Rice planting in Prasat Chas village.

It’s a busy time of year in Cambodia, with entire families stepping out onto their rice fields to plant rice. Here we chat to two of our older students, nominated by their friends as “the best planters” to tell us about this uniquely Cambodian tradition.

Rice planting in flooded fields on the way to Helping Hands.

Rice planting in flooded fields on the way to Helping Hands.

Thea, 15 and Nat, 14 are our “rice experts”. Hi guys! When do you plant rice?  Nat: We plant rice in rainy season! There is no set month, only once the rain starts.

Our rice experts demonstrate how they plant rice.

Our rice experts demonstrate how they plant rice.

What do you do? Thea: First, you have to plough the ground – we use a cow, it is easy to control the cow. Some people use a buffalo and a wooden tractor with a sharp stone. Then we collect compost like cow poo to put in the soil. Then you throw the seed across the ploughed field. It is really important now that you guard the field from chickens or birds who will eat the seeds. After that it will grow by itself.

A Helping Hands' student washes his family's cow in the dam next to the school.

A Helping Hands’ student washes his family’s cow in the dam next to the school.

How long does this take? Thea: We can harvest it after the Water Festival, so around 3 months. It depends on the rice. We plant the rice that we select from the previous years harvest which has been the best.

Who helps to plant? Nat: The whole family helps each other on their fields. If a family helps us, we help them, as we say in Cambodia we “borrow their hands”.

How much rice do you grow? Nat: It depends on the year. If the sky gives more water (rainfall) it is good for us and we get a better harvest. Here we don’t have irrigation. Some years we have rice to sell, some years we don’t have enough to eat. It all depends on the sky.

What’s the best bit about this time of year? Nat: I like planting more than harvesting, because planting is easy! Harvesting needs more people, it takes more time.

Harvest time is hard work in Cambodia without any machinery.

Harvest time is hard work in Cambodia without any machinery.

What do you not like about it? Thea: The planting season is okay but pulling up the plants is hard, sometimes I get blisters. And cutting the rice can be dangerous as we use a scythe and it can cut us! (Lisa: Helping Hands treats this injury with first aid on-site a lot at this time of year).

And how about the taste of the rice once you’ve harvested it? Thea and Nat: “Chnnang”! Delicious!

Thanks guys! This season can be challenging at school with many families needing their children to help them in the rice fields. Well done to our teachers for keeping classes running and to the students for being flexible, helping their families whilst continuing their education.

Cambodian rice forms the basis of our nutritious breakfast program at Helping Hands.

Cambodian rice forms the basis of our nutritious breakfast program at Helping Hands.

To support the work we do in this rural community, investing in education and health, you can donate here.

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Project Report: How your donations are having an impact in Cambodia‏

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English spelling practice at Helping Hands!
It’s hard to believe that it is already almost two months since Helping Hands took part in the Global Giving Fundraising challenge – but for all of us here the memories of all our supporters’ enthusiasm, ingenuity and generosity are still very fresh in our minds. We are delighted (and more than a little bit humbled) that with your help we raised a total of just under £7,000 or just over US$10,700!

Let’s not forget that the challenge was also a competition and thanks to everyone’s support and generosity we raised the third highest amount of all the projects taking part which meant we were also awarded a cash bonus of £500 from Global Giving!

We received donations from Cambodia, Peru, The UK, France, USA, Australia, Singapore and Taiwan to name just a few of the countries where Helping Hands enjoys support. So once again thank you to everyone who donated and everyone who organised fundraisers to help us achieve this amazing goal.

Meawhile in Cambodia…

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Project manager Lisa with scholarship tailoring student (centre) and her ‘House Mum’ in Siem Reap.

Work at Helping Hands continues apace, and your donation is helping us to continue our work with the amazing people of Prasat Chas village. To give you an insight into the long term impact that Helping Hands has on the community, please read the following report from Helping Hands Project Manager Lisa Morris who tells us about the positive difference we have made to just a few of the students we have been working with…

“Since August 2014 we’ve helped 12 highly motivated young adults to access further and higher education in Cambodia’s second ‘city’, Siem Reap, a one and a half hour bicycle ride from the village.

These opportunities offer realistic training and futures for students from the village. Children often drop-out of education before they complete high school, due to family and financial pressures, making it impossible for them to continue at university or secure a good job. The main option for these young adults is low-paid, often dangerous, temporary construction work.

Amongst our success stories this year is a 21 year old girl who was working in construction and is now undertaking a tailoring course, which includes making school uniforms for the students at Helping Hands. She will soon graduate and return to her village with a sewing machine and new skills to establish a simple business.

Two young women also previously working in construction are now in training at a respected Cambodian beauty school, again with the intention of returning to their community to set up small businesses. And one Helping Hands graduate is set to be an exceptional Khmer chef thanks to our new partnership with training restaurant Haven.

In addition to this, Helping Hands recently celebrated one of our ex-students graduating from our sponsored training program at the Bayon Pastry School in Siem Reap, and she now continues her hard work and success as sous-chef at a luxury hotel.

Helping Hands Cambodia’s objective is to break the cycle of poverty in rural Cambodia by helping people to help themselves. The successes that we celebrate in education and training with these young adults are only possible through the generosity of our supporters and of course the hard work, dedication and commitment of these inspirational students. Well done to them for their successes!”

We hope we can count on your continued support and we look forward to bringing you more news soon!

Helping Hands Pastry school graduate and family

Helping Hands Pastry school graduate and family

Stay tuned for more updates. And thanks for your support!

You can view our Global Giving Page here, or lend your support with a donation at the link below:

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*WISHLIST*

Once in a while we get the chance to add to our educational environment at Helping Hands with resources which aren’t “essential” but would create many great learning opportunities for our 300 students. This is one of them!

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Our sporting partner Globalteer Sports have received a big shipment of indestructible footballs and for just US$60 Helping Hands can get 60 of these purpose-made balls.

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Anyone who has been to Helping Hands knows how quickly our sports equipment normally deteriorates with the rough ground so these new balls would be a great investment. Our students love to play and we believe that the longer they stay on-site, at school, in a safe learning environment, the better!

Can anyone help? Please email helping.hands@globalteer or donate securely through Paypal here:

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Bright lights, bright students

Sometimes small things can make a big difference here in Cambodia. 

Our recent collaboration with Sumar-Lakhani foundation has brought 60 solar lamps to the community where we work in rural Cambodia. These lamps have been part-bought in a micro-finance initiative by each student, and part funded by the supportive education company Teacher Horizons.

A students house in the community where we work. The only available electricity in this village is through solar power.

A students house in the community where we work. The only available electricity in this village is through solar power.

Solar lamps are essential in this rural area; there is no mains power and darkness descends around 6.30pm all year round. This noticeably limits the amount of time that students have to complete their studies and continue their learning.

A student in elementary class studies after sunset using her solar lamp.

A student in elementary class studies after sunset using her solar lamp.

Lamps like these improve daily life for our students and their families. Our students use them to complete homework at night and read books they have borrowed from Helping Hands. Furthermore it is used for safe walking and movement at night as all the students live in houses without bathrooms.

A student completes her Helping Hands homework with the help of her solar lamp.

A student completes her Helping Hands homework with the help of her solar lamp.

A big thanks to Teacher Horizons and Sumar-Lakhani foundation for helping us improve educational opportunities for these committed young people in rural Cambodia!

Donations to continue our educational impact are gratefully received through PayPal and can be one-time or monthly.

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