Building Schools & Hope in Nepal

 

Jaishree Narsih

The 2015 earthquake in Nepal affected so many lives and left so much damage. A year later, the people of Nepal are still rebuilding. One of the many affected areas of infrastructure were the schools. CEF is proud to partner with Kina Social Ventures to support the rebuilding of some of the schools so the kids of Nepal can continue to get a good education.

For 13 years Kina, a registered Canadian charity, has been helping at-risk girls in rural Nepal by providing them with educational support and healthcare services. These girls are supported throughout their entire education, with the ultimate goal to empower them with this education and become more productive members of society and contribute to the development of their community.

Because the earthquakes in 2015 damaged many schools, Kina is working to rebuild these schools so they can continue to support girls with their education. CEF is funding the reconstruction of one of the schools in the Rocham Village area of Nepal. This is a very remote area of the country that houses approximately 150 families and there is currently no electrical power. It is quite a trek to get there from the capital city of Kathmandu with a lot of heavily terraced, steep, and corrugated mountains along the way.

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Base, one of the remote communities in Nepal where Kina is helping rebuild schools.

David Wood, Founder and Director of Kina, was in Nepal in May and provided us with an update on the school construction. The foundation has been dug out and a lot of the materials are being transported to the Rocham Village site. The goal is to have an earthquake resistant school up and running as soon as possible.

The school in Rocham Waku currently under construction.

Kina is working with a local in-country partner, The Small World (TSW), to help with the construction of the schools. There is a School Management Committee and a School Construction Management Committee – all made up of local residents who are learning and developing reusable skills.

Currently, in Rocham Village, there are three schools, all of which have extensive damage, overcrowding, and extremely tiny classrooms. Classes grades  1 – 8 are taught in these schools. One of the schools is extremely damaged due to the earthquake and is quite dangerous, but still being used on a temporary basis until the new building is up and running. The other two schools are comparatively safer and slightly bigger. More than 230 students attend these schools, so if you do the math, that is approximately 76 students per school in some very small classrooms, as can be seen in the picture below!

Nepal class
A very cozy classroom in Nepal.

While on this trip, David was also able to interview new students for the Kina scholarship program. So many of these girls come from poor families, live in very remote areas, and some have no parents. With the continuation of Kina’s program and the building of this new school, the hope is to equip these girls with an education that will serve them well into the future.

Nepal kids

 

 

A Message from Dan Rogers: Happy New Year!

Dan Rogers, Board Chair

2015 was quite the year for Compassionate Eye Foundation! It started in Cambodia for four members of the Board of Directors, including myself and Steven Errico, a photographer who has shot for CEF for about nine years. Trips to countries where we support programs and projects are always interesting, sobering, emotional, enjoyable, and entrancing. Cambodia was all of those. Our time spent with the people in Cambodia still resonates and we came to appreciate much more fully the deep dedication and tremendous work done by our great partner Kids International Development Society (K.I.D.S.) and their local partners.

The reason for CEF is the projects and programs we fund around the world. In addition to our work with K.I.D.S. in Cambodia, this past year we continued our support of the community of Tuixocel in Guatemala, the Peer Literacy and Teacher training programs in Sierra Leone through Cause Canada, and the Orphans and Vulnerable Children program with Partners in the Horn of Africa in Ethiopia. We also started a new initiative with Free the Children in Kenya, and funded a program with the Global Health Initiative (based out of UBC) in Peru. The work all of our partners do continues to inspire and we are proud to be involved with all of them.

2015 was also the year that, after 10 years, Susan McDonald stepped down as the Executive Director and we learned (painfully, I might add) to live without her. Fortunately, she is still involved with CEF as a volunteer. We continue our search for the right person to fill the Executive Director position and hopefully will be able to announce someone very soon.

Each year we give thanks to all involved in the various shoots around the world that support our work and in 2015 we had more to be thankful than usual. From Toronto, to Hawaii, to multiple shoots in London and Vancouver to our final shoot just before Christmas in Montreal, it was a great year for CEF and we are very excited to see the results. These are challenging times in the stock photography world, but we are determined to continue to generate funds for these projects. We are humbled and grateful for all the extremely talented creative folks who give (and then give some more) to help CEF succeed.

