ABCs and Rice

Empowering the poor, through education and community support,
to break the cycle of poverty.


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Early 2010, ABCs School is Born

Posted by Tammy D on May 21, 2010 at 7:22 AM Comments comments (0)

Catching Up

Posted by Tammy Durand on Saturday, February 6, 2010

Well, it sure has been a while; and I apologize for that. The last month or so has been full of bad news from Canada, and it was quite difficult for me to write to all of you about the fabulous things that are happening here in the slums of Siem Reap.

Pair that up with the fact that I have been working round the clock on various ABC’s and Rice projects, and you’ll understand why it is often difficult to pedal my way in to town for internet usage.

So, you miss a little, you miss a lot! Since my last update, I’ve paired up with some equally enthusiastic people and the steps ABC’s has made with their support have been ASTOUNDING! (Thanks MATT!!!)

We are in the process of registering ABC’s and Rice as an indigenous NGO here in Cambodia. We have opened a brand new school, and I am now running a volunteer guest house to help support this project. Our new well will be completed today and the water filter should be installed early next week. I believe my statement to you all before I left in December was “I now have 168 children to care for; I’ll see you in March.” Happily, that is no longer the case….I have over 300 children now; all of which will be drinking clean water by Wednesday at the latest, and I am not sure when I’ll return.

I miss my friends and family a great deal but the work being done here is too important and still too fragile to leave behind.

I have accepted a part time paid position in the city teaching English to Kindergarten and Grade 1 children. The pay is lousy but it will support me, and pay for the land I’ve leased at the new school.

I celebrated my birthday here yesterday. It was AWESOME!!!! At 7:30 in the morning I had about 60 smiling faces singing “Happy Birthday Teacha Tammy”, got a ton of beautiful hand-made cards, and more hugs and kisses than most people receive in a life time. After school I headed off to the airport to pick up my newest volunteer, an English University teacher from Korea. He must be an angel, because he showed up with a donation substantial enough to cover the well, and some much needed school suppliesJ.

…..not a surprise to most but, I bawled like a baby, then proceeded to dance barefoot in the streets when my mom called and I got to tell her the news.


We are still very much in the Grass Root stages but with support, sponsors, and volunteers contacting me from all over the world….We will sustain this project and continue to grow. The changes being made in this developing world are far greater than I could have ever thought possible and I am so blessed to be a part of them.

Please, come see for yourself! I promise any future visitors the experience of a life time.



The New School

Posted by Tammy Durand on Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Hey Everybody,

Sorry that it’s been such a long time since we’ve posted an update. You can imagine that it’s been pretty busy here in Siem Reap. Where to start?

The end of January saw the initial building and swings go up at ABC’s and Rice school. The biggest thing was opening it to a small group of local kids 28/01/10. February brought on the completion of 3 more classrooms, the hiring of our amazing Khmer teachers, Suni, Phea Rin, Hunly and Suki, and our special friends from London, Hayley and Emma, who, sadly are due to leave us after a couple of months of fun, and fantastic volunteering. We will miss you both sooo much! Good luck for when you get home and get back to the grind of earning an income J

We also dug a toilet and drilled a well, we had to drill 60m! to get to water!

February also brought us Rick, and who made some amazing donations, including TEXT BOOKS! For each student, some shade sails and repairs to the road outside the school. Rick also brought some interesting ideas on curriculum and fundraising.

A small garden was planted and has since expanded a little, we have some flowers and mango trees, which the students are in charge of watering every morning and afternoon.

We also met Keris and Harry who brought wonderful art supplies, which, have just been put to great use for an art competition that we held. The prize was being able to paint their picture as part of the mural wall. It was an extremely fun project, where all the kids got involved and learned a little about primary colours and mixing paint, (it was a little scary at times though! The kids were so excited that it was hard to hold them back from mixing every colour into some bizarre shade of…brown…?) The result in the end was some excellent and interesting paintings in the mural!

Vanna had his birthday, which we had a little party for, involving the volunteers and teachers of ABC’s and Rice, SOID and VDCA. Everybody had a wonderful time and some good networking was achieved. Plus, the orphans had a blast on the Karaoke system, that’s when they could get the teachers off it, of course J!

March saw Emma and Hayley off to a couple of weeks in Vietnam for a well deserved break, and the introduction of Maggie and James, who spent only a short time with us, but, made a great impression on us and the students. We would like to thank them for their generous donation towards the tin roof, which will be up before the rain arrives!

