New Day continues to support Performing Arts School girls in Xining, Qinghai Province – September 2015


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In September 2015, New Day funded a grant of USD 33,092 to support a group of 12 girls for the academic year 2015-2016. This is the second year that we have supported this group of girls who are receiving a core education alongside their studies in dance and painting. This second grant was agreed after we had received detailed reports on each girl on their progress so far. Some have found the step into formal high school education a major challenge as they are usually behind in core subjects and have to work hard at weekends to close the gap. Nevertheless, significant progress has been made and the school extended the offer to each and every girl to continue in the program, in itself a major achievement for the group. If they continue to thrive they will be awarded formal certificates when they graduate in 2017, allowing them to have infinitely more choices than had they remained as yak herders on the plateau (the fate of most girls in rural Tibet). These certificates will be recognized across China, allowing the girls to apply for further education or jobs in all geographic areas.

The girls live in the school during the week and share an apartment at weekends. This apartment has been developed into a training area as well as a living space (this development was funded by New Day in last year’s grant). This year’s grant will cover

-Tuition fees

-Living expenses

-Apartment rent

-Living and tuition costs (in another school) for 2 further (older) girls who support the core 12. They cook and clean for them when they return to the apartment at weekends.

Members of New Day will recall that this cohort of girls originate from the Seng Girls  school in Darlag, Golog, which is about 12 hours drive away on the Tibetan plateau.  This school is run by Dockpo (and his charity LOVEQTRA) and continues to flourish with some 160 girls from desperately impoverished backgrounds, the poorest of the poor. As well as core educational skills, the older girls are given vocational training in cooking and tailoring as well as the all-important Tibetan Opera troupe that tours China in the summer months. The major challenge is finding opportunities for the girls as they get older. Some are being educated in Shenzhen (at Project Eden http://captivating.org/blog/category/project-eden/), some have returned to schools in their home towns, seven are training to be medical assistants and New Day’s group of 12 are the pioneers at the Xining Performing Arts school.

Below are some pictures of the girls in their apartment:Desks Beds 2 girls at desk 2 girls at desk

kitchen girls eating at table

2015 New Day Grant to Matara Girls’ Home

New Day has funded a grant of US$28,100 for the period June 2015 to June 2016.  The grant will be disbursed in two bi-annual installments and spent according to ongoing consultation and agreements between the Matara committee and New Day.  The funds will primarily be used for tutoring and extra vocational classes and to cover the salaries of all staff at the home (matrons, admin officer, accountant, counselor and tutors).  Remaining grant money will cover operational expenses including building maintenance.

New Day is delighted to support Matara once again.

 

New Day Visit to Matara Girls’ Home – April 2015

Matara Girls, April 2015.

In April three New Day families visited the Matara Home on two separate occasions, introducing their children to the girls, meeting staff and teachers and joining in the celebrations as the Home marks its’ 80th year.  We were treated to a concert by the girls and attended an art exhibition that they held to auction off their beautiful paintings and handiwork.

Matara Buddhist Girls’ Home is located an hour south of Galle in Sri Lanka.  It is an orphanage caring for girls who are referred to by local social services.  Run on a a small budget and dependent on in-kind donations of food and goods from the community, the Home has limited access to outside funding.  Since June 2014 New Day has been providing anchor funding to pay staff salaries, provide after school activities and tutoring to the girls and take care of repairs and running costs as needed.  To get a feel for the project and the experience of visiting please enjoy the below site visit reports from New Day members Stephanie Early and Maxine Gross. you can also view a slide show here:  My Movie – Small

Dancing with the girls after their concert.

Dancing with the girls after their concert.

Paul and I and our 3 children were lucky enough to have the opportunity to visit Matara Home for Girls with Chris and Liza Green and their 3 children in April this year. From the moment we arrived we were greeted very warmly by the matrons and other staff and with big beautiful smiles from the 26 girls who live at the home.  There was lots of giggling and hiding behind one another as the girls showed us around their home, all of them feeling a little shy but at the same time extremely keen to interact with their visitors.  We spent some time playing some games to try and “break the ice” however most of the girls were distracted by their upcoming show that they were performing for us that afternoon.  There was much activity in the home finalizing costumes, warming up instruments and practicing dance moves.  We were ushered into the hall and joined by the girls’ teachers and other important members of the Matara home community.  It was lovely to speak with the teachers who are funded by New Day to provide the girls with extra curricular educational activities such as Dance, Science, English and Computers.  The teachers were all very positive about the girls progress, commitment and enjoyment of these classes.  It became apparent to me very quickly however that these extra curricular classes offered so much more than enjoyment and something to do after school.  These classes are vital for these girls to learn as much as they can and develop essential skills to better prepare them to navigate the world outside of Matara home when they turn 18.  In the absence of a dowry these girls have limited opportunities to find a husband and have a family which is the traditional role of most  Sri Lankan women.  New Day funding these classes helps the girls to further their education and hopefully give them other options as they prepare for adulthood without a husband or family to support them.  
Stephanie and Paul Early and Liza and Chris Green with Matara staff.

