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Giant geckos, puppet parades, balls, bicycles and seminars

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What would have to be the highlight of the little gecko' year (if not life) ... was the making and ultimate parading of a giant Green Gecko puppet... through the streets of Siem Reap. Thanks to the brainchild of Stu (one of our very own volunteers), the expertise of Mr Jig (giant puppet maker extraordinaire) and his many talented puppeteer fairies and elves (Trixie, Sasha, Zoe and friends) who collaborated with over 300 local kids (from orphanages, schools and centres) to present the noisiest, most colourful street show ever seen in Siem Reap. The endangered tiger and crane, the Khmer Naga and Apsara, dental hygiene guy, road safety kid and many enchanted forest creatures were amongst other larger than life illuminated effigies paraded by their junior creators. It was a fabulous experience from beginning to end; watching their masterpieces evolve from their handy work to the pride and joy beaming from their faces as they chanted 'Green Gec-ko, Green Gec-ko', shaking their shakers and holding up their gigantic achievement to hoards of bemused yet delighted onlookers curb side.

Green Gecko Green Gecko
6 metres long and a movable tongue!
Getting prepped for the big parade
Somnang
Somnang adding the final touches
Shaking those shakers
Practice Run
Practice run ''green gec-ko, green gec-ko''
The real thing ''green gec-ko, green gec-ko''
Exhausting, yet one huge event followed another, this time it was a 3 day sports workshop put on by Adidas and the Angkor Photo Festival. Adidas delegates from around the world came to teach our kids some much needed ball skills - volley ball, soccer and basketball were amongst their favourites. The kids had a fabulous time and I think it even wore them out! They love their soccer shirts, caps, water bottles and balls to keep them practising! Not only did Adidas donate their time and all of the above they also donated the funds to construct a multi-purpose ball court, toilets and wash sheds for the kids to continue their new found love of sports. Gratitude to all involved.
Getting the drill
The winners
The losers
More thanks goes out to two special gecko couples, firstly to Chris and Jenny from the UK for donating a whole truck of rice (on the very day we ran out) and to Juanita and Patrick (and friends) for sponsoring 50 children's bicycles! If Cambodia celebrated Christmas, it would have been on this day for sure. Fitted with their own individual name plates the kids are feeling pretty chuffed, the only problem now it to get them off the bikes and into the class room!
Check them out!
Better than Christmas
Cant ride bikes if there's no rice
Rem, Kim San and I did a little classroom work ourselves earlier this year. We were fortunate enough to be invited by the UK Embassy to attend a week long Seminar on Child Abuse and Protection. It was attended by other child related NGO's, Child Protection Police and Lawyers and conducted by International Experts in the field. It was a very professional, incredibly insightful and desperately needed programme which raised awareness, imparted skills and encouraged a working relationship between the different sectors, previously not so prevalent. Thank you to the UK Embassy, Sian for her impeccable facilitation, and speakers Maggie, Tim and Kate for your invaluable insight and experience. We have a lot to learn.
Rem, lawyers and police working in groups
Rem receiving his certificated from Kate
Kim San and Tim
More news is that the night shelter is going better than expectedand numbers are increasing which of course... was expected. The kids absolutely love their house parents Ram and Kem (Pa and Ma) which is fabulous. Some nights we top 20 kids, lucky they are small and don't mind snuggling. Our main focus are the teenage girls, there has been some serious abuse of late involving friends of our girls and some paedophilia convictions as a consequence. We honestly belief having the shelter has saved some of our girls from the same fate. Thank you to our Swedish connections for your ongoing support.

On a personal note, I had an awful shake up health wise recently. In brief, a persistent eye pain led to a temporary loss of vision in my right eye, I received treatment but still wasn't 100%. Conveniently, I was due for a work trip back to Australia anyway, which offered the perfect opportunity to seek specialist advice. Their initial prognosis was dreadful, a suspected brain tumour, full on. They sent me for scans. It was a long bleak 2 week wait but the results were as positive as we could have wished for - no growth and no cancer. They found pressure in my skull and eyes (cause unknown) which needs monitoring but isn't life threatening. Advice is that I need to medicate, meditate and delegate! The wishes, love and support was much appreciated... it was a scary time for all and a real wake up call.

Talking of delegation, love and support we are over the moon to have Claire Coxon from Melbourne with us at Green gecko for the remainder of this year. Claire used to work at STA Travel for many years and was a successful applicant in receiving the STA Travel Trust Grant (an initiative to fund volunteer work overseas) to develop and monitor micro businesses for the Green Gecko families. In addition to this, Claire is a wonderful moral support for me and Rem and has taken over the volunteer coordination which is a mammoth job in itself. We welcome Claire with open arms and feel blessed by her presence and help.
Kids call Claire 'Klarr' (tiger in Khmer)
Cooling off with an excursion to the pool
Carrying Somnang at the puppet parade
That's all the news we have for now. Here are a few fun pics to leave you with.
As always, Love and gratitude
From all the geckos


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