ABCs and Rice

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Cha Bryn

Posted by Tammy D on August 25, 2012 at 6:40 AM

On June 22nd, 2012 this world lost an amazing man and ABCs and Rice lost an angel.

Mr Bryn Manley came to ABCs in November 2010.A beautiful man, with a pair of knees that couldn’t keep up with his spirit rolled out of a tuk tuk outside of our school and showed a smile that melted the hearts of the staff and children alike.

An oddity, as most short-term volunteers arrive nervous and excited, waiting for direction, Bryn arrived with paper, crayons, fruit and a clear direction.

Fruit (always a hit at the center) made teacher Bryn the star attraction. That was, until it became clear that the watermelon was not for eating :/

Like a man on a mission, he sliced the fruit, while directing a teacher to translate key words, like LOOK!

Bryn sat the first group down, mouths watering, and he gave in. Instead of each drawing their own piece of fruit they ate. One piece left for all to look at and voila ART! The children were so pleased with their creations, and with the treat that it became rule for the next 2 weeks, snack, look, create.

Teacher Bryn was a legend amongst the children and made a lot of life long friends in such a short amount of time, it was plain to see that an extension was coming. It did! Once his volunteer experience through Globalteer had ended, he opted to extend. Then returned to his home in England to sort out a few things so that he could stay longer.

Before we knew it we had all become a family, working together for and at ABCs by day, collaborating and socializing by night. The children were our purpose, each other, our strength.

Bryn’s generosity and that of his friends and colleagues over-seas sponsored a full time art program. Bryn worked with an area architect to design the new art building and from there started regular lessons at each age level.

ABCs and Rice continued to grow, the art program blossomed and in March of this year we held “LOOL LOOK, LOOK”. Our first art exhibition. It was an amazing success. The monies raised were enough to re-stock the paint cupboards for at least a year, but more importantly the pride in the smiles of the children and parents involved was PRICELESS.

Cha Bryn could not have been more proud and it was so clear to see.

Sadly, it was then that we began to see the signs of his health deteriorating. Our beloved Bryn had cancer, and no amount of love was going to keep him here.

Through his last few months those of us who were so very blessed to be by his side heard the many stories of the amazing life this humble man had led.

He shared his fond memories of life in England and the U.S, of his friends, colleagues, students and family. He son, Dean, how very proud he was, and all of the adventures they had shared. And, of course his beloved wife Kathy, who he had lost to cancer long before his new life here in Cambodia.

His last few days were spent here at the Royal Angkor International Hospital. We, the adopted family were with him at all times. The hospital room was adorned with plants, family photos and the children’s artwork. I must admit, the doctors and nurses there were fabulous. Many of whom attended the funeral and memorial services that were held the following week.

It was 130am on Friday the 22nd when he took his last breath. We stayed with him for a couple of hours more. If I can say one thing is for sure, it is that he did go peacefully in his sleep, surrounded by love.

We held a funeral for him on Monday, June 25th at noon at Wat Damnak (a local Buddhist Pagoda) where the children of ABCs joined. Afterwards, the children and their parents were sent off and friends joined at one of his favorite restaurants for sandwiches provided by the staff, and a toast of J&B with coke.

The school remained closed, through until that Wednesday morning, when we held a celebration of life party. There was food for the children, and Bryn's music playing loudly throughout the school yard (mostly Don Henley and Dolly Parton). We spoke briefly of our love and sorrow for teacher Bryn; then the children were asked to go off and write a message or create a painting for their beloved teacher. As the children came back with their messages and creations, they were pinned to a giant cork board, around a beautiful picture of Bryn with some of the students.

It is a beautiful tribute and will hang in the art room, where Bryn taught, forever.

We ended the day by having the children sign their names on our office /library wall. This was a project that Bryn had planned for some time, but sadly never saw happen.

Our dear friend is so greatly missed, and will forever be in our hearts.

Rest in peace Love. XO

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