Stephanie and Paul Early and Liza and Chris Green with Matara staff.

For the next hour and half of our visit we enjoyed an amazing performance that included all the girls from 6 years old to nearly 18.  They danced, sang, played musical instruments, wore intricate colorful costumes, presented short spoken English pieces about who they were and even treated us to some comic songs and skits.  We applauded, were impressed, laughed, clapped and were submersed in the world of the girls from Matara.  My greatest pleasure was seeing all the girls involved, excited and extremely happy in who they were and what they were doing throughout the show.  “We have been practising and rehearsing this show for 1 year” one of the girls told me.  I was blown away and the significance of what we had just watched increased ten fold.  The shy little girls with the big smiles that we met 2 hours ago had disappeared by the time the show was finished.  We now saw 26 energized and animated girls who wanted to play games and dance and sing and laugh with our children…….this day was extremely important to the girls at the Matara home.  As we left the home that evening I hoped that every one of those girls went to bed that night thinking happy thoughts about their day and feeling as proud of themselves as we, their community and teachers were.

Stephanie Early

Dancing together and attending the girls art exhibition in Matara town.

Attending the girls art exhibition in Matara town.

Isabella and Ava Gross enjoying the afternoon with the girls in front of the main entrance to the Home.

Enjoying the afternoon with the girls in front of the main entrance to the Home.

It was a wonderful experience visiting the Matara girls home for myself, Isabella and Ava. It was beneficial to see one of the projects we contribute towards, to meet the people, and chat about their needs. Milly talked to me about how they are trying to improve their garden / outdoor space at the moment and hopefully build a bit of a playground for the girls. It was especially wonderful for my girls to see first hand those that are less fortunate than them and how they can bring them much happiness just by spending some time with them and introducing them to some activities they may not have played or done before. We all had a lot of fun with water pistols to cool off and relax in each others company and then with simple games such as skipping ropes, jacks, throwing balls, marbles and hop scotch! The Matara girls also introduced us to some of their dances and music. We also bought some of the girls paintings, which was a great way that each of the girls in the home could start to earn and save some of their own money,  as the money from any of their own works sold at an exhibition goes into their own accounts. We will definitely stay in touch with them and look forward to hearing about ways we can help in the future.

Maxine Gross

New Day is delighted to be supporting this project and will be making a second grant in June .  However there is so much more we can do – the Home is in need of repairs, new furniture, work in the outdoor yard and much more.  They also appreciate any input and ideas on how they can provide brighter futures for the girls once they leave the Home and look for a job or begin further education. We invite members to come forward if want to get more involved with his project. New Day would like to arrange a working visit to the Home in early 2016 to undertake some painting and renovations and spend time with the girls.  Please contact us if you are interested in joining.

February 2015 Update – Our 14 sponsored SGVTS girls at the Xining Vocational Art School

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In October 2014 New Day gave a grant to LOVEQTRA for HK$203,000 (RMB159,000) to support 14 SGVTS girls through a year of training at a vocational art and dance school in Xining. By way of background the Beijing Government is promoting and encouraging cultural preservation and history and millions of dollars are being invested throughout China to promote a cultural dance performance known as the King Gesar Opera.  Thanks to the efforts of DockPo who runs the SGVTS school, many of the girls have become talented dancers of King Gesar Opera and these 14 girls have been given an amazing opportunity to further their skills. Not only that, at completion of their 3 year scholarship program, these girls will start being trained to run and manage an office of the King Gesar Opera in a capital city.

The girls live and study at the school during the week and then return to their New Day sponsored apartment on the weekends for rest and further study.  All 14 girls are working hard to stay on top of their academic studies while devoting themselves to the rigorous dance training (and for some, art training).  We received this letter from one of the girls, Yeshetsomo, thanking New Day for our support and explaining her passion for dance and her need to also focus on her academic achievements.

Ganxiexin270 thank you letter

This is not an easy path for the girls but the hope is that they will be able to support themselves in the future and help promote SGVTS as a training ground for increasingly talented Chinese Opera dancers.

You can read more about the general progress at SGVTS in the LOVEQTRA 2014 Annual Report here:LOVE REPORT 2014

Other SGVTS news: We are grateful to New Day members Dan and Jane Chavasse for organising a donation of 13 computers (donated by PWC China with help from Michael Page China) and 75kg of winter clothes and other supplies for the girls in Xining and Darlag.

2015 Grant to APLE, Cambodia

In January 2015 New Day made our third annual grant to Action Pour Les Enfants (APLE) in Cambodia to support their efforts to investigate and prosecute Child Sexual Abuse (CSA).  Our grant of US$38,000 will support their Legal Assistance Program  and ongoing operational costs.   You can read more about their planned activities in the APLE Proposal 2015.

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APLE social worker and investigator speak with a victim”s familiy.