The books that Dobber-Hockey donated also arrived, and with those a new curriculum designed to make learning easier and more comfortable for the students, teachers and volunteers. The books are an excellent colourful aide for the kids and their teachers. We have set up three 45 minute periods for the morning and afternoon sessions and teacher training on the use of text, exercise books and volunteers.

The writing and implementation of student, teacher and volunteer policies also took place, although we are still in the midst of getting a ‘volunteer handbook’ written. We will have it ready as soon as we possibly can.

April already! Well, April promises to be a busy month. Khmer New Year is upon us mid next week. This Friday we’ll have a student party in recognition of the most celebrated event in Cambodia. The students are very excited and can’t wait ‘til the end of the week, when they’ll play some traditional games and music. We’re sure its going to be a fabulous day, probably very tiring for everybody though!

We would like to invite anybody who happens to be in Siem Reap to stop by for the morning, we are planning to party from about 8am until 11am. The kids would love to have fun and games with you, a small donation of fresh fruit for the kids would be warmly welcomed.

At the conclusion of the party we will close the school until the 19th, which will give some of them the chance to head to their home towns to visit their families, and others to simply have a rest and a good time at home with their crew.

If only we could say the same for ourselves!

While the school is closed we are planning on doing some general maintenance around the school, including leveling classroom floors and fixing worn out desks and chairs, building repairs and general gardening.

Charlotte and Rich also started with us this week. We look forward to working with them over the next couple of weeks, we’re sure that they are going to be very useful helping us with the party and also our maintenance schedule next week.

Well that’s us pretty well up to date. We apologise again for the time between updates, as you can tell, we have been swamped with things to do.

We would like to take the opportunity to thank all of our donors and volunteers over the last couple of, hectic, months! We look forward to working with you in the future J


Talk to you all soon,


ABC’s and Rice


May 2010

Posted by Tammy Durand on Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Hi Everybody!

Well it’s the start of May already and things are moving along quickly!

All of the girls had an excellent time in Bangkok catching the New Year celebrations on their way home, though we think that Hayley and Emma would have preferred to get home sometime sooner than they did! Being stranded in Bangkok due to low flying ash over Europe could be fun, but when you’re well ready to hit the home town we’re sure that it would become rather tiresome. On the plus side, two nights in Mumbai in a hotel room with its own swimming pool courtesy of the airline couldn’t be too hard to handle!

New Year in Siem Reap was quite the busy period. A party at one of our friend’s restaurants, Real.Khmer.Cook., for their staff was on New Year’s Eve, ‘twas a jovial affair indeed. We managed to get home at a reasonable hour so that we could beat the heat and do the schools gardening early in the morning. The afternoon was spent with a quick trip out to Bakorng Temple/Pagoda to look at the festivities and market there. Loud it was!

The biggest news for the week was that Barry and Allison kindly organised for ABC’s & Rice to join the Charity Trivia circuit at the Funky Munky, held every Thursday, which generated $106 in donations and gives us the opportunity to be on the docket every four to five weeks. A fantastic networking opportunity for us, not to mention the donations from the evenings! Thanks Barry and Allison!

Friday came around and it was off to Chilli Si Dang for another trivia fundraiser, this time we shared the docket with Trailblazer Foundation and raised another $51.50 each. The money raised will go towards the weather proofing on our buildings, and drip water systems for remote communities through Trailblazer.

ANZAC day, 25/4 was a highlight for the local Aussie expats, the AFL was on at Rosie Guest House in the morning and a Two-up ring was put together at Chilli Si Dang, where we met Yvonne who will be volunteering alongside Barry and Mel, thanks Warren for the introduction, over the next couple of weeks. Both Mel and Yvonne have fantastic energy and wonderful ideas, we’re sure that the students will learn a great deal with you guys in the classroom!

The students had their first test quiz last week. We were very pleased with the high level of results achieved and with the way that they are learning and understanding the material they are studying. It certainly was highly entertaining to us watching the children protecting the work from the students next them. The level of pride that they take in their work is highly rewarding for us and beautiful to see in young imaginative and driven minds!

On Saturday we took the staff off to Globalteer for a very generous free introductory course on Child Protection. It was a fantastic morning, our teachers were very responsive, enthusiastic and they asked many thoughtful, intuitive and intelligent questions. They are all very keen to continue the courses in greater detail. We will continue to work hard in this area and have them complete the certified course in the near future.

