Welcome to the Anjali House Blog!
Here you will read regular updates from inside Anjali. Hear from our students, participants in our Young Adult Program, volunteers, staff, and more! Stay up to date with all the latest happenings by following us on Facebook @AnjaliHouse and on Twitter and Instagram @Anjali_House. Sign up for our quarterly Newsletter for an in-depth look at our activities, fundraising goals, and for more ways to get involved.
Creativity is one of the rocks Anjali House was built on. In a multitude of creative activities, Anjali House fosters the creative thinking of its 120 students. To illustrate this focus, read about how Anjali House encourages free expression of emotions through a creative writing workshop. Creativity, used both by pedagogues as well as children, is generally perceived as the basis of a multitude of beneficial skills and perspectives. At the very core, creativity entails the idea of “do it yourself”. Creativity means the power to create something, to do something anew; it means independence, self-reliance and self-responsibility. When we engage in creative activities, we are seeking out our own ways of going about them (“Do I want to paint the picture in this or that style?”) and we look for solutions (“The colours don’t look the way they should. I need to try a different kind.“). Most importantly, we learn to look at things from our own perspective, we learn to question and optimise familiar approaches because we try out our own. Aside from it’s many wonderful side effects, this is where creativity’s main significance may lie: in enabling us to go further. Especially in educational development work, creativity can thus be a tool to encourage individuals to be proactive and find methods and perspectives on their own, enabling them and their communities to develop in a way that is best for them. Creative writing workshop A recent example of how Anjali House encourages these mental skills is the creative writing workshop performed by its partner NGO Writing Through once every year. Over the course of five days in January, the students wrote poems and short stories as a group and individually, approaching the topic of “Taking Risks”. Even though the workshop is always conducted entirely in English, language fluency is a desired side effect but not a requirement. As Jess Blackledge, the assistant director of Writing Through, explains, the main goal of the workshop is to enable the students to practice conceptual and creative thinking rather than language fluency. As Ms. Blackledge highlights, conceptual thinking is at the heart of creativity. It enables us to derive ideas from ourself and not from others, to connect our thoughts to outside influences by comparing and challenging, to think in our own ways and to find our own perspectives. Hence one of the rules of the workshop formulates: “Use the back of your brain” – you have all the interesting ideas within you, you don’t need to get them from anywhere else. Free expression of emotions This might be one of the reasons why the student’s works are often deeply personal and emotional as this is really unusual in Cambodian culture. Here, emotions are barely ever openly discussed. According to Ms. Blackledge, this unusually free expression of emotions is due to the form of poetry. This type of writing offers a very free way of expression and is also something new for most of the students who first attend the workshop. As a result, it won’t come as a surprise that the presentation of their work often is almost as emotionally challenging as the work is itself: “At the end of each workshop we have something called the “Big Event” where the students stand up in front of...read more
At Anjali House, volunteers are essential to help us achieve our mission which is to help our students develop into healthy, well-adjusted young adults, equipped with the skills they need to be successful in their future endeavours. Together, we share the same values and goals. You want to know how? Let’s hear what our students have to say. In order to improve the lives of underprivileged children, young adults and their families on a long-term basis, Anjali House is strongly supported by project based, administrative, communications, fundraising and classroom volunteers. During their work here, the fundraising volunteers implement strategies with the aim to increase the organisation’s visibility online. Volunteers from all over the world also come to the school to support our Khmer teachers and assist them with their English classes through the organisation of workshops. Without our project based volunteers, such as the helpers in our organic garden, an increasing amount of nutritional ingredients for the daily meals would be missing and the children wouldn’t have the chance to learn to grow fruits and vegetables. Others help with building new showers and bathrooms to ensure the children’s basic care. Along with our students, we want to celebrate all our past and current volunteers who make Anjali House what it is today: a safe and happy environment where children can grow, learn, play and make friends. If you want to volunteer, please visit our page to know more...read more