2014 New Day Grant and Visit to Seng Girls Home and School (SGVTS)

In October, 2014 New Day was delighted make our 5th grant to SGVTS for US$26,000.

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The girls gather outside before the start of the day.

In September, New Day members Dan and Jane Chavasse traveled to Xining in Qinghai Province, China and then up to the Tibetan plateau in Darlag County to visit the girls at SGVTS and spend time with the schools’ founders Tra DockPo and Philip Poh.  You can view a slideshow of their visit here:

New Day has been funding SGVTS since 2008 and this is the first time members have been able to make the extensive trip there and experience life at the school and in the extreme conditions on the plateau. We are grateful to Dan and Jane for committing their time and personal funds to make this happen and delighted it was such a positive experience for them and that they returned so impressed with how SGVTS is transforming the girls’ lives and inspired to do more.

SGVTS now houses and schools 150 girls aged 5-18 years old.  These girls have all been rescued from a life of child labour as yak herders, abusive home situations or orphanhood.  They are cared for, housed and given an education.  With limited prospects on the plateau, SGVTS is constantly looking for ways to get the girls to bigger Chinese centers where they can continue their education and find viable job prospects.  There are around 27 SGVTS girls currently studying in international and high achieving local schools in various cities in China.  SGVTS started a Chinese Opera Troupe with their girls and they are now performing in locations around China and improving these viable vocational skills for the future.

New Day member Jane shows the girls her photos.

New Day member Jane shows the girls her photos.

In September 2014, 14 SGVTS girls were accepted into the Xining Performing Arts School (Xining is the capital of Qinghai province and a 12 hour drive away) for a 3 year program that includes dance and art vocational training along with the standard academic curriculum.  This is an invaluable opportunity for the girls to develop real like vocational skills that will ensure them secure employment when they graduate.  Dan and Jane visited these 14 girls at the school and at their new accommodation.

The 14 new students at the Performing Arts School in Xining in their new apartment.

The 14 new students at the Performing Arts School in Xining in their new apartment.

Based on our members’ feedback and discussions with the SGVTS staff New Day is now funding all school and accommodation costs for these 14 girls for the coming academic year.  We are happy to be able to give the girls a treasured education and real skills that will open up many future opportunities for them.

Our Visit to SGVTS in September 2014 – by Dan and Jane Chavasse

Ten days in Tibet

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Dan and I were looking for something to channel our commitment to help a worthwhile cause. Through our friends and the dedicated Liza and Chris we found this amazing initiative in Tibet, SGVTS. New Day were looking for someone to go and take a look at the work being done and the results of their donations to date. We were to also gain a closer appreciation of what the most pressing needs were going forward.

Sitting with a wine in my hand in the comfort of my flat it seemed a no brainer to travel to Tibet. We had the time and we thought the energy. However, after committing ourselves to the trip I will admit to a growing trepidation. I am a worrier with a finely developed ability of seeing potential disaster in the most mundane of adventures. This was not always the case but ironically this is because I am a Mum. I could imagine all sorts of ways that I was about to orphan my kids in the name of helping some other children. We had been warned of altitude sickness, earthquake potential, Monks self immolating and landslides not to mention the lack of alcohol on the plateau! However as the amazing journey unfolded all these fears (clearly unfounded) peeled away to reveal a truly great land with fascinating people.

We flew to Xian from Hong Kong one morning and then boarded a train to Xining. The journey would be twelve hours overnight. The train station was chaos and Dan and I were the only westerners. After much pointing, pigeon Mandarin and walking to the wrong counter a few times we were safely ensconced in the “ First Class Lounge” to await departure. When it was time to board several smiling but urgent staff ushered us to the train clearly concerned that the big noses would get lost! Armed with pot noodles, biscuits, fruit, coffee, cards , books, Candycrush and the crossword we were off!

The train was great, clean cabin for four people, flat beds all boding well.Yes, we thought, we can do this “roughing it thing”.

Pulling in to Xining, a “small “ provincial town of about two million people you begin to see one of the many paradoxes of this Region. Forests of high-rise apartment blocks line the railway on either side…all-empty. The pace of development here is breath taking as is the rural poverty. The Chinese have brought many good things to the Region such as telecommunication and electricity but not all of their initiatives are needed or welcome. What is clear is that everyone is trying to work with them rather than against them contrary to what may be the perception outside Tibet.

We booked into a hotel and gave ourselves a couple of days to acclimatize to the 2500m . On the morning of day three we were met by the two men behind SGVTS and Loveqtra, DockPo and Philip. DockPo presented us with the traditional Tibetan scarf, the Kata and we all introduced ourselves. The welcome was warm and relaxed and the chemistry between the two men was palpable. Both sported ponytails , one passionately Christian, one solidly Buddhist both 100% committed to helping other people and remarkably laid back. It became evident over the week that you need these qualities to make things happen here and deal with the consequences when they don’t.

