Prey Svay is a quiet village with a beautiful Cambodian traditional school near the Commune house.
This time the setup has been more peaceful. We have been very lucky to have had Kearoth Sok as our assistant; he is Entrepreneurs Manager in Teuk Saat and a very kind man that is always willing to help. The evening before the activity started, we went to the school with Kearoth and the school director, so we had the chance to explore the spaces that we could use without disturbing the normal school life. Next morning, when we arrived the playground was already full. Although the exhibition trapped people’s attention by itself, older and younger appreciated and enjoyed listening to a guided tour across the thirty views on water from the international artists that had arrived to the school.
More than one hundred children, their teachers, the chief of the village, the women who sell fruits and snacks in the school and some other villagers gathered around to discover what was behind every snapshot, what their imagination suggested them. Some just stared at the photographs, others touched them and commented between whispers and laughs.
Identifying problems and seeking for solutions
One of Teuk Saat’s working lines is educating to improve the hygiene and the use of safe water. That’s the reason why in this village we have focused on supporting their efforts with our activities. We started with an activity to identify the community’s perception of their water problems. We asked the participants to tell us about what they thought the most important village’s water issues were. Everybody was very engaged in the activity, even the teachers and other older members of the community.
The expressions were very varied, from red fishes and water lilies to chemical fertilizers. Regarding the perception of their water problems, three trends were observed: floodings, polluted water in ponds and littering. Afterwards, we collected the drawings and showed them integrated in the exhibition. The kids enjoyed watching each other’s pictures hanging all together. They discussed about the meaning of the pictures sharing their opinions both out loud and in small groups.
Based on this, we developed a photo-comic activity with the 5th and 6th grade students. We deepened in the drawings by embodying them. We understood the problems and we imagined and created stories that could characterize them. Later, we looked for the main scenes of the story and captured those images with the camera. We printed them and shared them with the school in big boards.
The 6th grade class was the first one; we divided them in small groups to perform different topics, but all of them chose the same one: drinking unsafe water. The stories were very similar, but the students seemed to appreciate the small differences in the details of each one. They were very excited going up and down, looking for better ways to build an expressive set up that helped to tell the stories.
Next morning, the 5th grade students were more autonomous, as they’d had time to reflect and the 6th grade example to follow. In order not to tell again the same stories, we proposed them to choose among four topics: the importance of washing hands; eating and cooking hygiene; the problem of open defecation; keeping the water tank clean.
The three posters with the ten WATER PHOTO-COMICS were included in the exhibition. This was very well received by the school board, who celebrated the chance of keeping it in their playground when we left.
Our supporters in Prey Svay
We would really like to thank Teuk Saat and the commune for hosting us at the commune house. Especially, to the director of the school and his lovely family, for having made us feel home.
Besides, this time someone has really made a difference and has also enriched our work: Kearoth Sok, thanks for your assistance and for sharing your music and poems with us.