The United Nations has long installed the 25th of November as the “International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women”. In Cambodia, as in many other countries, still lingers a powerful idea of gender roles – what women or men should or should not do, what their characteristics are and what their positions and jobs should contain. These ideas, often in combination with other issues such as lack of education, drug abuse or general mental issues, are many times the root cause of various forms of violence against females as they are often perceived as less valuable or capable. The students at Anjali House, like so many other children, have vast experiences with many forms of domestic violence and they are at risk of reproducing these structures if they cannot break the cycle. This is why Anjali House puts a special focus on educating its students on such social issues present in their community. Our teenagers talked about their personal experiences. We took the 25th of November as an occasion to organize a workshop for our young adults in association with “Women’s Resource Center” (WRC), a Siem Reap based NGO. This organization aims to help Cambodian women with personal consultations and workshops covering health issues, parenting strategies, positive discipline, finance managing, gender roles and of course, domestic violence. An educator from the WRC came over on the 24th of November to conduct this workshop, discussing with our young adults’ students what domestic violence is, how it can be caused and helped. Most importantly, the teenagers got to talk about their personal experiences and they were so surprisingly ready. We asked them why learning about domestic violence is important and how they will use the information they received in their everyday life: “I learned about how to reduce and prevent domestic violence. I think this workshop was important because now I know how to speak to offenders when violence happens.” “Now, I feel I am prepared to talk with someone who is a victim of domestic violence and help. I also feel more comfortable to share my problems with friends for example (…)” “It was important because when violence happens on me or on one of my family member, I know how to react.” Note: All young adults wanted to remain...read more
Pheakdey is a seventeen-year-old twelfth grade student and he is currently studying at Anjali House. His mother is a homemaker and his father is a Tuk Tuk driver. With four siblings, Pheakdey’s family cannot afford to think past basic survival. As a consequence, Pheakdey could not follow basic hygiene principles. Before being enrolled at Anjali House, he had never brushed his teeth and was taking a shower only once a week, most of the time without soap and shampoo. “I didn’t know how to take care of myself before I came to Anjali House. Here, I learned how to brush my teeth and clean my body.” explains Pheakdey.Pheakdey did not suffer from any major diseases when he joined the NGO but could report he had many skin infections in the past. Vuthy is also seventeen years old and his mother is a homemaker. His father is selling handmade bedding items in the rural areas of Siem Reap. Vuthy and his sister used to sell flowers at night in the city center of Siem Reap. After long hours of work, he would often forget to shower and never brushed his teeth. Basic survival was a challenge. During his time working in the street, he never ate breakfast. In addition, the daily food he consumed lacked the necessary nutrients to allow his body to build up his immune system and Vuthy reported that before joining Anjali House, he fell sick and tired a lot of times. “I used to be sick because of the food we ate at home. Sometimes the fish was not clean or fresh enough and I had terrible stomach aches. Today, I enjoy eating breakfast and lunch at Anjali House. I like the taste of the food and I don’t have diarrhea anymore” reports Vuthy. Why access to basic care is crucial for learning. “The stories of Pheakdey and Vuthy illustrate well many of the health problems affecting underprivileged Cambodian children associated with insufficient basic hygiene, poor diet and unclean drinking water. Through years of activities working with children, we could observe that not only is nutrition important for physical health but also for the mental health of children. Without vital nutrition, our students cannot maintain the adequate energy levels, concentration and enthusiasm for learning, which we know they all possess,” explains Simon Ke, Director at Anjali House. She adds: “At Anjali House, personal hygiene is crucial. We want our students to be healthy. It is important they understand how basic hygiene impacts their health and school life.” Both Pheakdey and Vuthy’s struggles came to end when they were enrolled at Anjali House. As with all of the students, both are now provided with two nutritious meals per day including rice, proteins and vegetables. They also bathe every day at the center and have access to basic hygiene products such as soap, shampoo, toothbrushes, and tubes of toothpaste. More importantly, all students are educated on how and when to properly use these items through basic hygiene workshops which our social worker runs several times a year. Pheakdey, Vuthy and all our students also benefit from health check-ups twice a year at a local hospital. “I now understand the benefits of basic hygiene principles. I take a daily shower at the center and I also can wash my clothes...read more