They were to take us to the Performing Arts School where they had campaigned tirelessly to obtain entrance for 13…well actually 14 but more of that in a bit. They were clearly nervous and briefed us carefully on the visit as the school authorities had been initially reluctant to allow us in.

We were greated with great ceremony and introduced to the Headmaster,two Deputy Heads ,and the Party Secretary who clearly had overall responsibility. All the conversation was in Chinese and Tibetan and Philip did a gallant job at translating their comments and our questions. The school team are clearly very proud, and rightly so, of this impressive campus. We saw the dance studios with some more established students rehearsing. The dormitories were neat and bright . We also saw the Art rooms and therein lies “ number 14”. As the final admissions formalities were completed back in the Summer , Dockpo just popped a lovely little girl into the process who just happened to be deaf and mute …..into a drama school! He could see a chance for her to develop her nascent skills in painting that had began to surface the year before. No better example exists to show how optimistic, opportunistic and determined Dockpo and Philip are for their girls. She is to be taught how to paint the Buddhist Tanka which will guarantee her a living in the future as few have this skill.

We then went to meet the girls and they greeted Dockpo and Philip like long lost Uncles which is how they address them. After hugs there were questions from both of them like “ are you working hard?”, “are you ok?”, “how’s the food?” “ are you looking out for your sisters” etc and that’s when it hits you. These are children just like ours. They have the same needs, the same ambitions and the same emotions they just had a really rough start. They are not just part of a charity project and you just want, as any Mum or Dad , to do everything you can to meet those needs. It is very clear that Dockpo and Philip are in this for the long term. Even so,  they constantly plan for the independence of the girls and this school plays a very important part in empowering them to that goal.

New Day’s agreement to fund this initiative was sincerely appreciated by DockPo and Philip as they had been turned down by several other channels and had taken a chance by enrolling the girls before they had any confirmation of funding as they would have lost the places.

If this cohort works well the school will open its doors to more students from SGVTS. This has been the pattern when girls have been sent to other educational institutions outside Tibet. They work very hard as they truly appreciate the opportunity that has been afforded to them. A flat has been leased in the town in Xining for these 14 girls and others who may visit. It will be staffed with teachers on weekends. The girls will board at the Performing Arts School all week and then come to this flat and be tutored so that they can catch up on the years of academic study they have missed. In three years time they will sit the Chinese Certificate and together with hard won identity papers arranged by Dockpo and his supporters they have a future in mainstream China.

The following day Philip drove us for nearly 10 hours up to the School in Darlag, the main base where New Day’s funding has been aimed to date. He had only just arrived back from Yushu where he supports Loveqtra’s other work supporting Earthquake victims , so it was very kind to undertake another gruelling journey.

The scenery was awesome in the true sense of that word. Over 10 hours we travelled through a landscape that at once was the Grand Canyon with magenta, sheer rock faces, through scenery akin to the velvet clad Scottish highlands only to turn the corner and believe you were in the dunes of Saudi Arabia and finally the snowy peaks of Nepal. We never bored of looking out of the window. The human element was equally amazing with vehicles of all natures driving on the wrong side of the road straight at you and the occasional jam caused by Yaks being herded across the road. Then you begin to see the little girls and young women. They are the ones out on the bleak hillsides from dawn until dusk driving their animals across the pastures. They then return to the Nomad tents and collect Yak dung to make the evening fires and so on. Their habitat is extremely remote and they just live with immediate family or the family into which they have been sold. There is no education for these Nomads and no other children to play with. One of the children we met later was to tell us that the best thing about the school is that she has friends who have had a similar background and who understand her.

Philip gave us a rich background of history and cultural context as well as his own experience and motivation for the work he has dedicated himself to. He also had a wonderfully eclectic music taste ranging from Hymns to Seventies disco to Rock. All in all a very entertaining ride

After a quick bowl of noodles and a plate of Yak meat in a local restaurant we entered the school. By now it was dark and we were shown to a very comfortable guest room inside the grounds. It even had under floor heating, the only room in the school to offer such luxury. As we settled down for the night we had our first glimpse of the girls. They had moved a cassette player into the courtyard and were spontaneously dancing and singing in the cold drizzle of the evening. Others were just dashing about and there was a lot of laughter and smiling. This was not for our benefit as they did not see us peeking out of our window. For all the physical signs of their infrastructure needs this is a happy place.

We were taking altitude sickness tablets due to the rapid assent from 2500 m to 4500m. We were tired and certainly did not charge about but did not suffer the effects of the altitude too badly .I would describe it as a hangover…so lots of previous practice at handling those symptoms. We had been warned that we would have an early wake up call and so it was. At 6:30 am the girls get up and run around in formation on the basket ball court to warm up and get them selves ready for the day. Then they do some chores such as sweeping and taking out rubbish before lessons start at 8am.The older girls help the little ones get ready. We did see some teeth cleaning but personal hygiene is still a long education process here. The latrines are very basic and unclean and there is only one hose with running water for the whole school, so no hand washing is done and body washing could be monthly. There is a new shower block going in but Dockpo and Philip are keeping their fingers crossed that the water from the boiler will flow when temperatures fall to minus forty degrees over the winter. We have sent up some alcohol hand sanitizer and a simple slide on why hand washing before eating would be good. The overall health of the children is good although there is a constant sound of coughing and running noses are the norm. If one gets sick they all do.