This week we are on docket for the monthly Friday Trivia Night at Rosie Guest House and are very much looking forward to getting out there and meeting some new faces. And that friends, brings us pretty well up date for the last couple of weeks.

Thanks to all our supporters and donors, we will talk to you all very soon.

Haley and Emma we miss you! Juup khneer moi donk ti-it! (see you again)

Aakuun Jaraan (Thank-you very much)

-ABC’s & Rice-

December, 2009

Posted by Tammy D on December 24, 2009 at 7:17 AM Comments comments (0)

Butterfly Tears

Posted by Tammy Durand on Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Monday, December 7th

Over the jet lag and excited to go rice shopping. Vanna goes ahead to negotiate the best price; fearfull that the sight of a foreigner would increase the rate, I wait patiently with his wife just down a small dirt road. We get the call from Vanna and we head in.

Piles of rice!, over 4000 kilos have just been purchased in SOID's name. We will have one month's supply delivered today, and the rest will be stored over the next six months. Vanna is beside himself with glee, I grab the camera and the truck is off to deliver!

The rice is sorted as it is every month, only the portions are slightly bigger. The students seem happy and I am just thrilled to finally be reunited with them. I glance at each face in each class, looking for a handfull of specific children who had made such a conection with me last time, ahh there she is; Butterfly, the ABC's and Rice poster child, one of the poorest in Veal Village. Why is she crying so hard? I hold her and kiss her, trying to ask her what has happened. She holds me but is inconsolable, I notice that many of th smallest children look sad but I am occupied with my sweet, sad girl. One of the older children grab her briskly seeming to scould her for her sobbing. When I get translation I smile and well up with tears of joy...The dearly valued bag of rice is too big for her to carry home!

No worries, we arranged a driver ,Ha! 6 kids got to ride on the back of a motorcycle down the dirt roads of Veal Village.

Another happy ending :D

We did this!, YOU did this!

Thank you


I need to see a man about a pig!?!?

Posted by Tammy Durand on Thursday, December 17, 2009

A few days ago I received an email from a friend; a girl from her school wants to purchase piglets for Veal Village as Christmas presents for her family. A tremendous idea, fits in perfectly with the goals of ABC's and Rice, "a hand UP, as opposed to a hand out". So I ask around but there is concern with regards to the care of these piglets and the financial investment that would be needed. We bounce ideas off of each other, Vanna acting primarily as translator and we come up with the idea of a chicken coup.

It has taken off from there, today I purchased bamboo from a man in the village. The piles of bamboo are the remains of his family home (a shack at best) which was destroyed in the flood. Vania, myself and a few local boys began construction today and should be done by tomorrow. The family that will tend to the chickens will eventually be entitled to one dozen eggs a week, "Breakfast Club will take what is needed to feed the children each day and the rest will be shared amongst the villagers. As the chickens grow some will be sold or slaughtered for the meat, others will be kept for the eggs and a portion of the profits will be re-invested in Veal Village's very own Chicken farm!

I have yet to hear back from the lady who wanted to buy piglets, and am not sure if she would like to contribute by purchasing chickens instead; but ABC's and Rice is buying 2 full grown hens and 20 chicks. I personally will buy 1 hen, and 10 chicks ($30 US) this is my Christmas gift to my parents. Perhaps some of my readers would be interested in partaking?

The Children of Veal village would be more than happy to make you all home made Christmas / Thank you cards and I could mail them off along with pictures.

Every aspect of this project feeds directly back in to the village right down to the wood that would otherwise have been rendered useless.

It is an amazing feeling to be a part of such positive changes. I welcome you to take part. God bless, and Happy holidays to you all.


Sunshine, Lollipops, and Tuk-tuks

Posted by Tammy Durand on Thursday, December 24, 2009

Dec 23, 2009

My life is Sunshine, lollipops, and Tuk-Tuks, everything that's wonderful; that's for sure!

Today we had a "grand opening" if you will for the Veal Village's chicken coupe.

A few children from breakfast club, along with some of the orphans visited the coupe during lunch break. We sang a few songs, chased the chickens around, and enjoyed a lunch of rice with eggs,(from the market as our chickens wont be producing for a while yet). Then they were treated to a lollipop and a tuk tuk ride through town.

Most of the children had never rode a tuk-tuk or even been to town.

They giggled at every bump, and pointed with awe at the large buildings and trucks. It stirred an amazing mixture of emotions, to see them so wide eyed and wonder-struck over the simplest of things.

I hope to somehow share some of my joy with all of you.

