Volume XII, Issue 35: April 19, 2013

Last Friday, our Rotary Exchange Student, Fa Sillapajarn, said that she had recently attended a birthday party for a fellow Exchanger. I didn’t catch the name, but he broke his arm skiing, and he’s funny. That should narrow it down for you, if not for me.

Fa said that she met Molly at the party. Molly will be heading for Thailand as an Exchange Student in the fall. She had gathered some information on the country from online sources, but Fa was able to give her some additional insights.

Fa helped her Host Family put on a big party of about 30 people. Fa said that it was fun, and that there was a lot of good food. The party had a luau theme.

Barbara Browning and Ron Sharp will host May’s Fifth Fellowship “Friday” at their home in Blue Lake. It will be a meet-and-greet event that will focus on our friends at Mexico’s Project Amigo. Details will follow.


Past President Scott Heller with Ian, Praj, and the Kahuna

Last week, we welcomed our newest Sunriser – Praj White. Praj is a Regional Manager with Manhard Consulting of Eureka. He and his wife Alisa have two children, 14-year-old Isabella, and Logan, who is 17 (and who will be our Outbound Exchange Student next year).

Ian Schatz sponsored Praj, whose classification is Civil Engineering. He enjoys fishing and treasure hunting. Welcome to the Club, Praj!

Cam and Lisa Appleton celebrated their 32nd anniversary with a trip to Oregon. On their way back down the coast, they were able to see some whales!

Ceva Courtemanche made it to last week’s meeting, but she did not have little Hayes with her. Maybe next time …

Friday’s guest speaker was Hans Eide. While with the Rotary Club of Foster City, Hans founded the Cambodia Academy at Mongkol Borei. On a visit to Cambodia several years ago, he was concerned that many young people there were too poor to receive the most basic education. Schools in the area near Siem Riep (which is in turn near Angkor Wat, with its famed temples).

Rotarian Hans Eide

Hans discussed the situation with administrators of the local school, who were willing to accept additional students whose tuitions would be paid by Foster City Rotarians (and others). The first year, the program funded 50 first graders. The only criterion was that the parents had to be too poor to send their children to school. 

The school was progressing well for quite a while – participation was increasing at a steady pace – but the increasing Rotary involvement led to the school founder’s belief that the organization was “taking over” his school. With that, Hans and other supporters began looking the process of building a new school.  

In 2008, they found a suitable location, but the lack of infrastructure and support for construction projects in Cambodia proved difficult. Even the fact that the country has relatively few attorneys (which some might view with envy) complicated the situation. Despite the difficulties, construction began in January 2010, and the new school held its grand opening that October, and a second building was completed before the beginning of the 2012 school year.

The Academy currently has 325 students, all of whom live within a 3-mile radius of the campus. Lunches have long been provided, but when it was learned that over half of the students were arriving at the school hungry, breakfast was added. 

Hans said that he finds it gratifying “knowing that these students are in school because of what we do.” You can help by donating to the Academy. The school is operated by a nonprofit group that has 501(c)(3) status, which means that donations are tax-exempt. As an added bonus, if you are a Rotarian, your contribution earns credit toward your Paul Harris Sustaining Fellowship. To make a donation, please visit the Academy’s website – CLICK HERE. Hans said that every dollar given goes to help the children; there is no overhead.