I also want to recognize three other people who stepped down from roles in CEF this past year. Fiona Watson left us after years as our Creative Director. We could not have achieved near as much as we have with you, Fiona! However, Fiona did us the great favour by arranging her replacement in Kate Stevens; who has seamlessly taken over the role. Our Board of Directors has also experienced change, with Michael Glogowsky and Andrea Dowd-Deaver stepping down after many years. We miss you both.

There are too many people to thank including our great delivery partners, creative staff, communications and branding volunteers (thank you EFM!) and the tireless Board of Directors. We know we have a lot of work ahead of us in 2016 as it is also our 10th Anniversary. We are planning a celebration and the biggest “shoot” year yet!  It will be exciting and challenging. I look forward to all our supporters being involved! As always, if you have any comments or questions, don’t hesitate to contact me at daniel.rogers@compassionateeye.org.

Wishing you all the very best for 2016!

Project Update: New Classrooms for Trakiet Primary School in Cambodia

Jaishree Narsih

Imagine attending a school where you had to share one small classroom with more than 60 other students. It seems unbelievable to think about, but this is the reality for many children living in rural Cambodia.

Compassionate Eye Foundation, in partnership with Kids International Development Society (K.I.D.S.) is helping fund the building of four new classrooms at Trakiet Primary School in Cambodia. With four classrooms already in place, the hope is to alleviate the overcrowding that is happening and ensure that all the kids have access to a proper education in an environment that is conducive to learning. This project provides a second benefit because some of the community members can be employed as labourers for the classroom construction.

Photo: Robert Kent, CEF's founder, during his recent visit to Cambodia
New classrooms under construction. Photo by Robert Kent, CEF’s founder, during his recent visit to Cambodia.

On average, the four classrooms that are currently in place serve about 500 students that come from three different villages; with many students commuting over long distances. Due to overcrowding, some of the kids are taught in a tin building that overheats quite easily and has a dirt floor, which becomes a mud floor when it’s rainy. To compensate for the lack of room, some children are being taught in a nearby monastery, which means that they don’t get access to the lunch program that is funded at the school.

The red hut in the background is the original classroom building that is currently being replaced. Photo: Robert Kent

Many of these students and their families live on or close to the poverty line. A good education is the only way to break this cycle of poverty and give the kids an opportunity to be able to find good sustainable employment and ensure a brighter future. The four new additional classrooms, along with desks, chairs, blackboards, and tables will vastly improve the learning conditions.

Construction is currently underway and the school will be fully completed by April 2016. There are about 15 workers from the community that have been hired to help with this project. Below is an excerpt from the Co-Founder Administrator of the Kids International Development Society, outlining how helpful this project will be:

“It will be a relief for the children and teaching staff to have better conditions to learn and teach in. The staff were saying that during the rainy season the water in the little tin building with the dirt floor is ankle deep and the kids have to put their feet up on the wooden bars of their desks. Right now it is 34 degrees here and the tin building is sweltering hot. Some children have to attend school at a nearby Pagoda as there is no room at their school. ​As well the kids in the kitchen area are crammed in and only have half walls and the lunch program has to be cooked outside,​ so these new ​classrooms will make a huge difference.”

Trakiet_RKent

With the completion date only four months away, there is a lot of hope and excitement for what these new classrooms can do for the community. A good education can open so many different opportunities for the people in this small rural town.

 

Helping to Break the Cycle of Poverty in Cambodia

Leah Lockhart, Communications Chair

Education is one of the keys to escaping poverty but, unfortunately for many children, poverty is the biggest barrier to attending school.

During the CEF visit to Cambodia in January, we met with a group of students in a program run by our partner, Kids International Development Society (K.I.D.S.). The program, called Smart Kids, supports children who otherwise would not be able to receive an education.

In Cambodia, especially in rural areas, parents often cannot afford the costs associated with school and require their children to work or help with household chores. Many children work to help support their families and are unable to go to class.

