Although all schools and community centres in Cambodia were forced to close in March 2020 for the duration of the Covid-19 pandemic, and look unlikely to reopen until 2021, Treak Community Centre has continued to offer support to their community in many ways, ranging from online teching and the distribution of work to their school students, to sharing seeds and teaching local people how to grow their own food. The remote support they are receiving from volunteers is proving invaluable.
Our local partner in Cambodia says:
With Covid-19 closing schools and making international travel virtually impossible, the teachers at Treak Community Centre have been trialling online classes for our students in addition to producing and handing out worksheets each week.
A key component of these activities has been the help we've received from volunteers who have been unable to travel to Cambodia and who have connected with our staff and students through a variety of online platforms.
These "evolunteering" activities bring us many benefits. They:
1. Enable volunteers to share their skills and experiences with our staff and students, thereby continuing the cultural exchange that has proved so beneficial to all parties
2. Demonstrate that people don't have to be present physically to offer their help
3. Help our students and staff to become familiar and comfortable with using technology for learning
4. Develop our teachers' skills as they have to learn new ways of teaching and working with volunteers
5. Benefit the wider community as we are now getting enquiries and general interest in online learning from parents in the village who hear about our classes from their children
6. Help prepare our students for a post Covid world where we expect there will be less travel and more online working of all types. Interacting online with volunteers, learning together and overcoming the challenges, will be of enormous benefit for our students and staff alike
Treak Community Centre is all about creating opportunities for local people, rather than dependency. The project is ongoing and works to help people learn new skills, also increasing their own abilities, self-confidence and feelings of self-worth in the hope that these attributes will enable them to take control of their own futures. The education programmes at Treak enable local village people to obtain decent jobs, especially in the tourism industry in nearby Siem Reap. These jobs are helping to break the cycle of poverty that runs across much of rural Cambodia.
Treak Community Centre operates the following programmes, all of which are free for the students:
School - focusing on teaching English and IT (around 300 children)
Nursery - kindergarten education for 50 children, especially for the poorest families, encouraging engagement in education
Library - many families in the village don't own a single book and the children are hungry for the opportunity to read
IT classes - basic IT training
Community Support Programme - provides employment, training, and food for poor villagers
Though Treak's main activities are in providing education, as the centre operates in a poor village, they get people in real crisis coming to them for assistance: no money, no food, no baby milk, sickness, family bereavement etc.
Treak offers help through their Community Support programme, of which the main component is the garden programme - showing how people with little or no land can grow food for their families. It's most important function however is to enable people to receive help with dignity as anyone needing assistance has to work in the garden. The project manager, Salin, wants people to contribute in some way for the help they get by working at the centre etc.
Daily Timetable Monday to Friday
Nursery classes 8.00 to 11.00
English classes 8.00 to 11.00, (lunch break 11.00 to 1.00), then 1.00 to 3.00 with optional 5.00 to 6.00
Library 1.00 to 4.00
Staff meetings held every Friday morning for staff and volunteers.
All teaching staff speak good English and will help with translation in the lessons.
The school was on rented land with a 5 year lease due to expire in 2017. After much fundraising they were able to buy some land directly behind the current site and they are building a completely new school on the land that has been bought. This is now a permanent school for the children in Treak village, built of bricks and concrete, which is especially important as the village doesn't have a government primary school. The school consists of a 2 story block of rooms containing 4 classrooms, a nursery/kindergarten, library, IT room, and dining room. There will also be a small office and kitchen. Building started early in 2016 and is almost complete with just one block still to build and some landscaping left to do. When this is completed the rooms currently used for the nursery, IT room and library will move to the new block, leaving a building on the edge of the school site which will be used for community education classes. The school is being built by local people, including making their own bricks.