Beng Mealea is a poor subsistence farming community 90 minutes north east of Siem Reap. It consists of a number of small communities and hamlets, and is surrounded by rice paddies with the important local water catchment area of Kulen National Park clearly visible to the north. The majority of the population in the area live below the poverty line and have limited access to medical facilities and education. Households rely on the production of rice for survival, selling off whatever is spare for additional cash in order to supplement their diets. In rural Cambodia the poverty and harsh farming seasons add extreme pressure on families to restrict education to children, yet there is still great enthusiasm for education from the younger generation. The high school at Beng Mealea caters for 700+ children a day with half attending classes in the morning and the remainder in the afternoon. Facilities within the school are extremely poor and as such it is unable to cope with such large numbers, a fact that will continue to worsen as plans to double numbers from further outlying villages are put in place with no planned improvement in the facilities by the state. The school has no electricity and a limited water supply. There is only one functioning toilet in the school to cater for staff and students. The classrooms are functioning though the main structure is in a poor state of disrepair due to subsidence and poor original construction. The roof is holed in numerous places, with dysfunctional guttering, leaking water storage and potential for further collapse. There is currently only the most basic shack used as an outdoor kitchen, consisting of two dilapidated hearths and little else. There is no storage for food or preparation area. What limited equipment the school owns is stored in one the classrooms which includes a very limited book supply. In addition up to 6 teachers currently share one dark, dingy and squalid classroom as their accommodation block. Due to an increase in the number of students coming to the school, but with no additional facilities, the school has built two temporary classrooms (made of soft wood and straw only) to the rear of the grounds. They are looking at freeing up more classroom space by moving the teachers and stores out, potentially creating homeless teachers. All in all the school is in a very sorry state of affairs and needs all the help it can get. Obviously all these issues affect the ability of the school teachers to continue with good education standards in a comfortable and safe environment. This project aims to improve the basic resources necessary for academic performance and once again instill a sense of pride into the school and all that attend it. This is expected to reduce incidences of illiteracy, disease and poverty in the community as well as improve educational standards and the wellbeing of school students. Due to the widespread problems at the school there are a number of projects that need completing urgently, which i have listed in order of priority below.
Existing classroom structural improvement and refurbishment: The existing classrooms need to have the whole roof lifted off and stabilized, patching up holes in the roof and replacing broken beams and supports. This will also include some limited brick work and stabilization of foundations in places. Replacement guttering and improved water storage would also be refurbished at this point.
Funds required: $10,000 Funds received: $3,500
Decoration, brightening and equipping of existing classrooms: As soon as the roof has been repaired the classrooms will need a good lick of paint. We hope to also include bright and colourful educational murals over this initial coat of paint but this will be an ongoing project with our volunteer groups.
Funds required: $2,500
Construction and equipping of a library cum storeroom: This is currently two thirds built and now requires the roof structure, doors, windows and equipping with shelves and furniture.
Funds required: $2,000
FUND RAISING NOW
Construction and equipping of a multi purpose kitchen: The current kitchen is virtually unusable and so a small, open sided structure with some food preparation and storage facilities would go a long way.
Funds required: $5,500
Construction and equipping of a teacher accommodation: These would be very simple brick structures but would be a vast improvement on their current conditions. It is likely that a minimum of 3 blocks will be required and if possible up to 6 constructed.
Funds required: $3,500 per structure ($17,500 total for 5 rooms)
Construction of effective toilet and ablution blocks: We are considering putting in composting toilets in the school which would mean they could be functional all year round and the waste used on their land for fertilizer. We also believe the use of these toilets may well help to educate the children about the benefits of composting, particularly in a rural area with limited water supplies during parts of the year.
Funds required: $1,000
Construction of additional classrooms: Currently the school have built 2 temporary additional classrooms in the school grounds but these are basic to say the least. With the school expanding from 600 to 900 students in the past few years there is a chronic shortage of teaching space and therefore building additional long term classrooms is critical.
Funds required: $18,000 per classroom ($36,000 total for 2)