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The children put on a play explaining the importance of clean drinking water.

We met with students at the school where Compassionate Eye was funding a clean water project. Although it was the weekend, the entire school, teachers, and parents came out to greet us. The students in the Smart Kids program performed a fabulous play demonstrating the importance of clean water and how children often miss class because they are ill from drinking unclean water.

Later that afternoon, we visited some of the students in their homes to help us better understand why they were enrolled in the Smart Kids program. Families in that area have very low incomes, mostly derived from fishing and labour – in this case, primarily brick factories. The children, ages six and up, work in the factories alongside their parents, in poor working conditions, often operating dangerous machinery or stacking bricks in kilns.

A kiln in one of the brick factories.

Sadly, many of the children also call these factories home. The stark contrast of these smiling faces in crisp school uniforms sitting at their desks, followed by seeing them in their day clothes surrounded by the dusty, grim factory grounds was unsettling. Many of the families living on the brick factory property cannot leave because they don’t own land and can’t afford to rent or buy a house. One girl’s mother had moved to the factory when she was 15 – her daughter’s age – and had been there ever since. The mother desperately wanted a different future for her daughter, but her options were very limited.

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One of the families that work and live in a brick factory. The girl in the middle is part of the Smart Kids program, which enables her to go to school.

This is where Smart Kids comes in. The program helps break these vicious cycles of poverty by supporting one child from each family by providing education-related expenses like uniforms, school supplies, and a bicycle to commute between home and school. The program also covers Cambodian school costs and English classes.  An education, and especially English lessons, is a ticket out of the difficult situations many of these children endure. The children work hard, often going to school in the morning, then to work in the afternoons, and take English classes in the evening.

At the time of the visit 23 children were enrolled in the program. Upon our return, we decided that CEF would help others have the opportunity, and are delighted to say that we are now supporting an additional 11 children to go to school through the Smart Kids program.

The new group of Smart Kids supported by Compassionate Eye Foundation.

To learn more about the program and some of the children we met on our visit, hop over to our partner K.I.D.S.’ blog here or check out this great video by K.I.D.S. that follows one of the students we met, Pisu, as he goes about his day from the brick factory to school and back.

A Day In The Life Of Pisu from KIDS on Vimeo.

This video is about Pisu

Adopt a Village Program in Kenya

 

Groundbreaking ceremony (2)

We’re thrilled to announce that we have partnered with Free the Children to implement the holistic, sustainable, Adopt a Village programming in a Kenyan community.

The program helps empower community members with the resources and knowledge to break the cycle of poverty in their village. This program is located in the community of Esinoni (in the Nkori Nkori region of the South Narok district in Kenya) and will be supported by the local government through construction of school rooms and teacher’s accommodations. New infrastructure to promote hygiene and sanitation will be installed including water stations, hand washing stations, and latrines.

The community is incredibly excited for this new partnership and we just received this beautiful photo of the ground breaking ceremony in Esinoni. Stay tuned for more updates and photos as this project gets underway!

New Project: Kompong Khleang, Cambodia

In Hye Lee, Social Media Coordinator

Logo KIDSIn addition to the Sarsadam High School Project, Compassionate Eye Foundation is collaborating with Kids International Development Society (K.I.D.S.) on another project in Cambodia, this time in Kompong Khleang.

Through this project, K.I.D.S. aims to provide an elementary school of approximately 350 students and its community with a clean drinking water system. The current well is of poor water quality and lacks the capacity to provide enough water for drinking and hygiene. The new system will benefit a community of approximately 1,000 people.

This project is expected to be completed in March 2015 and will improve the community’s health and allow the children to focus more time on their education. We look forward to future updates from this exciting new project!

New Project: Sarsadam High School, Cambodia

In Hye Lee, Social Media Coordinator

Logo KIDSCompassionate Eye Foundation’s success is, in large part, made possible by our collaboration with organizations like Kids International Development Society (K.I.D.S.). In the past, CEF has worked with K.I.D.S. on various projects in Cambodia to provide communities with clean water, solar powered lights for schools, and a mobile health clinic.