We went to the staff room for some hot milk tea with Dockpo and some of the teachers at breakfast. They rolled barley floor dough into there tea but we stuck to good old cereal bars! We then embarked on a tour of the classrooms. The little ones have two small dark rooms in serious need of renovation and are looked after by one very overworked lady passing between the rooms. There was much giggling and fidgeting as you would expect at this age but they tried really hard to look at their books as we went in. Dockpo and Philip would like them to have more playtime but there are no toys and limited space. They know this is an issue but it is low on their priority list as long as the children are safe and well and are starting to learn.

The older children are in bright new classrooms and they hang attentively to each word the teacher says. They are all wrapped up in layers of clothes against the cold. To add to the teachers’ challenges they may have a class where the age range could be from 12-18 but they sort by ability. Attracting and retaining teachers is by far and away the schools major issue. The remote location, relatively low wages and private status of the school all play a part. Dockpo and Philip work very hard on creating the best environment they can for teachers and have just hired a retired Head Master to raise standards and help coordinate efforts to improve teaching levels in the medium term. We met this wonderfully enthusiastic man who is putting in discipline around standards and this will yield powerful results if they can get the staff.

Dockpo an Philip are totally focused on providing the girls with what they refer to as “ a last chance”. This is ensuring that some of the older children are either given access to secondary education off the plateau to help them integrate and progress in mainstream China where employment opportunities are greater .Others will be equipped with an employable skill. They have a computer room and aim to give the girls basic skills in this field. The school is approved by the local legislature and is providing a level of primary education equal to the state but has the freedom to add to the curriculum, hence English. Later this year they will convert two of there rooms to a sewing room and cookery class . They had a teahouse to train in aspects of basic hospitality but that is temporarily closed due to a government scheme to widen the road which has lead to the shops in this area being shut down for an indefinite period. The Government are also building a six storey Museum to King Gehser right in the middle of the school. Dockpo can’t challenge this. He has, however been promised that the girls can run it when it is finished. That could be another year away. Meanwhile the girls have to tolerate living in a building site. It is these situations that are beyond their control that the two men show such fortitude over.

At 10am the school gathers outside for exercise (prescribed by state) and an assembly where announcements are made.it was our chance to see them all together and appreciate the responsibility the school has taken on. There was much organizing of the little ones into uniform lines by the older girls then they were off into a well rehearsed routine that went like clockwork, quite amazing to watch.

Another highlight of that day was the chance to “ interview “ two of the senior girls. One was their first Graduate who had just returned from a placement in Beijing at a secondary level. She was waiting to go back to another placement and had ambitions of completeing a degree and returning here to teach. The other girl had been in Guanzhou and her English was very good. She was waiting to see if an English focused College could be found for her. Dockpo and Philip had concerns that her work ethic was slipping amidst her teenage development so they had brought her back to make sure she appreciated the advantage being offered to her. Again an example of how these men look carefully at each individual as parents and ensure they are on track.

The chat with these two girls was great. They talked about the warmth and security of the community. They had chosen English names…somewhat of a relief to us as we could not pronounce the Tibetan ones. One was Linda and one Paris! It was Paris who referred to the relief of coming to a place where her orphan status and lack of education when she arrived was nothing unusual in this special sorority. Nomads and Ethnic minorities face significant discrimination. They clearly felt this was home with all that that word represents.

Dockpo and Philip admit that they can’t help everyone brought to them as some just don’t want to work to change their lives. Their pride in the girls that strive to improve themselves and those around them is very obvious. As testament to their success the waiting list for the school stands at 170 girls .You can see that they would like to take in all the girls they can but they know that to maintain the standard of what they offer and by default the value they can only help those they can fit into their facility.

We stayed at the school for three nights. We watched the girls doing their laundry by the hose,then watched the same laundry attempt to dry out on lines strewn over the campus…in the rain. It did dry eventually. We watched them line up patiently for three hotmeals a day. Finally we watched them at play and had fun videoing them and playing the tapes back to them.We sincerely wished we could have spoken their language but we were made very welcome.

Finally Dockpo treated us to an unparalleled tour of the local area gaining access for us to the innermost sanctuaries of the Monasteries. We had tea with the Monks, saw their Sky burial sites and were given a deep insight into the cultural complexities and paradoxes of this Region. Gold plated Temple roofs juxtaposed with tented encampments housing subsistence farmers who may nevertheless drive an SUV ! Little novice Monks playing football with the local Nomadic kids, both groups with very different prospects ahead of them.

