SKOPE (I) visited a couple of primary schools in Kampong Thom in November last year where several different projects were suggested to me. Our return trip in March saw us handing out exercise books and stationary to 900 students (amalgamated from two different schools). We also donated sports supplies and games. Now we’re heading back to complete the second request: a library.
I love to read. Always have. It comes in fits and spurts and sometimes I’ll go for months without reading anything. Other times I’ll become completely engrossed, moving seamlessly from one novel to another, devouring the words on the pages as fast as I can. So I was more than happy to put my effort and the finances of SKOPE behind a library project. The school in question has an onsite library and the only problem is the lack of books. Now, I’m no expert but books are a pretty fundamental part of creating a library.
The school’s headteacher has arranged a timetable to ensure each of the school’s classes visit the library every week, exposing them as much as possible to reading and literature from an early age. The only problem is, the kids are bored. They’ve read all the books suitable for their age range, of which there were only ever a handful. How can we expect kids to become passionate about reading if we don’t have engaging texts for them to explore? Well, thanks to SKOPE, they soon will.
I held my first fundraiser in Cambodia to raise the money for this project. Whilst visiting my sister in Perth, Australia, last year, I had come across a gimmick in a bookshop I wanted to try out. It’s called Blind Date with a Book. The premise; the books are wrapped up so you can’t see what the title is and you choose what you want to buy based on limited summary points on the front of them. Fun, quirky, and unusual. Perfect.
It took ages to get the books ready but it was a lot of fun and a way of remembering back over the books I’d read over the past couple of years. Almost all the books we sold were one I’d accumulated during my time in Cambodia. Next we needed a venue. I asked permission from one of my favourite restaurants for me to hold the fundraising event one Saturday morning where I knew footfall would be high. Helped by Sovann Komar’s current intern, we set up our display and prepared for customers to arrive.
To be honest, I wasn’t exactly optimistic about raising a huge amount of money but I was blown away by the support I received. Although many of my friends here in the city also came along to support SKOPE, the vast majority of our customers were strangers who had seen our advertisement on Facebook. In fact, we almost ran out of books and were generously restocked by my friends Emily and Josh. Other buyers offered to donate their own books beforehand, should I want to do the same fundraiser in the future which was wonderful.
With the money raised, I went to visit the head offices of Sipar, a Khmer language book publisher. They had an eclectic mix of titles from my first words to a translation of Pippi Longstocking, non-fiction books about Cambodian history and traditional moral tales. I put in an order for 120 books and we’ll be delivering them some time in September or October!
Thanks once again to everyone who came along that day and supported us. Keep an eye out both on this blog and our Facebook page for any upcoming projects and fundraisers you might want to get involved in.