For their latest project, K.I.D.S. again focuses on expanding educational opportunities in Cambodia, specifically the education of girls at Sarsadam High School. This project will build a private women’s washroom for approximately 600 female high school students and their teachers. Presently there are only four squat toilets for the school population of about 1000 students and  there are no private sinks or hygienic cleaning areas. The new washroom will provide students and teachers with more privacy by building squat toilets with cubicles and a wash area. By building this washroom, CEF and K.I.D.S. will improve the attendance and achievement levels of female students and improve the working environment for female teachers.

Sarsadam Elementary and High School
Sarsadam Elementary and High School

The project is expected to be completed in 2015 and will support CEF’s goals of helping to expand educational opportunities and basic health services in developing nations. We look forward to this collaboration and future collaborations with K.I.D.S.

Photo of the Week: Napo River Project Update

In Hye Lee, Social Media Coordinator

This week’s POTW is from the Napo River in Peru, the site of our current collaboration with the University of British Columbia’s Division of Global Health. This collaboration consists of an education program to foster safe fish consumption and nutrition habits in communities around the Napo River. The river is the primary source of transportation, drinking water, and food for the people of the region. In this photo, taken by Erick Carreras, Norberto and his father Teddy are about to assist with fish sampling as part of the program. Stay tuned for more updates about this exciting project!

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CEF’s Sierra Leone Teacher Empowerment and Training Program

By Eunice Sotelo,  Social Media Coordinator

Education isn’t just about students acquiring knowledge; it’s about lifelong learners making real-world connections to what they’ve learned in the classroom. It follows that teachers who are properly trained for the job and feel supported in their role would have the confidence and capacity to lead and mentor. Compassionate Eye Foundation’s Teacher Empowerment and Training Program in the Koinadugu District of Sierra Leone, in partnership with CAUSE Kids aims to do exactly that.

CAUSE Canada

CAUSE Canada, an international and development organization founded in Montreal, had been implementing projects in Sierra Leone since 1988. It started CAUSE Kids in 2006 to fund formal education in Koinadugu, as well as promote better health care for students. CAUSE Kids’ layered approach to education meant dealing with the basics first; equip children with daily meals, uniforms and school supplies and we enable them to learn. Four years ago, CAUSE Kids partnered with CEF for the Peer Literacy Program, which trained grades 10 and 11 students to become peer literacy tutors to primary students in after-school reading and phonetics sessions. The chosen tutors received financial support along with weekly computer training and library services at CAUSE Kids Integrated Learning Centre.

Teacher training program

CEF’s teacher training program with CAUSE Kids extends the goal of helping to revitalize the public education system in Sierra Leone. This year, the plan is to improve the skills of rural primary teachers in 17 target schools comprising 5,100 students and 145 teachers. At a two-day conference in November 2014, participating teachers will learn best practices from education professors in Science, Math, Phonics, Information Technology and child-centered teaching techniques (CCTT). The emphasis is on delivering information accurately and addressing the learning needs of the students.

Many teachers will also benefit from weekly professional mentoring by trained educators over the course of a year. Of the 145 participants, 25 will receive bursaries toward one year of their Teachers Education Certificate at the Makeni Polytechnic Institute. Teachers will study on weekends in Kabala and between scholastic terms. As of July 15, 2014, CEF is proud to report 18 female teachers and seven male teachers were enrolled in the teacher certification program. As more female teachers become involved in their professional growth, young girls can continue to look up to professional female role models who see the value in education. The hope is that these students will gradually see better teacher delivery and support in their classrooms.

Empowering teachers in remote areas

As CAUSE Kids has pointed out in its program proposal, there is no “shortage of capable, self-motivated individuals wanting to teach” in Sierra Leone. CEF’s role is to help empower elementary school teachers in remote areas like Koinadugu by giving them the opportunity to thrive in their chosen career through training and mentorship. With guidance and support they can grow as professionals and become a positive influence in their communities.