Phnom Penh Dormitory Project Cambodia
Thursday, 1 October 2009
2009 has seen some significant changes in the Bethézer dormitories, but has also been a period of stabilisation. The year has provided an opportunity to try new things and to further develop the important relationship between the dormitories and the Bible Education Centre.
Since July 2008, there have been some fantastic developments. We opened our second dormitory to create places for young girls wishing to study in Phnom Penh. Also, there were the wonderful events of the baptisms of some of the dormitory students. Undoubtedly, this was in part because of the significant investments of time by ACBM fieldworkers from the BEC who planted and watered the seed of God’s word among the dormers. God gave the increase and with rejoicing we welcomed into the faith Brothers Vitou, Kosal, Long Ang, Vanny, “K”, Chantoun, Veasna, Vong, Borin and Sophea.
Hand in hand with the teaching has been the organisation of regular social activities for the dormers – eg, communal meals, game evenings, outings. These have been crucial in developing a sense of community and sharing among the dormers. Brother Jonathan Nutter, a fieldworker imbedded in the “boys” dormitory, enabled “continuous” and informal teaching and support of the dormers and dorm management. Jonno’s example and work ethic contributed enormously to the work of Bethézer in the dormitories. (Jonno lived in the dorm from January to the middle of July, when he returned to Australia.)
Day-to-day management of the dorms hasn’t been without its challenges. Instrumental in meeting them has been the excellent working relationship between the dorm manager and the dorm management committee. Where relevant, opportunities were seized to refine roles and responsibilities in the dorms. In another positive development, Brother Meng Him agreed to take on a more senior position, bringing greater experience and maturity to the dorm management. In fact Brother Him and his wife, Sister Kuntheavy, have been like anchors, providing conscientious and caring leadership in the dorms. Brother Chann Kosal was appointed assistant manager of the dormitory and is helping Brother Him. In addition, training for the dormitory management team is underway. First aid training is being facilited by the Cambodian Red Cross – Sister Kuntheavy has attended this training – and management skills by Brother Steve Armes from the BEC.
Sister Loy, Bro Don and Sister Una Strempel and other local fieldworkers performed an important service by putting cleaning procedures in place to maintain hygiene in the dorms. To improve the privacy of the dormers, they also erected curtains in some of the rooms. Brothers Meng Him and Jonathan Nutter together worked to ensure that dormers were tested and vaccinated for Hepatitis B as part of an ongoing focus on student health and wellbeing.
Funding for the dormitories was improved greatly in 2009 through a financial blessing from the Williamsburg Christadelphian Foundation. WCF funding is covering rental and staff wages which are a significant part of the annual, ongoing costs. WCF contributions are also funding the development of a programme to improve dorm facilities and the nutrition of some of the needier of the students.
Plans are being finalised to add a small gathering area on the rooftop of the dormitory building. The work is scheduled to be done in 2010. This will provide a place where students can relax or study in the cool of the evening. We are also considering further skills development though additional training for local dormitory management and projects to enhance aspects of the care of the students.