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Of Dreams and Spaces 遠夢筆築—自柬國茶膠的二三事 | 1 - A Beginning 故事伊始

April 5, 2016

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Of Dreams and Spaces 遠夢筆築—自柬國茶膠的二三事 | 1 - A Beginning 故事伊始

April 5, 2016

 

 Of Dreams and Spaces: Stories from Takeo, Cambodia 

《遠夢筆築—自柬國茶膠的二三事》

 

 

Seven months since we launched our first book, this series is going to be the tiny bit of the narrative journey woven by our experience. 

Of Dreams and Spaces is a collection of five years of thoughts and stories nurtured by designing, building and running village schools in Takéo, Cambodia. It is a conversation about differences — in values and cultures, of needs and visions, between “us” and “them” — and a conversation about connections. Through the many faces, voices, touches and traces encountered in Cambodia, Project Little Dream has made their way from indifference and unfamiliarity to similarity and family. Today, over five hundred children are studying English in four schools: in Prey Run Village, Khna Rong Village, Thon Mun Village and Thnouh Village. 

 

 

1. A Beginning
 

 Image:  MCCM Creations Facebook page

 


Project Little Dream began with a tiny but shared impulse. The fruit of 21st century technology of
e-mails being written in the basement of a university library. Earlier that day, both Clara and Francis, who had not met before, both emailed me to ask if that last chat about building a school in Cambodia was really happening. And so I replied them including fifteen friends, an email titled “I have a little dream — Building a school in Cambodia”. The email talked about how possible it could be. We knew some contacts from our Jesuit church and we had experiences in Boy Scout building with bamboo. We were going to study architecture, international development, and medicine. We thought we might even start a non-profit organisation at some point.

Although we were studying on three different continents, getting together to talk wasn’t the difficult part. I invited fifteen of my friends over and they all came, ready to commit. The tricky part was to answer the questions raised in the first few hours.

Why not build in China?
How much do we need?
How should we raise the money?
How do we build?


After five very long hours of heated discussion, we found answers we could accept. 
We thought China faced a more complicated problem than the lack of community services. China faced a very different socio-economical problem; with the inequality and uneven income distribution there, we thought that small-scale construction projects like ours would not be effective. That is why we chose Cambodia. We wanted to work with a country receptive to foreign NGOs and one that was forward-looking towards long-term reconstruction, which remained necessary after its civil war.

We set our budget at HKD 100,000 — a sum we thought we could raise in the coming year. Afterwards, we split into small teams. Most of us had studied together when we were younger, but since we were all at different universities now, we looked into how we could become an independent entity that carries out non-profit work. We also gathered all the contacts we had in order to know more about Cambodia. Those of us who were more interested in fundraising thought of a party in the summer. The last thing that held us back was perhaps the first thing we should have thought about.

“How do we know if they need a school?” Luke asked.

The room fell silent.

It was a question that even the local communities didn’t always know how to answer. Sometimes a more effective development strategy could be additional income sources instead of primary education. Maybe there were more orphans in a village that needed help instead… and the discussion went on as if the last five hours had never happened. 

“We should speak to someone who knows more organisations locally. Why don’t we talk to Camkids, in London? They sponsor numerous local groups. Maybe they can point us in the right direction?” Denise finally said.

A few months later, we visited Camkids in London. They recommended two community organisations to us that were in need of a school building. After a 3-hour flight from Hong Kong and then a 2-hour car ride, we arrived at the News Future Organisation in Takeo Province. We spent a week in town and also visited Prey Run Village. It took an hour, this time on tuk-tuk, to arrive at a village. Strangely, most of the children were nowhere to be seen until we slowly walked away from the main road into a cluster of houses. We heard sudden *claps* and *shhh...* in unison. A man’s clear voice, followed by hundreds of children.

