Education et Santé
pour les enfants du monde

News

Many of you will have heard the sad news of the death of Nic Sommer on 12 March, after five weeks in hospital.

Nic was born into a family of musicians and, himself, wanted to be pianist. But his life took another direction and he became a journalist. As a key member of the communications team at the ICRC, he travelled the globe, often finding himself in very difficult situations. Everything he wrote was crafted with finesse and his reports were rigorously documented and often accompanied with photographs from the ICRC archives taken by his friend Chamrong LO.

A long-time friend of Pam Walsh OBE, founder of our association, and of Chamrong LO, founder of our school in Cambodia, Nic was always close to Don du Choeur. In 2009, that engagement led him to bring his journalistic experience to bear in editing Don du Choeur’s newsletter and website. For ten years he offered his advice and input with modesty and elegance, but also with limitless humour and generosity.

We have lost a friend and counsellor and a reference point in the humanitarian domain, who has made his own very special mark on our association.

Our thoughts are with Nic and his family,

Isabelle Chatel

and all the friends of Don du Choeur

What’s happening in Cambodia? How are the 600 young people of Ta Pen coping?   Here, we reply to some of the questions you have been asking.

The situation in Cambodia

The rapid spread of COVID-19 affects us all and has not spared Cambodia, which has closed its borders. Although the number of confirmed cases is, according to official figures, still very small (122 cases as of 16 April, 30 of which were French tourists travelling in the region of Ta Pen!), constraints have been firmly placed on the movement of the population. Schools have been closed since 16 March. The celebration of the Khmer New Year has been cancelled by the authorities and travel restricted at provincial level.

Impact on the Ta Pen school

All the children have stopped their studies and returned to working in the fields to help their parents. We do not know for how long. Before the school closed, the primary and secondary pupils received training from our partner, Bandos Komar, on COVID-19 and the precautions to be taken to protect themselves (and their families) and stop the spread of the virus.

For the moment, all our Cambodian colleagues, friends and pupils are in good health. Many of you have been asking about them and they are extremely touched by your sense of solidarity. The school’s employees and teachers are being paid in full for the moment. We will reconsider the wage policy of Don du Choeur at the beginning of May in line with the current situation.

Impact on the “postgrad” students

Our students studying at the high school in Bakong and those following professional training at Siem Reap have all returned home to their parents in Ta Pen after having successfully completed their first semester. We congratulate them all!

During this period, we will no longer finance their schooling but will keep their lodgings in town so they can pick up their studies again as soon as the schools reopen.

Impact on families

As you know, the standard of living of rural families in Ta Pen still remains very low, even though it has increased significantly over the last few years thanks, to a large extent, to the presence of the school. The demand for agricultural products (in particular mangoes, which are cultivated everywhere in Ta Pen) has taken a big hit because of the closure of hotels and restaurants. Tourism has ceased. If this crisis is prolonged, Ta Pen risks falling into a survival economy.

In this difficult situation, we wish to stay close to our most vulnerable families. We are distributing produce from the school vegetable garden to them to supplement the rice being offered by the State. We will also assist families whose children have to be hospitalized.

The Ta Pen school plays an important supporting role for families in difficulty and is helping to prepare for a careful lifting of restrictions … whenever that might be.

Some new videos on our YouTube channel ! (Subscribe !)

 
People were especially generous at the 9 May concert:
the collection raised CHF 15,938, more than at any of 
our previous concerts. Thanks to this we shall be able
to build ALL the rehearsal rooms. Click HERE
Huge thanks to all for your generosity and your 
presence at the Victoria Hall.
 

Patrick is not really a new face – he was accompanist for the 2016 concert. His musical activities are many and varied, from leading a jazz band (The Nyon Lights) to classical singing to musically directing shows for GAOS. Here’s a little more about the man behind the engaging smile.