During the ten years that Anjali House has operated, one success story stands out as proof that with access to quality education, the right guidance and determination, anyone can achieve his or her goals. The story is about a former student, Roun, who has reached his dream of becoming a professional photographer. Roun grew up in a rural part of Cambodia in a poor family. His parents are farmers and have 7 children. None of his siblings have graduated from school. In Roun’s hometown, the education level is quite low. The teachers are also farmers and instead of working at school, they need to work in the rice fields in order to afford a living. Roun’s grandfather wanted him to have a better future, so Roun moved with his him to Siem Reap when he was thirteen years old. Both were living in a pagoda. Sadly, soon after they arrived, Roun’s grandfather died. A “nanny” from the pagoda decided to take care of Roun and found Anjali House. This provided him with an opportunity to have a better education, and access to nutritious food and sanitation. For a few years while studying at Anjali House, Roun attended the yearly photography workshops organized by the Angkor Photo Festival. This is where he found his passion for photography and has never let it go. Last year, Roun had an opportunity to attend a professional photography workshop and develop his skills even further. Now, Roun is a professional tutor during the photography workshops at Anjali House and is working as a professional photographer in Siem Reap. “I am thrilled to be able to share my knowledge with the students at Anjali House who come from the same background as me. Anjali House is a place where dreams can come true. I am a living example” says Roun. Watch the video about Roun’s story and his journey towards becoming a professional photographer and living his dream. Click here to learn more about our Education...read more
This is the story of Rattana. He had been an Anjali House student for more than nine years and is now studying law at university through a scholarship offered by the NGO and its partner Chance2study. From a poor background where access to education and healthcare was not conceivable to having a bright future ahead of him, what Rattana has managed to achieve is nothing short of inspiring. The photo essay illustrates Rattana’s memories of his journey (Click on the images to move forward). Rattana grew up in a very poor area of Cambodia with very little access to quality education. Growing up in a large family of six children, it was not easy to survive. His road to Anjali House begins with his mother. When Rattana was ten years old his mother died from cancer. With only his father left to earn a living for the entire family and take care of the house, the task was too much. About three months after his mother’s death, Rattana and his younger brother were enrolled at Anjali House. With the support of the NGO, he has achieved things he could never have imagined. Anjali House provided him with essentials like education, healthcare, nutritious food as well as life skills. The educational support through Anjali House’s Young Ad ult Program helped him graduate from high school. Rattana is now studying Law at Build Bright University in Siem Reap supported by Anjali House and its partner Chance2Study. He is also working as an assistant librarian at the Center for Khmer Studies. With energy and ambition, Rattana is also applying to continue his studies in the USA. “In the future, I want to be a lawyer and a professional politician. My aims are to fight against poverty and corruption. I want to help develop Cambodia to be a modern country and a strong democratic country. I believe my country needs people like me, even though I may have started out poor.” Click on the link to learn more about our Young Adult program: https://anjali-house.com/project/young-adult-program/ Photo essay by Lilu...read more
Karona’s journey that led her to Anjali House is both full of struggles and happiness. She was living in a rural part of Cambodia with her family – mother, father and her sister. They were fishing to earn their living and they were happy as a family. Everything changed when her parents got divorced and her father remarried and abandoned Karona, her sister and mother. Read Karona’s illustrated story below (Click on the first image). Because of limited job opportunities in rural parts of Cambodia, Karona’s mother had a hard time finding a job. Daily survival was a challenge. The mother could not afford paying for the uniforms and stationery for the girls to go to the local school. She could not buy food and all their clothes were dirty. Without many options, her mother had to move to a bigger town – Siem Reap – where she found a job as a cleaner. The mother could not take both girls along with her. Karona, being the eldest, had to stay behind and live with some family friends for more than two years. She felt very lonely. But then, Karona’s mother found Anjali House, and the family could be together again. Karona moved to Siem Reap and was enrolled at Anjali House with her sister. Both are now receiving a proper education, eating two nutritious meals a day and taking showers to keep themselves clean and healthy. However, soon after Karona moved back with her family , her mother lost her job. All of them were scared and were left without any money to pay the rent or buy food.. Anjali House counseled the mother and concerned with the situation, found another job for her. Karona is happy again. She is attending the local school in the morning and in the afternoon is learning English, arts and computer science at Anjali House. She has made many of friends and has hope for her future. She wants to become a teacher. Karona’s story is shown in an illustration that depicts her journey from thpse happy times as a family together, through the times where she had to struggle every day, and then back to being happy once again. She is only one of many students at Anjali House who are facing hardships , but have been given an opportunity to change their lives and become children again. Story written and illustrated by Lilu...read more
