Our initial goals
From the inception of the Butterfly Pea Charitable Foundation and the perpetual waiting for our foundation license, it was still necessary for us to move forward with work that needed to be done.
First and foremost, we needed to replace the very dated chalkboards with glass whiteboards. These would last much longer and hold up much better in the harsh weather conditions of the floating village.
In addition, it would be necessary to install solar panels for electricity, which would enable us to then install ceiling fans.
Initially, we could address the primary school and later the secondary school, though it would be important for both schools to have these necessities.
Due to costs, this could be done rather expediently and we could use the additional time for planning how to renovate an unfinished primary school.
With our initial plan in place, it was time to put the plan into motion.
A big thanks to Chhunny. He was able to have the glassboards manufactured for us to then transport them via truck and boat to the floating village for installation. It was the same story with the solar panels, Chhunny was able to secure a vendor that would donate their time to installing the solar panels and fans.
It all came together rather fast and the best part was that we were able to build partnerships and get others involved.
It was at this time that John began to wonder if it was possible to get his old school district involved.
His initial thought was to create a cultural exchange program through reading. But how would he get his alma mater involved?
The answer was in the power of Facebook.
Through sending a Facebook message to his school group, contacts were made. He was able to contact an administrator at Livonia Central School in Livonia, New York and an interest was sparked. An interest that led to a meeting at the Livonia School in July of 2018.
That meeting led to a friendship with Dr. Jennifer McMahon, and her joining the team at the foundation as its Director of Educational Programming.
This initial meeting in Livonia, NY led to the creation of a teacher workshop and seminar that took place in May of 2019.
During this time, many conversations, additional visits to Livonia, and many meetings with Dr. Jennifer McMahon led to the creation of this seminar.
Researching the Cambodian National Education Guidelines and Syllabus and speaking with the Teachers from Prek Toal to understand what additional training they would like to receive led Dr. McMahon to create a writing workshop that would be guided by ‘wonder’.
It could be used from 1st through 9th grade, the highest that can be achieved in Prek Toal. Further education requires students to go to Siem Reap or Battambang, three and four hours away respectively.
What we accomplished
In looking back, the concept of the Butterfly Pea Charitable Foundation happened in February of 2018. Fifteen months later, we have
- Installed glassboards in both the primary and secondary school
- Installed solar panels in both the primary and secondary school
- Supplied additional textbooks to both schools. Now every child has a textbook
- Supplied reading books to both schools
- Built one house for a local weaver
- Purchased two houses for families without adequate housing (without adequate housing, how can children learn?)
- Assisted with the education costs for three children (without assistance, they wouldn’t have been able to attend school)
We are partnering with Hong Kong University and with the State University of New York at Brockport to establish service co-teaching programs to assist with the further development of writing. This will lead to the improvement of reading and literacy overall.
It isn’t till you write it down that it becomes real, that so much has been accomplished in such a short period of time, but also realize that this is just a drop in the bucket of what still needs to be done.
“Education is for improving the lives of others and for leaving your community and world better than you found it.” Marian Wright Edelman.