“Today is the eighteenth”
“Eighteenth”

“of July”
“July”

“Two thousand, and, nine”
“Two thousand, and, nine”

 

 

 

1. 故事伊始

 

 Thnouh Village, Takeo 

 


夢.行動 (Project Little Dream) 源自大家一個共同的小念頭和二十一世紀發達的電子郵件技術。我們的故事萌芽於一個大學圖書館的地下室中。當日,素未謀面的 ClaraFrancis 二人分別致電我,打聽上次提及到柬埔寨蓋一所學校的事會否付諸實行。於是,我藉機寫了一封題為“我有一個小小的夢──到柬埔寨蓋一所學校”的郵件,並將其發給了我的15位朋友。郵件主要討論此事的可行性。我們能夠聯繫到耶穌會會堂的一些成員,而且我們也曾經參與過童軍訓練,學習過用竹子建造房屋。我們打算去研習建築學、國際發展學、藥學等相關專業。我們甚至有想過,也許,我們在未來的某一天還能成立一個慈善組織。

 

儘管我們均於異地求學,但要創造一起討論的機會也非難事。那15位朋友接受了我的邀請,承諾加入夢.行動。然而,當時最棘手的是要先回答以下幾項提問:

 

為什麼不把項目定址於中國?

我們需要多少預算?

我們如何籌集善款?

我們要怎麼建呢?

 

經過長達五個小時的激烈討論,我們為上述問題找到了合理的答案。首先,我們認為中國的問題相對複雜,並非僅僅源自社區服務不足,而是與社會不公及貧富懸殊相關,是一種截然不同的社會經濟問題。我們認為夢.行動的小型建築項目未能就中國的社會問題提供有效幫助,於是,我們最終定點柬埔寨。柬埔寨內戰後百廢待興,該國歡迎國外非營利機構前來造福本地的國家之一,特別是長期性的重建項目。

 

當時,我們將預算定於港幣十萬元,因為我們相信團隊能夠在未來一年順利籌募這個金額。隨後,我們組建了許多小團隊,其中大部份成員都曾經是我們的同窗。由於我們在不同的大學唸書,當務之急便是建立一個合理有效的體制,設立獨立小組,獨立完成相關指定工作。我們聯繫了所有相識的人,以便進一步了解柬埔寨。對籌集善款感興趣的成員們想到了要在夏天舉辦一個籌款派對。一切似乎進展順利。然而,最後一個令我們止步不前的問題出現了,而這個問題本應是我們早該想到的問題。

 

「我們怎麼知道他們需要一所學校呢?」Luke 問道。

 

室內頓時鴉雀無聲。

 

這是問題連當地社區本身都未必能夠知曉答案。因為,有時候當地也許需要開拓收入來源,而非推行基礎教育;又興許村莊中有更多孤兒需要安置……大家七嘴八舌地發表意見,剛過去五小時的討論彷彿付諸流水。

 

「我們應該先找到一個對當地慈善有一定了解的人。也許我們可以聯繫倫敦的Camkids?畢竟他們資助過好多當地的慈善組織,也許他們能給我們指出一條清晰可行的路!」
Denise 最後發言道。

 

幾個月後,我們拜訪了Camkids。他們為我們推薦了兩間有意在當地建校的社區組織。坐了長達三個小時的飛機,再加兩個小時的車程,我們終於由香港來到位於茶膠 New Future Organisation。我們在小鎮上待了一個星期,並拜訪了普瑞阮村。後來,我們又再坐上「篤篤」顛簸了一個小時,最後到了一個小村莊。奇怪的是路上一直未見小孩的蹤影。直到我們離開大路慢慢走近村舍的時候,才有小孩陸續探出好奇的小腦袋。我們隨即聽到不約而同的拍掌聲以及噓聲。原來,是一位老師,帶領著過百位小孩朗讀:

 

「今天是二零零九年」

「今天是二零零九年」

 

「七月」

「七月」

 

「十八號」

「十八號」

 

 

 

Of Dreams and Spaces: Stories from Takeo, Cambodia :
《遠夢筆築—自柬國茶膠的二三事》:

http://www.littledream.org/#!product-page/uwn0h/8fe8f05f-951e-1563-b917-88adf8284543

 

 

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