On October 5th we celebrate World Teachers’ Day. Theavy, Sitha, Samrith, Bunthorng are our super star teachers. Their commitment to Anjali House is commendable. We want to thank them for the life changing work they have accomplished with their students. Here are some stories they want to share with us which make them proud to do what they are doing. Theavy is teaching our 6 to 8 year old students. She started working at Anjali House in 2016 and loves teaching and helping the children. “I love teaching because I can spread knowledge. I especially like to work with the children because they bring me happiness. In my class, I insist on hygiene, school rules and discipline. Before I start a lesson, I always remind my students to take a shower and after the class break I tell them to brush their teeth because I want them to be healthy. Moreover, there are healthcare posters on the walls of the class. Even if it is sometimes hard to get their attention and make them change, I try to build it up day after day. I also encourage students to be good people in the society. I want to see all Anjali House’s students become good citizens of Cambodia.” Sitha teaches our 11 to 13 year old students. He arrived in April 2017. Here he talks about one of his students, Karona: “Karona is a very industrious and a smart girl in my class. She helps cleaning the classroom and I don’t even have to ask her. Karona is also very caring and committed in the class. I see her quite often explaining the lessons to her friends and her sister when they need help. She always tries her best in every class and is always happy to do so. Her test results are improving every month. In July she got a score of 62 and in August, she scored 67. I am sure she will pass all her exams…she has what it takes to succeed. ” Samrith is the young adults’ coordinator. He started in October 2016 and wants to help students set up clear goals for their future and encourage them to reach their full potential. Today he wants to share the story of Pheakdey: “He is one of my top students. Pheakdey is very active and hardworking. He is going to graduate from high school this year. He has been working so hard on his graduation preparation. In addition to his busy schedule with his high school work, he contributes to Anjali House and does community services. He assists teachers to run creative workshops. Pheakdey is also very good at graphic design. He spends a lot of time working on “Photoshop” and teaches his friends how to use it. Because he is very talented with technology, he wants to pursue his higher education in Information Technology. I am convinced that with his hard work and the support from his family and Anjali House, he will be able to reach his goal towards a bright future.” Learn more about our Education...read more
Our young adults are encouraged to become involved in community services. Using their holiday time, some of them have decided to volunteer at Anjali House to help the youngest children develop new skills. Panha, Sokil and Sokuam are amongst the young adults who are organizing daily workshops about their favorite topics: IT, Arts and English. Panha is teaching English and computer skills. He explains, “Most of the young students at Anjali House have never touched a computer. I had the idea to use a video game – “Mario Kart” – so they can start learning how to use a keyboard and have fun at the same time. For example, they have to use the arrows to move the Mario character on the screen. This makes them practice”. Sokhea is teaching art and is loving it. She tutors the children how to draw simple shapes and their shadows. “Since the children are very young, their drawings are sometimes very funny” adds Sokhea. Sokuam volunteers as an English tutor and organizes games in English. He has been doing this for 6 months and at times can find it challenging: “Sometimes, the students don’t listen or make too much noise. At first, I did not know how to react. Now, if the students are not behaving properly, I stop the class and ask them to settle down. I have discovered that teaching is a difficult job but I like it when I see the children learn thanks to my efforts. That encourages me.” Ingenious, caring, resilient…these three have shown great leadership skills. All of them want to continue teaching after they graduate from high school. Sokuam and Panha would like to become English teachers and Sokhea, a kindergarten teacher. Click on the link to learn more about our Young Adult program:...read more
During a ceremony in September, Anjali House provided bicycles and helmets to all the students who did not have one before. Fun but also educational, the event included a road safety workshop to raise awareness about the traffic rules, road signs and the importance of wearing a helmet. The safety of our students is an important matter. This is why Anjali House provides bicycles for the students to ensure their safety on their way home as well as to help them be on time for classes. During the ceremony, the students were educated about road safety, traffic, traffic lights and road signs. A large part of the training was about the importance of wearing a helmet. “Here in Cambodia, most of the children do not wear helmets when they ride a bicycle. In Siem Reap, it is particularly dangerous considering the traffic in the city and the lack of public lights at night. ” says Pheakdey, one of the tutor of the workshop. After the presentation, the students’ knowledge was tested about the topics that were discussed. They were asked questions about road signs, traffic and proper use of a helmet. To encourage everyone to participate, children were rewarded for giving the right answers. The bicycles were sponsored by 99Bikes, our partner in Australia. Many thanks for helping us keep our students safe. Click here to learn more about our Education program:...read more