Dockpo drove us back to Xining at the end of our tour and the trip was no less exciting than the journey up as the landscape transformed under the different light. We stopped off at the Provincial Capital so that Dockpo could check on the status of his applications for the girls’ ID papers. We met up with Philip back in Xining to have a debrief and left them with the sure knowledge that we will stay in touch with these very special people.

The whole visit was a sensory overload. You look at one level and see insurmountable barriers to providing these children with the warm, clean and safe haven they deserve. You can think of so many things that would transform this environment…running water, better latrines, new dorms, a drying room, a playroom etc. However, it is very clear that there are few quick fixes here and mobilising supplies and services in Tibet is no easy task.  So you see the pragmatic approach taken by the founders who don’t look at the issues through a Westeners eyes. Therefore they look at what is critical to keep the girls going through to independence. They know how far they have come from when Dockpo initially gave up his home to provide a shelter for 30 girls. Both he and Philip have made significant personal sacrifice to realise their ambitions for this vulnerable group. New Day’s support has gone a long way to helping in this and they feel a close connection to the Charity and it’s personal approach driven by Liza and Chris.So in addition to the large scale donations New Day make to specific projects at the school they will always want warm clothes, educational toys , sunscreen, sanitizer , stationary etc and all members can get involved with gathering and sending these materials. We have a postal address so we can send English letters to the Senior girls to give them a connection and some practice. Packages are more tricky and really need to go from Shenzhen but where there’s a will…

We would encourage anyone with the time to make the trip to this amazing place. It requires a bit of stamina, cereal bars, wet wipes and Tupperware (detail on request ) but what a privilege.

Dan and Jane Chavasse.

 

 

 

 

Site Visit to APLE – June 19 and 20, 2014

Community Awareness training session with APLE trainers.

Community Awareness training session with APLE trainers.

On June 19 and 20, New Day members Liza Green and Shannon Rogers spent 2 days with the APLE team in Phnom Penh. It was a great visit and we were impressed, as always, with their commitment and professionalism as well as their resilience in the face of such difficult work.  Below is a bullet point update of recent developments:

– APLE continues continues to have a solid team of committed and long term employees.  They have just received funding to build their organisational capacity and start a care program for their staff.  This is essential to relieve the stress of their challenging work.

– Opened a Battambang office to house investigators. They are finding many pedophiles, especially the ones who groom children and families, are moving to more remote locations. Perpetrators are realizing they need to be more discreet – awareness in Cambodia has greatly improved.

– APLE is in the process of creating an online reporting tool to address online pornography originating in Cambodia. Currently evaluating how to best tackle the legal and investigative issues.  They are collaborating with domestic and international partner organisations to achieve this.

Court officials attitudes towards victims have improved. Even the judges are asking questions in a more child friendly manner. The creation of juvenile procedures and a juvenile court is in draft law now. APLE is very happy with the draft.

 

 

New Day funds Matara Buddhist Girls Home – Sri Lanka

 

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New Day is pleased to be renewing our partnership with the Matara Buddhist Girls’ Home. Established in 1963, the Home aims to provide a safe, comfortable and nurturing environment for girls from the district of Matara, Sri Lanka.  It is a small charity run by the local community with no website or significant access to external donors.  Matara was introduced to New Day by friends from the Hong Kong professional community. The Matara residents are guided to develop self-confidence and resilience, and where possible, employable skills to allow them to be independent and lead fulfilling lives, once they leave. The Home caters for 30-40 girls and currently has 29 residents between the ages of 5 and 18 years old.  The Home is open to girls from all religious backgrounds and also provides shelter for girls who are victims of domestic situations, and undergoing court cases. They are temporarily housed in the orphanage so that they have a secure and safe home until the court reaches a final decision.

The children attend a local neighborhood school and are expected to leave once they reach the age of 18. Three matrons and a committee run the Home. The Home not only provides shelter, food, clothing and loving care to the children but would also like to provide vocational skills and extra educational support to the children to allow them to easily secure jobs once they have to leave the Home.

New Day has approved a grant of US$20,000 for the period June 2014 to June 2015.  The grant will be disbursed in two bi-annual installments and spent according to ongoing consultation and agreements between the Matara committee and New Day.  The funds will primarily be used for tutoring and extra vocational classes, the salaries of all staff at the home (matrons, admin officer and tutors) as well as a newly appointed counselor and accountant.  remaining grant money will cover operational expenses including building maintenance.

New Day is delighted to support Matara once again.  We look forward to visiting the home and encourage our members to plan a visit with their families and learn more about additional ways they can help.

Please see below for details of the funding request from the Matara committee:

Tutoring and extra classes: In order to improve the girls’ wellbeing and future employment prospects, the committee would like to train the girls in English language skills, computing, cookery, sewing and embroidery. Painting, music and drama classes help to lift the spirits of the children. Generous donors provided these extra classes but these donations have now dried up. Currently there is a teacher who provides all the children extra coaching for schoolwork. The committee would like to request for funding to engage a dedicated teacher for the children who will be sitting for their O’Level examinations this year and another teacher for the rest of the children.

