Finance Officer Rith, Volunteer Accountant Donna and A/Director of RCRC, Sophak
In February, RCRC was delighted to welcome our second volunteer from the UK-based NGO Accountants for International Development (AfID). Donna was able to meet up with our first volunteer Matt, in London prior to her flight to Cambodia. The meeting provided Donna with a great early briefing about what to expect in Phnom Penh when she arrived, and gave her an overview of the work ahead.
RCRC, although a small organisation, has the same requirements for careful management of our donors funds and formal grants, as any larger NGO. Donna has helped our Finance Officer, Rith and our Acting Director, Sophak to develop a stronger system of reports, work that was begun by Matt in 2012. Donna was also invaluable in helping us to prepare budgets for planned new projects.
We thank Donna for her six weeks here and hope she enjoys her well-earned holiday in other parts of Cambodia as well as Laos, Vietnam and Thailand!
A new ‘English Medium’ preschool has been inaugurated in Mandur village of Vellavely division on the 18th of January, 2013. This is the 17th preschool of Rose Preschools.
As a result of a load of requests from the parents, teachers and officials of the area, this preschool was planted there as the Sister School of English Language Institute in Kalmunai.
In a rented house with a vast front yard, the preschool was established.
Almost after four months of starting, this preschool shows a promising future in the children’s education.
It has a long menu, with not only preschool education (for kids 3years – 5years of age) but also after school classes (grade 1 – O/Levels), English classes (for kids and adults), scholarship enrichment classes (for grade 4 students) and computer classes (for kids and adults).
At present there are 57 children attending this preschool in which of them 27 are boys and 30 are girls. There are about 60 students attending for the after school classes of English, Maths, Tamil and other necessary subjects.
In the month of March, this year, St.Lawrence Preschool has celebrated its 1st Annual Sports meet with all the students and parents. The fun has not stopped there. The children and teachers with some of the parents went on an excursion in April.
Today, a Computer Lab has been opened in the school for the use of kids and adults.
We hope for the best in providing the education for the community.
Ken McCance of the new Rose Charities Canada SES (Social Enterprise and Sustainabilty) Committee discusses with Anthony Richard, Director and Co-Founder of Rose Charities Sri Lanka over coffee in Vancouver. Rose Sri Lanka is in the forefront in the Rose Charities network in incorporating sustainability initiatives into programs. Such programs include self sustaining health, social tourism and food distribution initiatives. The very successful Rose Charities Sri Lanka Microcredit program continues to exapand and incorporated new applicants with a very low default rate. Some 2500 persons are now assisted though over 2000 projects.
Other areas of focus for the Committe include Rose Charities Vietnam, Cambodia, Zambia and Uganda
We have just returned from another amazing time in Guatemala training further comadronas, (a.k.a. traditional birth attendants). We spent 2 weeks in a small town called El Rodeo in the Department of San Marcos. This town is situated in the western portion of Guatemala in the lowlands, near the Mexican border. We trained 55 eager students, the majority being comadronas who have been actively working, and the remainder, equal numbers of aspiring comadronas and volunteer ambulance attendants.
Once again, it was remarkable to see the students so intrigued by what they were learning. Their desire to learn was palpable! One of the important aspects of our training is for each student to do a real life interview and examination of a pregnant woman, to use their new knowledge that they have learned by using models and role playing. One of our comadrona students asked each of her patients to come to our course so that everyone in the course would have the opportunity to do a hands-on interview and exam of a pregnant woman. This was a huge gift for those who did not have a pregnant friend, sister, cousin or neighbour to join them for the private clinic which we set up as part of our course. During our second week, a pregnant student offered to have everyone watch Ruth did a live interview and exam on her as an example for the whole class. Awesome participation!
The course was very well received and we had a wonderful graduation ceremony to celebrate the students completing the 5 day courses. The mayor of El Rodeo supplied a wonderful meal for everyone present. We heard many times how much each student appreciated the course.
Since returning home, our team has already been asked to bring our course to 5 other towns! Our Guatemalan teammates will be teaching 3 of these groups throughout the coming months. We hope to be back in Guatemala for training of Trainers next year so that we can reach many more areas. We were unable to train trainers this year due to logistical issues. Our coordinator is working on getting everything lined up to do this for next Feb. We were also able to have meetings with 3 other NGOs in Guatemala in hopes of finding groups to collaborate with. One of these groups expressed a lot of interest in working together. We hope to find others as well in the coming year.