Of course; as always, there were many hugs, kisses and tickles. I have more than enough warm fuzzies here in my heart to keep all of Canada warm this winter, so I'm sending them your way now... Catch!


Much Love from all of us to all of you,



Tammy and the children of Veal Village,

September / October 2009, And There was No Turning Back!

Posted by Tammy D on October 30, 2009 at 7:10 AM Comments comments (0)

Foodland, Capreol

Posted by Tammy Durand on Sunday, September 20, 2009

Thanks so much to Joanne and Steve at Capreol's Foodland!

We had a great turn out, raising funds and awareness for the ABC & Rice campaign. the community support has been overwhelming.

Special thanks to Teri-lynn for keeping me company, you really are a wonderful help :)


ABC's and Rice made front page of the Star!

Posted by Tammy Durand on Wednesday, September 30, 2009

A few mis-quotes least we are getting noticed!

check it out


Crank it Up and ABC Go, the Re-cap

Posted by Tammy Durand on Sunday, October 11, 2009

What a busy week!!

Where to start? Saturday, Oct 3rd-Crank it up in Cape-town

All the planning is over and what a success the night was… The band was phenomenal, the turn out of friends and family…heart warming.

Lots of dancing, partying, and an amazing response to the fund raising efforts of ABC’s and Rice.

Thanks to all who attended, helped, and donated!


Sunday was a crazy day of cleaning and packing for ABC Go; two of my favorite ladies and myself all going nuts as we realized that there was a lot of planning not yet tended to (hee hee).


On Monday morning (oh-so early) we met with friends at Tutti frutti for a fabulous breakfast! Ange and Matt showed up for some laughs and words of encouragement, Tom; owner of Tutti Frutti posed for some pics, and sent us off with a very generous donation. We hit sturgeon Falls 5 hours and $300 later. What a great start! We thought of carrying on but couldn’t leave when we realized that there was an elaborate dinner planned and a whole welcoming committee. So great to talk with family about plans for assisting SOID, sharing stories and pictures.


We got an early start on Tuesday, Hit North Bay first thing in the morning and Barry of “Cheap Skates” gave the Red Rocket a once over, and sent me off with a spare tube (just incase). The three girls killed a bit of time walking through town and finally picked up the \red \rocket with a clean bill of health. The lovely folks at Boston Pizza treated us to lunch, and Courtney of CTV took some pics. I have yet to see what made the news that night but Courtney promised to use the “skinny lens” LOL.

Got lost for a few hours in the back roads of Chisolm township that night (in the rain); but we eventually made it to the Algonquin Motel on Hwy 11.

Jennifer ran in to give the sob story, but before she could even start the pitch Tim was handing over a key and offering dinner. Martha and Tim (owners of this quaint motel) are quite possibly the coolest/kindest people we have ever met. Together with their 5 rescued pooches, they run this cool little motel and bead shop. We HIGHLY recommend a stop there next time you travel down 17.


On top of all their kindness Tim and Martha sent me off Wednesday morning with a generous donation and we were Huntsville bound! Wednesday was going quite smoothly, the van pulled ahead and I passed the sign that said Huntsville 15km …whoot hoot…..POP! A flat! Ouch!!! It was a LONGGGGGGG walk in to town but Fred of Muskoka Cycle fixed us up and the folks at Metro offered us a $25 grocery gift certificate. We took our dinner back to the Hotel (Comfort Inn, J Thanks Steve!) and relaxed for the evening. POOPED!


Thursday was BRUTAL!!!!!!!!

13 hour straight of back roads and HILLS. Lots and lots of HILLS ugghhhh. Luckily I had Jen, not only did she hop on her own bike and cruise with me at times but as the day grew longer she walked many of the tough hills with me or stood at the top cheering me on as I slowly biked them... Jen Rocks!

Anyways we made it to Barrie where we met Monica, the lovely lady who offered us a room at Travelodge. As it turned out that mattress in the back of the van served as nothing more than something to take up space YAY! I don’t think any of us were looking forward to three ladies cuddling in the cold on a single mattress.


Barrie to East York was a breeze! Six hours, primarily down hill. We had a great night with Matt and Ranjit, LOVE YOU Ronny!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


In total ABC and Rice has now passed the $4000 mark! We officially have enough for 6months worth of rice, and a cow. I hope to raise more yet, a second cow, and some much needed repairs as Veal Village is currently flooded. So I am not sure what we will be doing next but there will be lots going on for the next 6 or 7 weeks. Wish us luck!