Counseling: As many of the children come from extremely disturbed backgrounds we need to provide timely and ongoing counseling support to help them overcome significant trauma that they have experienced, so that they can develop hope and a positive attitude to their future. Currently, the staff provide whatever support they can while managing their day to day duties, but they do not have the time or training to give one-on-one counseling support to the girls who need this.

Accountant: To ensure that our accounting and governance practices are in good order, we would like to have a staff position responsible for this function. Currently we are relying on Committee members who are busy with their own personal responsibilities and therefore can only devote time to this function when their busy schedules allow. A designated position will help with the drafting of the budget and estimating the financial needs of the Home, the timely recording of all expenditure and receipts and will support the financial management of the orphanage.

Update on Cambodian Acid Survivors’ Charity (CASC) – April 2014

Cambodia Acid Survivors Charity (CASC) – Phnom Penh
We were happy to welcome Dan Tagliere, the President of the board of CSC, to our members meeting to provide us with an update on the CASC program that New Day funded in 2009 and 2012. The CASC program was established in 2006 as a response to the lack of services and limited medical options for acid burn survivors. CASC tackled the issues involved, with the help of charity partners, in 4 main ways:
1)Surgical, Medical, and Psychological Treatment
2)Vocational Training & Social Reintegration
3)Legal Assistance and Advocacy
4)Awareness raising, research, education, and advocacy to diminish acid violence.
Their efforts have paid off! With the enactment of the Acid Law and Sub Decree in Cambodia in January of 2012, there has been an 83% decrease in acid attacks since 2010. There were 3 attacks in all of Cambodia in 2013. The survivors still need ongoing support but the prevention and advocacy work has minimized the number of future survivors.
To learn more about this successful program, you can see Dan’s presentation here: CASC Presentation Jan2014

Please also find a link to a Cambodia Daily feature on the changes at CASC, accomplishments, and a profile on Bunnarith one of their staff member (and an acid survivor) that ran recently in the paper:

http://www.cambodiadaily.com/features/acid-attack-survivor-once-again-seeking-fresh-start-55825/

 

New Day Meeting – March 18, 2014

On March 18, 2014 New Day held a member’s meeting at the Linklaters office in Hong Kong.  Thank you, Linklaters, for your ongoing support of New Day. It was good to see many new faces attending the meeting and we have had a number of new members joining since then.  Chris and Liza Green gave an overview of New Day and what we have achieved as a group over the past 7 years – including sharing the encouraging statistic that we have donated over US$450,000 since our founding to over 14 projects in China, Hong Kong, Laos, Vietnam, India, Sri Lanka, Cambodia and Nepal.

We were also fortunate to welcome Dan Tagliere from the Children’s Surgical Center (CSC) in Phnom Penh to our meeting.  Dan gave a presentation on the recent successes of CSC’s Cambodian Acid Survivor’s Charity (CASC) that New Day funded in 2009 and 2012.

You can view the evening’s presentation here: New Day Meet March 2014

Final report from Daughters of Cambodia – March 2014

New Day has received the final report for the 2012/2013 grant given to Daughters for the October 2012 to October 2013 operations.  This grant funded a Production Manager and Assistant, Rent, and the purchase of a generator.
Daughters has et their goals to improve productivity and efficiency through the implementation of an inventory and pricing system.
They currently employ 145 clients in their 5 businesses.  They have a 98% success rate of clients staying out of the sex trade for women who stay beyond 6 months.  In addition to providing employment Daughters has extensive programs that provide counselling, healthcare, creche facilities and life skills training to their clients.  You can read the narrative report here: New Day_2012-13_Final Narrative Report

LOVEQTRA update 2013/2014

Girls from the LOVEQTRA SGVTS school at a fundraiser in Shenzhen, October 2013.

The SGVTS school and home on the Tibetan plateau now houses and educates more than 140 girls, up from the 30 girls they first cared for when New Day began funding them in 2009.  25 girls have been sent to study outside of Golog in various cities and in 2013, 2 girls were accepted into an International School in Guangdong. Chris and Liza Green traveled to meet these two girls along with another of their classmates in October 2013.  We also had the opportunity to meet with another major funder of LOVEQTRA, Captivating International.

Meeting Justine, Alice and Stella from SGVTS in Shenzhen, October 2014.

In order to become more self-sustaining SGVTS opened a tea house and small guesthouse in 2013.  Both enterprises are growing nicely.  You can read more about all the encouraging developments at SGVTS in the 2013 LOVE report (full of beautiful photos of the girls and their various achievement): LOVE Report 2013

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

New Day Grant to APLE – January, 2014

Community Awareness training session with APLE trainers.

In January 2014, New Day made a US$28,731 grant to APLE.  This grant will fund ongoing personnel and program expenses at their Phnom Penh office.  You can read the full funding proposal here:  NDA_FY14 Project Proposal-revised 16Dec13

APLE continues to do essential work in the prosecution of sex crimes against children in Cambodia and we are pleased to continue our partnership with them.