We were excited to learn that the Minister of Health has asked for a meeting with our group in the near future and there is a real possibility that our project will be used as a model by other groups throughout Guatemala. Cenaida, our Guatemalan coordinator, is well prepared to make a presentation about our project. This will include the concept of having a registry of trained trainers and comadronas, at a national level, and to train all comadronas within Guatemala with our comprehensive hands-on course. We could then begin to divide Guatemala into regions with groups of trainers responsible for specific regions. Once a registry is formed, there could be a way of ensuring that trainers, as well as comadronas have a recertification on a regular basis, to keep everyone up to date. The doctor in charge of the doctors in the Dept. (state) of Sololá will also be present at this meeting to speak on our behalf. He has been a promoter of our course for the past number of years and has seen the benefits of our style of teaching. There will also be a representative of the Sololá Dept. of Development.
Things continue to unfold, and many more areas of Guatemala are still in need of training. Thank you all who have and continue to support this project, helping many Guatemalans learn safe birthing skills and saving lives!
Sophak (Admin/Outreach Coordinator, RCRC), Lee (Organisational Development Officer, RCRC) and Tokyo (Senior Program Manager, Australian Embassy, Phnom Penh) at the CIDI Network meeting.
On 28 February and 1 March, Sophak and Lee attended the final meeting of the Cambodian Initiative for Disability Inclusion (CIDI) Network. By funding 55 projects, which have been run by 38 Cambodian local organisations, the Australian Red Cross’s CIDI network has been a great success, not only funding disability projects directly, but holding regular workshops to build the capacity of the Khmer staff of the member organisations.
RCRC has really benefitted from being part of this wonderful network, since we joined 18 months ago. We actively participated in the following workshops to develop understanding and skills in the following ways:
- First Aid training
- Self-help groups – we learned from each other’s organisations about the sustainable change that many SHGs achieve in small villages and in towns,
- Advocacy – how to build better community understanding of disability; at present there is still a lot of discrimination against people with disabilities,
- Quickbooks (accounting software program) training for some key beneficiaries of RCRC’s Access For All project,
- Child Protection Policy development and implementation,
- Monitoring and evaluation – with field experience. RCRC worked with Muslim Aid Cambodia for a Peer to Peer Evaluation, with a visit by RCRC to Muslim Aid in Kampong Chhnang, and a return visit by Muslim Aid to RCRC’s Access For All project in Prey Veng.
- And, we received financial support to send Sophak to the 2nd Asian Pacific CBR (Community-Based Rehabilitation) congress in Manilla, Philippines.
All the members of the CIDI network have really valued these meetings and workshops. They’ve helped build close relationships through sharing information, knowledge and experiences of working in the disability sector, and, crucially the network has made a big contribution to developing the capacity of Khmer staff in the above ways. We are all hoping very much that there is a way for the Australian Red Cross to be able to continue to run the network.
Sokny with participants and Evelyn Mackin (in white jacket)
Sokny at the International Federation of Societies for Hand Therapy congress 2013 in India.
Senior RCRC Physiotherapist, Sokny took to the skies in early March – on his first ever flight – to New Delhi, India.
As the winner of the Evelyn Mackin Award for a therapist from a developing country, RCRC was thrilled that Sokny had this opportunity to take part in this fantastic learning opportunity.
There was a great deal to choose from – as the conference was attended by many health disciplines including specialist hand surgeons. Also present were Occupational Therapists, Prosthetists and Orthotists (POs), Physiotherapists, and researchers.
Sokny focussed on topics that might be of greatest use in Cambodia, and at RCRC. These were wrist instability: splinting or exercise; stabilisation exercise for wrist instability; rehabilitation for patients with burns; thumb instability: surgery, splints or exercise, and consideration of the kinds of splinting material and types of splints. Hand therapy is such a specialist area, and in Cambodia, as elsewhere, so much is at stake if hand use is compromised through injury.
It wasn’t quite all work though, Sokny also grabbed the chance to visit the Taj Mahal!
Sokny – at the Taj Mahal
‘Amazing and fantastic’ is how he summed it up. Sokny is looking forward to the opportunity to pass on his new found knowledge, to his RCRC colleagues and to members of the Cambodian Physical Therapy Association (CPTA).
