From Dream to Reality: the Rotary School of Cambodia
A year ago the “Rotary School of Cambodia: BEL Building” wasn’t even a dream let alone the reality it is today.  Twenty five team members led by the Rotary Club of Bridgenorth-Ennismore- Lakefield and made up of Rotarians, family and friends, are home again after completing the three room school/multi use facility consisting of a classroom/library, sewing instruction room and teacher accommodation.  The school is on the site of the Rotary School that was built last year.
Above, members of the BEL club stand in front of the library corner of the classroom that will serve as an English classroom and a library classroom.
The atrocities of the Khmer Rouge in the mid to late ‘70s, left a generation of Cambodians without training and education, and this has made the country one of the poorest in the world.  Education is the key to the country’s rebuilding. 
For two very busy weeks, the team dug deep and thanks to the hard work and commitment of all members the school is ready for students.  “We knew it was going to hot, hard work” said BEL Rotary president Dave Tilley, “but even in the plus 40 degree temperatures and long days, we kept focussed on our goal”.  “The daily visits from local children and their families kept us motivated and kept in sight the importance of the job we were doing”.
The team arrived to landfill, piles of bricks, stones and sand (for mixing cement) rebar and steel and left with the building erected!  With the exception of a few finishing touches the school is ready for classes. The classroom/library will accommodate English classes for young children and adolescence.  The sewing room will provide local women with the opportunity to learn to sew and use this skill to start their own micro businesses, thus helping the economic situation of the community.
“It was amazing to see the day by day progress of the build”, said Helen Robinson.  “Each day we took a picture to remind us of how far we had come.  One day it was piles of bricks and the next day it was walls and a few days later there was a roof and cement floor”.
Although it was hard work, each day was filled with fun, and a true sense of accomplishment.  The construction equipment that we take for granted in Canada was non- existent and all of the work was done manually, from mixing and pouring concrete to moving materials. The frequent “bucket brigade” to move cement brought many laughs, and some of the team members ended up wearing a bit of cement.  “Who knew we would think so longingly about a cement mixer”, quipped team member Michael Davidson.
By opening ceremony day the school was painted, the classroom library set up, the solar power installed and posters and learning materials were on the walls.  In two short weeks the landfill and rubble became a school.  A poster over the classroom white board reads “Anything is Possible if You Try”.  This reflects not only the work of the team who completed the school but also the hope for the students who will be attending classes here: the hope for a better future for themselves, for their community and for their country.
For more pictures and the chronology of the build, visit