school by keeping single standing buildings, and by having the look and feel of a small village school compared to the long traditional school buildings that are seen in the cities.
We will be purchasing an additional 20 desks for the new classroom. These too have increased in cost and will be $40 each. In the past some donors have provided funds specifically to help purchase the desks, and we are able to recognize them by stenciling their names on the front of the desk.
We are trying to stay up to date on what is turning into a bad Malaria season in Cambodia. Some of our students have been stricken, and even though they can be treated for free at the children’s hospital in Siem Reap, some families have no means of transportation to get the children to the hospital. We have asked Sarin to use school funds to hire tuk-tuk drivers to transport any sick students whose families can’t get them to the hospital for treatment.
Even Sarin’s daughter, Vita, had to spend time in the hospital recovering from a bout of dengue fever. It was hard to imagine lively and pretty little Vita in the hospital, connected to IV’s, and fighting off this very common mosquito-born ailment. We would like to continue providing mosquito nets to the families of our students, since the Malaria mosquitoes are the most active at night when the children are sleeping.
We have arranged for the Angkor Children’s Hospital to send a team to the school in October to provide examinations for our students. We conducted a similar program in January of 2008. We are hopeful that the results of the next visit will show some overall improvement in the health of our children, who are generally healthy but suffer from a number of ailments due to the lack of nutrition and lack of sanitation.
We will plan our next newsletter for sometime this summer and will update all of our friends and supporters on the kindergarten construction and the end of the school year in late June.
We continue to be extremely grateful to those who are still able to make contributions to the Spitler School Foundation even in these very trying economic times. We’d like to acknowledge the following generous donors who have made contributions in the past two months since our last newsletter.
Jerome & Barbara Shapiro
Les & Shirley Hoffman
Elwin & Maureen Paulhus
Lou & Claudine Hopper
We have recently completed posting a number of photos from our visit to Cambodia last November. These photos are available for view at the following website: www.dannypam.smugmug.com – Look for the “Featured” Album titled 2008 School Visit and Ceremony.
Danny & Pam Spitler, Directors
Spitler School Foundation
P.O. Box 730
Peoria, AZ 85380-0730