End of Year Update.

Dear Supporters,

We've added a new, very important page to our website that we would like to share with you: Our Teachers. It introduces our three incredible teachers that are volunteering their spare time after work to provide our kids with free English lessons. 

The lessons take place in the afternoons and evenings during the week and have been split into proficiency levels to ensure the kids are at the same learning level. 

Our teachers take attendance regularly to ensure the students and their parents take showing up to the lessons seriously. Thanks to a generous laptop donation from a donor in Germany, one of our teachers is now able to take attendance electronically. This makes it easier for the teacher to track the students, whilst creating an overview that can quickly be shared with the rest of the team. Thank you for your kind donation. 

We would love to provide the other two teachers with the same privilege and would be delighted to receive two more laptops that you may have laying around in the basement and no longer need. Drop us an email if you'd like to help. 

On behalf of Sarou, we would also like to thank you all for your ongoing donations via GoFundMe. Sarou's most recent purchase from these funds was a bathroom for the children to use during study time, as well as for tourists and visitors to use when passing through the village. 

Sarou is currently in talks with the building authorities to grant us a building permit for the land we will be creating the school campus on. At the moment classes are taking place at the local rest house while we await official approval. Ideally, we would like to be building around this time next year. Due to flooding during rainy seasons, we are limited to building during dry season, which starts in October and runs through April. 

We look forward to sharing our architectural plans, school curriculum and many more details with you in the new year! Thank you so much for your endless support over the past months. We can't wait to turn Sarou's dream into an even more tangible reality. 

Love, 

Hannah & Natascha

 

Natascha Rupp
Ready, Set, Learn.
 

Hello lovely people, 

First of all, we would like to thank all of you that donated to Sarou's GoFundMe campaign over the past month. With your help, we've been able to kick-start free English classes at the village's rest house, where approximately 200 students gather every day to learn. With your donations, Sarou purchased school books, white boards, little tables, a 1000 liter water container, electricity for light during evening classes, and a fence to keep the kids safe from the nearby river. 

One of our two volunteer teachers, Mr. Nimol Hang, teaching a beginner level English class. 

One of our two volunteer teachers, Mr. Nimol Hang, teaching a beginner level English class. 

Sarou has accomplished a tremendous amount of work over the past week. He organized several meetings in Rolous - with over 100 kids, with over 30 parents, with leaders of the village and leaders of the commune, and with a member of the APSARA Authority. The APSARA Authority is the entity that decides whether or not we will receive a building permit, since the land Sarou is donating is still within UNESCO territory due to its proximity to the temples. 

During the meetings, Sarou explained the importance of education to the children and their parents by inviting his friend and work colleague, Mr. Kosal Chet, to share his personal experiences on how learning English has helped him out of poverty. They also took a school photograph of every registered student for our records. After the meetings, Sarou provided all attendees with noodle soup as a thank you for listening. 

Mr. Kosal Chet and Mr. Nimol Hang taking charge of school photo day. 

Mr. Kosal Chet and Mr. Nimol Hang taking charge of school photo day. 

Classes now run four times a day in one-hour sessions and are taught by two Cambodian teachers who are kind enough to volunteer their time. The teachers, Nimol and Kim, check students' attendance every day and are starting to host family interviews in order to provide a holistic and fruitful learning experience. The class at 5:30pm is currently the most popular, with over 80 kids wanting to learn at once. We really can't wait to offer smaller class sizes and bigger classrooms to further enhance the quality of their learning experience in 2018! 

Sarou will be back in the village next month, and until then we will be working on admin-related things so that we can apply for a building permit with the APSARA Authority soon. 

Thank you dear followers and donors for your ongoing support. And thank you Sarou, Nimol and Kim, for taking care of everything on location! 

Lots of love, 

Hannah & Natascha

Our students, volunteer teachers, community memembers and Sarou on the first day of school. Oh, and a piece of plastic on the floor, which we would like to start recycling at our sustainable campus in 2018!

Our students, volunteer teachers, community memembers and Sarou on the first day of school. Oh, and a piece of plastic on the floor, which we would like to start recycling at our sustainable campus in 2018!

Natascha Rupp
There's A Lot Going On.

Dear friends, family, and fellow travelers, 

Thank you for your curiosity. It's been a while since we returned from our first visit to Roluos in Cambodia. A lot happened while we were over there. So we will try to recap it all as briefly as possible. 

First and foremost, we met a lot of people. Very crucial people. We met Greg and Ines, our incredible architects, for the first time. With them, we visited the building site, took photos, measurements, analyzed the vegetation, and brainstormed some initial ideas regarding what we wanted the school and open community space to look like and how it might function. The building site is right next to Sarou's family home in the village - this is also where we stayed. 

Our guest room in Sarou's home. 

We met the people of Roluos. Sarou organized a community gathering, where he introduced us as a team, alongside our vision for the school and community space. The villagers had the chance to ask questions and vice versa. Sarou was kind enough to translate the entire evening for us. It was empowering to receive the support of the Chief of Village and the people of Roluos. We quickly understood that they all share Sarou's vision. We also met local craftsmen and craftswomen, who taught us their skills, such as basket making. 

We met with different NGOs to speak to them about their experiences of working in the non-profit sector in Cambodia. We would especially like to thank Sigrid from EGBOK and Yem from Child's Dream for taking the time to speak to us and share their personal experiences and insights with us. 

We met with teachers and visited existing schools in neighboring villages to get an idea of what works and what doesn't - especially from an architecture point of view. The way classrooms are designed have a huge impact on the way students learn. This is something so small and simple, but something we definitely took for granted, growing up in a forward-thinking school system. 

After five days in the Siem Reap Province, we returned home and began to research the bureaucratic process of not only building, but also setting up and running a school in Cambodia. After some back and fourth, we came to the conclusion that we needed to register a charity in the form of what Germany calls a "Verein".

Library sign in a local school. 

Once that structure is in place, we can open a bank account, fundraise the money we need to start building, offer donors a donation receipt for tax purposes, and all that good stuff. Yet in order for us to officially found the charity, we need a Cambodian NGO in our contract papers to prove where the money will be going. And in order for Sarou to open a Cambodian NGO, he needs to show authorities that there is a need for the school in his village.

Sarou - with the help of his family and friends - has therefore offered free English classes to the children in his village, after regular school hours. Over 100 students have registered and classes begin on November 1st. We are thrilled! 

Now once the classes are up and running, Sarou will invite the authorities to visit his village to show them that there really is a need for a school building and additional education. If the authorities agree, Sarou can found the Cambodian NGO and we can start fundraising. Alongside our fundraising efforts, Sarou will head to the building permit committee to get our building plans signed off. That's phase one for now. 

You could say, there's a lot going on. We've quickly learned to take it step by step, and are already excited about your support anywhere along the way. 

Love, 

Natascha & Hannah

Greg and Sarou on the building site.