THE ANNUAL FAMILY VISITS WITH MARINE

“By working at the NGO offices at the Bayon pastry school in town, we are a bit like in a bubble, far from the reality of the field, with the smell of croissants, open-air cinema, tourists and the expat’ community who come to order their birthday cakes … Even by making daily trips to the primary school inside Angkor temples area, we can forget where our students come from. At school, they are all dressed in the same way with their pretty white and blue uniforms, they come to us respectfully saying “Tchum Ripsour!”. Hands pressed against each other, they laugh, they run, and seem happy, far from their problems. Always smiling, never crying, these children impress us constantly.

But the family visits remind us where they come from, the reality of our programs and the impact of our actions.

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Soky, our primary school social worker, needs to re-evaluate the social level of all students’ families each year. It is a huge fieldwork that takes time and requires a lot of physical and mental energy. She must visit each family and complete the survey that has been preset by the social team. Professions and salaries of families’ members, characteristics of the house and the land, loans and debts … Families must reveal their limited resources. This is the moment to talk about their problems if Soky is not yet aware of them : the husband has just left with another woman, the son has stopped school to work and help the family, rice had to be borrowed from the neighbors because of a lack of resources… The situations are very diverse and none of the family situations are the same.
For these visits Soky is never alone. A “Barang”, in other words a white person, go with her every time. We follow her on dirty roads and sand, through puddles due to the rainy season, not to mention plastics everywhere. We arrive then in the family where all the discussions are in Khmer. We help Soky to take pictures of the house and we can ask complementary questions. For some members of the association, this is the opportunity to visit the villages for the first time and to meet our families in their environment where time seems to stop.

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Even without speaking Khmer, we can analyze the faces, the expressions, the silences and the intonations of each one. We can sometimes understand the discomfort and see what would like to remain hidden. Complicated in this culture where you must save face … Analyze which family is more in need than another is a heavy task. How do you compare an orphan with a family who has a seriously ill parent, a home with 10 members under the same roof, to another whose child has a severe mental handicap that is not supported anywhere in Cambodia? It is Soky’s hard work: she is constantly in the villages in contact with our families. Listen and understand without being overwhelmed by her emotions, keep a distance while keeping her humanity.

On our side, the day is over, we return to our cocoon in town. But all these faces, all those vulnerable families who live in these wooden houses, without water, without electricity, in contact with dogs filled with fleas and tiger mosquitos did not leave us indifferent. They remind us of the choice we made, why we get up every morning, in case we tend to forget it.”


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, 20 June 2019

SOKY & CHHEIN:
two women engaged
for the education
of disadvantaged youths.

Chhein joined Bayon School in January 2018. She comes from Banteay Mean Chey, at the north east of Cambodia and grew up in a family of 7 children. Like many Khmer children, she took care of her younger siblings when she was still very young. This is probably what drove her towards working with the youth.

After high school, she completed a course to become a primary school teacher and taught in her home province for a year. Even though she enjoyed the role, she decided to go back to university to become a social worker, job that she found more stimulating and that offers a better wage.
After graduating with a management bachelor from Siem Reap University, she worked with Enfants du Mékong for 3 years, then for Japanese charity Kimonos. Her role with Kimonos consisted of empowering young women to become independent and responsible, through a social and personal development programme.

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When she joined Bayon School, Chhein had an induction with her predecessor Tep, who had been social manager for the pastry school for a year and a half. He introduced her to her job description, which includes:
– Recruiting students;
– Assessing applicants’ families situation;
– Provide personal development sessions (job interview, resumes, etc.)
– Support the students with their life at the school and health;
– Seeking internships in restaurants and hotels;
– Seeking permanent roles after the training.

Chhein fast integrated into the team and was given a nickname – “Chhein Chhein”. What she most enjoys about her role is her relationship with the students. She works with them every day by providing essential information and support across many areas. She deeply wants to encourage them to become strong and independent women. She would like each of them to succeed in building a career that matches their interests.

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When she was younger, Chhein would have loved to receive such support, but her family encouraged her to end her studies to help with farming work and get married. Despite the pressure, she stood for her values and worked in a primary school to fund her studies.
Today, Chhein is very proud of her background and how far she has come. She just gave birth to a beautiful little girl. Before going on maternity leave, she told us she would like to support her daughter in her education to become an independent woman.

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Big thanks to Chhein for her involvement within the school and congratulations on her happy event!

