A little library in rural Cambodia with big dreams!

When you want to help elephants have a better life, particularly in countries that have known tremendous hardship and suffering, lending hand and heart to the school that resides in the elephant’s forest and near their sanctuary is a sound way to shift a past filled with conflict toward a future of coexistence. Although people from around the world help change the future for wild and captive elephants, in the end it will be up to the people who live among them to chart their future, and as anywhere, education is key.With boundless gratitude to the good people of the Elephant Livelihood Initiative Environment (ELIE), in November Heart of Ganesh was able to supply and deliver much-needed school supplies to every one of the 127 children living in the middle of these elephant lands. Many of these children did not have the most basic learning necessities, let alone story books. The wonder and awe we witnessed as they opened their very own books inspired us to go right back to the Fundraising Drawing Board and create a proper space for MANY books, and the very first Lending Library of its kind in the commune.First the buildout: shored-up walls, brand new roof, and a fresh clean cement floor with a surrounding sidewalk. Next came newly built tables and shelves, and 2 locking glass bookcases to keep the brand new supplies safe from rats, rain, and theft. Then several coats of paint inside and out, with many volunteers from EVP lending their hands, hearts, and humor. Books have been purchased, art supplies are coming, and we’ll make sure to get photos of opening day when all of the children and teachers of Putrom 2 add their “leafy” handprints on the tree that graces the side of the library!Any sustainable project in rural Cambodia is fraught with consistent and unforeseen challenges, but what surprised us more than the challenges were the unforeseen miracles! Here’s one—Meet Savoun. Savoun was a teacher in Putrom for 7 years before falling out of a tree harvesting honey and breaking his back in 2015. Thanks to the consistent and steadfast support of ELIE, Savoun was able to receive the surgery and health care that saved his life. And now, Heart of Ganesh is preparing to get Savoun back in the classroom again, teaching in the soon-to-be wheelchair-accessible library! Savoun’s life, and that of his family as well as the the lives of all the students at Putrom 2, are set to change for the good in ways that were unfathomable a few short months ago.

Savoun in the library building then Ngok joined the team! Translators who speak Bunong, Khmai, and English and with a solid background in education are not around every corner! We’re thrilled that Ngok will enable HG to ensure Savoun has the supplies and support he needs to run a sound library, as well as implement plans and projects for fellow teachers and excited students to get the most out of hundreds of new books and dozens of art supplies.A few more hurdles remain for HG before opening day (March 29th!), with the greatest being the funding and building of a very long path! Without a vehicle capable of getting Savoun to school, the building of a cement path that his wheelchair can navigate is in the works. From his home, through the easement of 2 farms, across the broad school field and ending at the door of his classroom and library, this is no small feat. But the only way forward is through, so through we will go!

Bringing books and art into the school and the homes of rural teachers and their students will stretch open the close-in walls of village life, slowly creating additional options and choices for the future. At the same time, there is so much worthy of conservation here—from the surrounding dwindling forest and its elephant habitat, to the ways of ancient Bunong life that might be held in story and art as times quickly change. It will take creative minds to conserve what is so easily lost while claiming what is waiting to be found, and the new Putrom 2 Primary School Library is almost ready for 127 children to do just that! Stay tuned, more good news from the Heart coming soon!    

Ganga to be used in Navam Perahera in February

Navam Perahera—#NotOnMyBucketList

The Long Fight for Ganga’s previously court-ordered release into Protective Custody continues to be openly and flagrantly defied. The cruelty of her solitary life in chains is relentless as her keepers exploit her in the name of religion and social status in a blatant display of political maneuvering.

Just as grievous is with her court case backed up to March 2018, Ganga’s illegal owners will use her in the Navam Perahera at the end of February, the same perahera that paraded her consecutively in 2016 and 2017 despite the long standing court order for her to be taken into the protective custody of the State.

Please, if you are a visitor to beautiful Sri Lanka this February, do not support such cruelty with your tourist dollar. #NotOnMyBucketList

What else YOU can do: 
Submit the simple grievance form to the President of Sri Lanka, respectfully demanding that Ganga be taken into Protective Custody per the Court Order from 2016: 

Within the form, click:
Organization Type: Top Government
Organization: Presidential Secretariet 
District: Colombo

Even if you have written during our past campaigns, please write again over the next couple of weeks before the perahera as well as ahead of her March court date, letting the President know that you will not support cruelty with your tourist dollar.

Outrage alone is futile. Action is Everything.

Thank you to everyone who has remained steadfast in the fight for what is right. No matter how disheartening this has been, surely Ganga’s suffering is worth staying the course until she is no longer seen as “Fraudulent Permit #198”, but rather a living, feeling being who deserves far more than she has even been given.