Author: Shi Xian
THE SCHOOL OF HAPPINESS
Children of the Mekong wanted to adopt a Charter to synthesise our vision and values. Yves Meaudre, the Chief Executive of Children of the Mekong between 1986 and 2016, reminds us that those whose childhood is rich of family love, have in their hands the keys to their happiness and to that of their children. “Happiness cannot nourish itself through the studying required for intelligence, or from the rice necessary for the body, but from the appreciation of the soul and the responses given to the mind. It was to convey this richness that the Children of the Mekong was founded, and it remains loyal today to the ideas of Mr Péchard. And even further than that, it reaffirms that the Children of the Mekong has a true vocation, it has the ambition of educating the body, the soul and the mind, respecting in this way the unity of man.”
SOME OF OUR PEDAGOGICAL PARTNERS
Our educational project is founded not only on academic and professional knowledge but also on the ethos of full personal development (to develop oneself as a person, to open oneself up to the world, to engage oneself in society). To enable us to achieve this educational project, Children of the Mekong has surrounded itself with numerous pedagogical partners. You can learn more about some of them hereafter.
Writing Through (WT) is a registered charity in the United States founded by an author, Sue Guiney in 2010. Together, Children of the Mekong and Writing Through believe that today’s world demands more from its citizens than an ability to parrot information. Engaged and contributing citizens of the world need to be able to think conceptually and critically, to know what they believe and have the confidence and poise to be able to stand up and say it in their own voices.
Through helping children craft their own poems and stories, Writing Through enables them to gradually increase their fluency in English, develop abstract concepts that remain difficult to articulate through everyday language alone, and improve their self-confidence by discovering that all thoughts and feelings have value.
During the six-day writing module, young people learn to trust in their inspiration, their talent, and their ability to express themselves in a foreign language. Above all, they learn to respect each other’s ideas, values, dreams and hopes for the future. At the end of the module, a magazine of the children’s work is published. Their very own magazine, a source of great joy and pride for the children… and us too. There can be no better way to help these children break out of poverty than by helping them find their voice.
A + B = 3 is a social enterprise which educates young people in financial management ‘Because money is more important than adding up figures’.
Their objective is therefore twofold:, to teach the young people to manage their funding and to help their parents to stick to their own budget. This financial education first starts both for the young and the older, by the study of time management. This question is essential if one wants to be able to tackle the verbs ‘anticipate’ and ‘forecast’, intimately linked to the planning of a budget and to making savings. However, in a Buddhist country where the present time takes precedence over that of tomorrow, which seems sometimes so distant, the challenge is enormous. The studies cover equally the ethical questions linked to money, delicate but unavoidable for these young people who have all come from severe poverty. Finally, the lessons support the young people in the different decisions which they will have to take and which will transform into projects for a future more or less distant, such as the return to their home for the holidays, the purchase of a computer or the budget for their wedding.
Green Shoots Foundation is a UK registered charity with a mission to foster Sustainable Development by promoting holistic programmes that combine Economic Development with Food & Agriculture, Education or Medical Aid. They have been working with Children of the Mekong and Enfants du Mekong in Samrong, Oddar Meanchey Province since 2012. First through the set-up of vegetable gardens and a corresponding educational curriculum. Both organisations are committed to the upskilling of youth in Cambodia and providing them with options for the future. Children from rural households that live off the land can add value to the family farm by learning more about sustainable agriculture, climate change and their role in this. Since 2012 Green Shoots has also helped Children of the Mekong manage a 5 Ha rice paddy in Samrong Cambodia that has the capacity to grow enough rice to ensure food security for the Samrong Educational Centre for three months.
In 2018 Green Shoots Foundation set up its own Agriculture Training Centre in Samrong and regularly invites students from Children of the Mekong to participate in sustainable farming courses, ethnobotany- which includes topics related to how people relate to wild plants and flora around them.
Karol & Setha is a Cambodian NGO which Children of the Mekong has supported for nearly 10 years. The teachers, all Cambodian, offer very high quality support on the questions of emotional and sexual relationships. Often a taboo subject in families, these relationships are still an integral part in the development of our young people. Karol & Setha listen and support the young people in their understanding of themselves, in this way opening them up to form connections with others, which is always the second stage. Thanks to these modules being on the long term, as each one of the modules requires five whole days to instil a climate conducive to the sharing of confidences, the young people are able to reflect on their feelings and their needs in relationships, with the goal of being able to better understand them, and therefore to become responsible for them. This programme links therefore the critical mind with a clear understanding of the nature of sexuality in the context of emotional relationships. Their acronym speaks for itself ‘Knowledge And Reflection On Life And SExuality Through a Holistic Approach’.
The “Institut de Philosophie Comparé” (Institute of Comparative Philosophy, or IPC) in Paris is one of our largest partners in the creation of the personal development course. The language barrier presents a real challenge in the sphere of philosophy, but after 8 years of work, our pathway of philosophical reflection is wholly taught and received in Khmer in Cambodia and in English in the Philippines. This long process of adaptation was at the heart of the concerns of the Children of the Mekong centres – firstly in Phnom Penh in Cambodia and afterwards in Cebu in the Philippines, which both place philosophy at the heart of personal development. Whilst it has been complicated to put this in place, philosophy is, today, spearheading our personal development course, from which the results are visible and numerous. Many of the students are following this course, which gives them the keys to grow towards happiness.
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