RCRC is enormously grateful to theInternational Federation of Societies for Hand Therapy, for providing Sokny with an all-expenses paid opportunity to learn so much from others in the field of hand therapy. Written by Lee Parker
Thanh Thien Village Ornamental Flower Center has seen its first tourist visit. Thanh Thien was historially the traditional royal village which made the fabric flowers for the kings and queens of Vietnam. This skilled art of hand-crafting delicate work, needing specialized tools and instruments, themselves made by the villagers had been all but lost. Rose Vietnam has helped to revive the cottage-industry, and introduce it to tourists, who are able both to see, as well as to try their hand at the process themselves. A visitor centre has been established and a small shop where flower kits and other souvenirs may be purchased.
Lying around 5 hours drive (200 km) north east of Antananarivo, is village of Mahatsara. The school there founded by Bina Andriamanjato is supported also by group of Canadian students and ex students who joined up their project with Rose Charities Canada
The Mahatsara School provides Quality Education to over 100 students who would not otherwise have the opportunity to attend school. In 2012 the grade 5 students won top place in the region. In addition all 27 grade 9 students passed the difficult National High School Entrance Exam, to receive their Junior Dipolmas. This is very important as it is the gateway to higher education in Madagascar.
The kids at Mahatsara form are a happy and energetic congregation ranging from young to mid teens.
There is a school community garden project cultivated by parents, students and other community members. There is a lunch nutrition program to ensure each child receives at least one healthy meal per day, and a Mahatsara Parents Association which is a real driving force behind the school.
The school runs a community library; books are very expensive in Madagascar and most have been donated by international volunteers. Sports programs are also organized: in 2011 the basketball team made it to the regional finals. The school has taken students on several field trips in the surrounding area. Among the most significant field trips has been a trip to the capital of Madagascar, Antananarivo through which older students at the school had the opportunity to see the capital and tour the University. For most students, this was their first trip to Antananarivo.
Health education: Mahatsara organizes community health education sessions at the request of community members. These sessions may include dental hygiene, sex education, nutritional training and home safety (ie the hazards of cooking on a fire indoors)
Finally a Mahatsara store is organized, selling school supplies and other small items to community members who can afford them. All proceeds are put back into the project.
Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.
Linda-Hard to believe I am back in Port-au-Prince for the fourth time since the big earthquake in January of 2010. I am grateful to be part of a Rose Charities sustainable project to facilitate a neonatal resuscitation course, as previously requested by many health care professionals in Haiti. On my trip last year I saw firsthand the need for neonatal support, as 5 babies died on my unit in a week at the hospital. Even though the care there was excellent, financial resources are limited, and the staff can benefit from supportive education, equipment and facilitation of resources. Rose Charities is building upon several other trips of surveying Haitian doctors and nurses, networking and teaching certification classes to now offer another day of certifying several trainers, and two full days of teaching a standardized neonatal resuscitation course to approximately 70 nurses and doctors from various hospitals in Haiti to improve care for infants and neonates in Haiti. I am thrilled to have my 15 year old son Andrew with me filming a documentary about this project, and he is very excited to be here (it is great he speaks French!). My heart was warm as we flew in today, and I was pleased to see that the airport has been completely renovated since I was here last April, further evidence that positive change is possible and it is real.
Monday, March 11th, 2013
Andrew - Today was “preparation day” for the big week ahead. I have to say it feels weird staying in an almost resort-looking type of place, when there’s so much else outside these gates that I am blind to. I was expecting to arrive at a dirt airport, then drive over to some small house to sleep on the floors. As per usual in life, nothing is as expected. First of all the airport had a baggage system similar to ours with air-conditioned rooms and even a duty-free store, and considering I was expecting rubble, this was a huge difference. My mom said there have been huge renovations since she was here last, which seems like a good thing. Living in this… Resort/Hotel/Lodge… When there is so much poverty outside, feels wrong. I would feel so much better if I wasn’t so secluded from everyone, I wish I could live with the people rather than safely here. I have to say today was very relaxing though, it gave me a chance to rest from travel before the interviews ahead. I am so relieved to finally be able to stay in this beautiful country of Haiti, however even here, I am still facing first world problems and sometimes don’t realize that I am making them. Things like ” no wifi ” and ” uncharged electronics” really make me feel bad when I see people who have hardly anything living in tiny tents and sheds. I am excited for the week ahead and can’t wait to see and explore more of this amazing country.