THE KAMPOT JEWELS OFFERED BY FAIR FARMS
TO BAYON SCHOOL

We have been selling Kampot pepper for 2 years in order to support Bayon school activities. This pepper is offered by Fair Farms, a company created in Cambodia in 2014.
The pepper is packed in small Krama bags made by the mother of one of our primary school student. The incomes generated through the selling of these bags increases Coffee Shop annual revenues and is also an opportunity for organizing external events such as the charity gala in Paris, the Albert Menez special offers, various sales in Singapore and Cambodia…
In addition, the selling of these Krama bags helps the mother to get additional income that contributes in improving her family living conditions.
All the profits generated from these sales benefits to Bayon School and help us to provide quality education to youths living in the temples of Angkor.
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Fair Farms sells “The Kampot Jewels”, and its name expresses its founders’ willingness: to be fair and to help the local population.
“The Fair Farms philosophy is based on two main themes: respect for the land through 100% organic farming and respect for the human through the implementation of a social responsibility charter to improve to the way of life of our employees. Holidays, maternity leave, insurance, comfortable wages, meals, education, we take care of our family! “Norbert Binot – Founder of Fair Farms.
The team is composed of experienced farmers who have been growing pepper for generations. They control each tree to ensure their health and taste tests are done daily to ensure the optimal drying and quality.
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The production techniques of “Kampot Jewels” are 100% organic and traditional:
– Manual watering for better control of diseases & insects
– Use of natural twines made on site to avoid soil pollution
– Respect of traditional farming methods
– Natural fertilizers
– Manual harvesting and sorting
– Drying in the sun on high table in enclosed space to avoid any contamination with the ground, animals or insects.
That way, Fair Farms guarantees optimum quality. This product is AB certified and Fair Farms is the first and only Fair Trade certified Fair Trade Company in Cambodia. In addition, Fair Farms managers are very committed in protecting the environment and allocate 2% of their turnover to various development projects (recycling of plastic and glass, creation of the first water filter at the farm…).
This quality allows Fair Farms to include among its customers some of the greatest gastronomy tables: Pierre Gagnaire, Romain Meder, Alain Ducasse training center, Julien Royer, Alexandre Couillon, etc.
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The Bayon School thanks Fair Farms and its managers for their faithful support and for their work that “allow Cambodia grow” and our action as well! Congratulations!
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, 3 May 2019

An unforgettable charity night at the fabulous THEAM’S HOUSE

On 6th March our NGO hosted Bayon Charity Night – our annual charity night in Siem Reap. We received a very warm welcome from Maddy of the Theam’s House art gallery and event host. This traditional Khmer house created by designer Lim Muy Theam hosts an impressive collection of paintings, sculpture and music instruments made by the artist on site.
For the occasion, we were pleased to have chef Fabrice Prochasson, who holds the “Meilleur Ouvrier de France” title. This Chef of Creation at ARYZTA Food visited Cambodia to work with our team to create and prepare an incredible buffet mixing Asian and French flavours.
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For 3 days before the event, the whole pastry team was on fire. Our Chef Sokhoeurn Morn did a great job managing our small team, not used to such big events, to prepare a large buffet. Rigour, adaptation and efficiency were the keywords in the pastry lab! The students worked hard and that night was the opportunity for them to discover what a real ‘a la française’ buffet was. All the Bayon team got involved in organising this event: cooking, parking, reception, selling tickets, photographing…
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As every year, we were grateful to receive the valuable support of many sponsors in Siem Reap, helping with logistics, drinks and ingredients. We would also like to thank all the local businesses that generously offered prizes for the night.
The charity night brought together 133 people and we are proud to have raised $8,500 through the lucky draw and auction sale!
Beyond the fundraising, which is indispensable for our NGO, this event was the opportunity to bring together the ‘friends of Bayon School’ and demonstrate the professionalism and progress or our students.
If you would like to get involved and support our action, you can make a donation here or become a sponsor.
, 27 March 2019

The “green garden” project: our volunteer viewpoint

“For more than one year, nine women get up every day to feed the 250 students of Bayon School in vegetables. Deliveries of products to the Elodie’s canteen, watering, crop maintenance, compost and natural insecticides preparation… their days are very busy! Throughout the plantations, trainings and workshops, they acquire the essential skills to make the project and their personal satisfaction possible.
Engaged full time in this work, it is most of the time in their garden with a spade in hand that I greet them when I come to their place for the weekly visit. Welcomed by a big smile, my arrival is an opportunity for them to stop focusing on their vegetables. Then begins a conversation supported by the translator recruited for the project: checking of the plantation conditions, advices on the type of treatments to choose in case of diseases or insects attacks… Together, we learn daily how to react to unforeseen events due to chemical-free agriculture.
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During each visit we take time to address all topics: supplying seeds, providing small equipment to facilitate the work, reminding the delivery schedule. This technical support is essential but it is only one part of the job. Get news from the families, congratulate them to maintain willingness to continue, share experiences to create a sense of being part of a community, all these little things are part of our mission. Because each family has its own story, each visit has its anecdote. It’s important to keep in mind that sometimes everything does not work exactly as we planned or we would like. Thanks to the “green garden” project, we help families living in a difficult environment and naturally we put their needs first.
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This project is more than just a vegetable story! It is the upheaval of these women daily lives and an opportunity for them to gain real responsibilities and dignity through their work.
Each Wednesday, we organize meetings at Bayon Primary School during which our program becomes meaningful. Some are well prepared, others are always late, and each one with their own character, they come to sell their weekly harvest and to get paid for what they have delivered. Then, we elaborate the menu of the following week with the cook of the school. All gathered around a table, we can feel an incredible energy when they proudly announce their upcoming production. This energy provides to each the desire and the enthusiasm to continue and go further. Beyond the cultural differences and the language barrier, I feel we understand each other perfectly. This project is beautiful, gratifying, and fully deserves the effort and resources invested.”