Sunday, October 08, 2017

Cambodia pre-trip

I am in Cambodia for the third time this year, to prepare for the project in summer 2018.  This year the project has a new dimension.  We will have 3 groups of students, one from the Hong Kong Polytechnic University, another from University of Maryland, and a third from the Royal University of Phnom Penh.  In 2016, our team and the Maryland team held joint classes via video conferencing in the Spring of 2016, and the teams worked together in Rwanda in June.  This year we added the RUPP team, and the 3 teams will have joint classes in Spring and then work tougher in Kampong Speu in Cambodia in June 2018.  Hence we are here to scout the sites.  

We are also checking out the projects that were done earlier.  Our first used cargo container-turned-into-community learning centre, set up in 2015 in San Mok looks and functions well.  I would love to be able to claim that it was my idea, but it was the students’ and the staff’s idea.  At least I can be proud of them.  

Here in San Sok, it is sitting on the grounds of the leader of our partner NGO Kong People Do.  Hence it is well attended to. The books, computers, etc., are used quite extensively.  The solar panels are humming along, generating electrical power to run the lights and computers. 

I heard that the one set up in 2016 on Silk Island is also running well.  There it is sitting on the grounds of a primary school and is supported by the teachers.  But I heard that the teachers cannot use the computers well.  Perhaps we have to either provide more training, or make the computers easier to use. 

In Kampong Speu, the centre set up only this past summer in 2017 is also maintained well.  The water collection system is working.  The facilities are maintained well.  Young People Do cannot send people here too often because it is an hour and a half away from the city.  But they are planning an overnight camp here for a new group of university student volunteers.  The boys will be sleeping in tents while the girls sleep inside the centre. It is a great idea and we wish them well.  

When I stepped inside, I was pleasantly surprised that it felt reasonably cool - I could stay inside for quite some time, while it is 33 C outside.  The fans powered by the batteries charged by the solar panels are really working well!  I was skeptical in the beginning but am now quite convinced.  

The solar panel-battery charging stations are also working well, mostly.  There is a bit of wear and tear, mainly with the cables rusting and breaking.  Some many have experienced some damage due to short-circuiting and need to be replaced.  

Perhaps we have to provide more training to the local students so that they can carry out more maintenance and even installation on their own, as we have discussed with RUPP already. 

We are very happy to see that the systems we have installed are still working, that our partners are thriving, and that we have more challenging and exciting projects coming up.  God has been graciously guiding us step by step.  We know, because we certainly did not plan it this way in the beginning.  


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