The Cambodian Library, 2 Years on!

Almost 2 years ago we built a much-needed library for the Bunnong children who live in the elephant lands of rural Cambodia. Last year we brought additional books and school supplies for all 137 children and their teachers (as well as school supplies for almost 100 more children in 2 nearby village schools), and this year we’re back again!

Thanks to our extraordinary donors, we’re currently updating the infrastructure of the library inside and out, and the children are reading, reading, reading! Your support also helped us provide basic school supplies to an additional school whose needs are profound. Can you imagine if your child went to school where there is no electricity, no water, no working toilet, a leaking roof, and not enough food in their bellies or even the ability to physically get to school? The road ahead for this particular school is long and the needs complex, but we are so grateful to everyone who has supported our work as we strive to create sustainable positive change for the mostly Bunnong children residing in these vulnerable Putrom Villages.

A very special thank you from the Heart to Franci Blanco and her Happy Hearts Yoga for their generosity in helping us help these children! We could not extend our reach without you! And another special thank you to Kathy Stoyle and Teresa Bishop, whose charitable love allowed us to bring medical supplies to a very special teacher and friend, as well as first aid supplies for mahouts and guides tending elephants in the forest.

Whether we are in Cambodia or Myanmar or Sri Lanka, whether we are working with the kids or the elephants or the dogs, one thing remains clear and constant: Love Conquers Fear, Compassionate Action Changes Lives, and when you Let What Moves You Move the World, miracles happen…

PS Our charitable work in Cambodia is made possible by our donors, but also by the fantastic people of ELIE (Elephant Livelihood Initiative Environment). Their Elephant Valley Project is shortlisted for a fantastic grant and needs your vote to win! Check out our last post for how you can help create positive change for elephants, people, and the fragile habitat they all share simply by taking one minute to VOTE!

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!