New Day Member Meeting – October 8, 2013

On October 8 New Day held a Members’ Meeting at Grappas in Hong Kong.  Liza Green gave an update on New Day finances and projects and member Catherine Copping spoke about her experiences on the March 2013 New Day trip to visit New Day partner Sharana in Pondicherry, India.

We were also delighted to be joined by Kylie Uebergang and Melanie Alexander from our new Hong Kong partner Pathfinders.  Kylie gave an overview of Pathfinders and explained the work they are doing to help pregnant migrant women in the city find a way out of difficult and at times critical situations.

You can read the evening’s presentation here: New Day Oct 2013 Meeting Presentation (website)

New Day Grant to LOVEQTRA – June 2013

New desks and chairs for all the students.

In June 2013, New Day made a 4th grant to LOVEQTRA for their Seng Girls Home and School in Qinghai province.  A total grant of HK$ 225,500 was given for the purchase of a multi-use truck and new furniture for the school classrooms.

Girls unloading supplies from the truck.

The truck is big enough to transport the girls and haul supplies.

LOVEQTRA founder and school head TraDockPo motivated the need for the truck as follows: “This is absolutely essential to be able to bring very sick girls, who can not really sit up for 10 hours drive in a local bus, efficiently and quickly to Xining. We need to drive to Xining at least twice to 4 times a month to do basic shopping of fresh vegetables and other essential foods. They cost less than ½ here and in the winter times we save even more as prices shoot up in Golog due to roads being almost often blocked. We have been wasting far too much time and money trying to use taxis and hiring trucks to transport things over here. Having a good 4 wheel Pick up truck with snow chains would increase the chance to have more wholesome healthy food and yet save much money if we buy it in the City. Even while being in the city much time and money is wasted by taking taxis to different shops, there is no way to lug all the shopping in local buses.”

We are pleased that this donation has made such a difference to operations at the school. In September we received a wonderful update on life and developments at the Seng Home, written by some of the girls.  You can read it here: SGH Sept 13 update

 

New Day grant to Pathfinders – September 2013

At the beginning of September, New Day made its first grant to Pathfinders, an NGO based here in Hong Kong.  Pathfinders mission is to ensure that every migrant child born in Hong Kong has a fair start in life by empowering and assisting the mothers to make informed life decisions and find a dignified path towards a safe and legal future.  The mothers are foreign domestic workers from Indonesia and the Philippines that have lost their jobs, often illegally, due to their pregnancy.  These women find themselves in a seemingly hopeless situation that often results in homelessness and poverty.  They are facing emotional, legal, and financial challenges – all of which Pathfinders works to help them address through their various programs.  New Day has granted Pathfinders HK$156,000 to fund their Mother’s Empowerment Program, a case management type program that addresses the most critical needs of the mother and child.  The program encompasses:

1) Crisis Management:  Removing them from danger such as a domestic violence situation or homelessness.
2) Documentation: resolving immigration and legal issues.
3) Needs assessment and follow through:  assisting with medical support, shelter, food and clothing, emotional support, etc.
4) Long Term Planning: develop and build capacity to move towards a safe, legal and sustainable future.

We are excited by this new partnership and look forward to welcoming Pathfinders at our upcoming Members Meeting!!

An overview of Pathfinders programs and beneficiaries can be found at www.pathfinders.org.hk.

You can download the presentation Pathfinders prepared for New Day here: New Day Presentation Sept 2013

Visit to APLE – June 2013

APLE staff putting up an awareness raising poster in Phnom Penh

On June 14, 2013 New Day members Shannon Rogers, Liza Green and Chris Green spent the day with the team at Action Pour Les Enfants (APLE) at their office in central Phnom Penh.  Over the course of the day we were given an in-depth explanation of all the work that APLE undertakes across the country in their efforts to investigate, prosecute and bring to justice those who commit crimes of sexual exploitation against children.  We met with Country Director, Seila Samleang, and his staff of investigators, lawyers, accountants, criminology specialists and international volunteers.  We were also grateful for the opportunity to meet and talk with Mr Jojo from World Vision Cambodia, one of APLE’s many NGO partners.

APLE staff work with a number of NGOs on the ground in Phnom Penh, Sihanoukville and Siem Riep to identify perpetrators of crimes against children and also to provide counselling and support for the children and their families as they go through the traumatic process of bringing their abusers to court.  Their work is painstaking (we were amazed at the level of detail they gather on each individual case) and they can spend upwards of two years on a cue before they have gathered enough evidence to alert the police for an arrest.  They are threatened and operate under a great deal of stress but everyone we spoke to talked about their passion for helping child victims and their belief in justice.

Since 2003 APLE has brought 248 perpetrators to justice and they are determined to move forward and create an environment in Cambodia that is unwelcoming and eventually closed off to pedophiles and exploiters of children.  We are pleased to be able to continue our support for them.