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1.25 acres, a 15 year lease and lots and lots of potential Aug-Sept 07

A mystery outing

to a land not far away

we gathered to hear the big news

GREEN GECKO HAS A BRAND NEW HOME!

Yes, it's true! Months in the making, Green Gecko has finally secured a 15 year lease on a place of its very own. 1.25 acres of former rice paddy, just 3 rice paddies and a comfortable stroll from the last Gecko House. We didn't expect to move so quickly but for the sake of the kid's safety and stability, we wanted a place big enough to have the night shelter and centre at the same location.

There is nothing on the land except a crocodile pit (with 4 live crocs), lots of mud and water and one traditional house (4 times smaller than our last place) however in true Khmer style we successfully manage to squish in a store room, staff area, computer room, a library, first aid room, kitchen, toilet (1 squat for 70 people), sleeping space for 16 boys, a meeting room and 2 classrooms!
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soccer field in the dry season, mud bath in the wet

future playground

future wash area, laundry, shower and toilet block

The land is low and empty but we have some big dreams and loads of plans to make the most of it. We already have a pledge and drawings underway to build 2 classroom bungalows and an undercover multi-purpose hut which will definitely help move the kids out from under our feet when it rains (most of the time these days). High on the priority wish list (i.e: desired but as yet, unfunded J) are 6 small sleeping bungalows, a toilet/wash/laundry block and kitchen and playground as well as less exciting but equally important projects like landfill (so we are not wading), parking area (so we are not getting bogged), fencing and a gate (to keep the kids in and the baddies out), hut for the security guard (so he can open and shut the gate) and a power generator/solar power (so we can have fans and lights on at the same time!).
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The first load of earth to raise the land from swamp level

Green gecko earth movers

Truck dumped its load a little close to our only source of water

The collective attitude has been overwhelming. The kids are busting to chip in (without coercion) and help wherever they can; moving soil, moving rocks, unpacking its been an eye opener for all the volunteers to see children so eager to pitch in. They really feel as it is their place and have a much a stronger sense of security than ever before. The day we moved in, one of the older boys said to Rem Pomera (Rem) now we know REALLY that you and Tania love us so much why now? Because now we know you stay 15 year. Oh my Buddha, not sure where they thought we were going, but I guess with the transient life they've known, stability has never been a luxury they had. Perhaps they thought we also would move on some day. Having this lease was - for them - a tangible sign of our commitment.
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blossom picking

Room to run

Relaxing after a hard days play

In saying that, we did give them plenty of notice that by the time our lease is up? I will be 56 years old, they will range from 33 to 17 years old and they had better be running the place by then or else!... because you see, we have plans! I want to cruise my way into the cold of Antarctica (if it is still there by then) and Rem wants to lay back in his old tuk tuk and RELAX!

In the meantime, we all agree that it is important that the culture of Green Gecko stays as traditionally Khmer. We have witnessed that it is all too easy to unintentionally instil unnecessary western culture into Cambodian life when we Berangs (Khmer word for westerners) get involved. Having Rem and his very Cambodian values on hand, help bring us back to reality in an instant. When I suggest we buy something like a washing machine to make things faster, easier? he replies ?Berang Style Not Khmer? if you take away the children's jobs, they will not feel important, you teach them to be lazy and not thankful for their live's. Hmm, absolutely right, here in Cambodia chores are not burdens, they are a way of being and belonging and for this reason all the kids at Gecko have chores just as they would in any traditional Cambodian family. They hand wash their own clothes (even the 3 years olds), they help prepare lunch, clean the playground, pump and carry the water to the toilet, wash their dishes and pots and help take care of the toddlers. It constantly astounds our volunteers when we announce at assembly... ?Mighty Monkeys (one of the 6 house groups) your job for this week is scrubbing the pot's because they reply with applause!?
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Pump the water

Wash the clothes

Hang them out to dry

Filling the pot holes on the road to the gecko? so we can get in and out!

Workmen cleaning their tools

Never too young to help out

There has been a lot of progress in the last few weeks and we look forward to sending you some before and after shots. All of us are very proud of our new place and grateful for the people that have helped make it happen. You all know who you are and how much your support whether financial, physical, or moral is appreciated? always.?
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Lunch in the shade

Just hanging out

Little ones taking turns swinging in the hammock

If any of you fancy putting your hand to little fundraising - whether it be as simple as a raffle, elaborate as a gala or anything in between - we promise to have plenty of projects (big and small) to inspire you.

Until next update,

love and gratitude

from Tania, Rem and all the gecko crew and kids
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