Another publication in the french Glamour magazine, about Tina Keffer and her NGO in Cambodia…
Nice publication in GALA’s French edition (even if I do not like the reframing of my photos !!!).
A photo of Tina Kieffer with the schoolgirls from Happy Chandara.
Once again, the opportunity to encourage you to help the association Tous à l’école, created by Tina Kieffer, who helps and teaches young girls in Cambodia.
GALA No. 1231 - January 11, 2017
Great joy to see the first publication of several photos of my work in Cambodia, with Tina Kieffer and his pupils of Happy Chandara, in L'Express Style of the week (the supplement of L'Express N°3410). Happy 10th anniversary to the NGO created by Tina for helping kids! You can support by sponsoring a child on her official website: www.toutes-a-l-ecole.org/
This is my last day in Happy Chandara.
Tomorrow morning I will leave to stay the weekend in Phnom Penh waiting for my flight, Monday I will leave towards Ho Chi Min, Doha, Barcelona and finally Perpignan …
One gets always used a little, we created bonds. The last two days, a pupil had made me paper boat and yesterday another pupil drew me a snail.
It’s touching and I hope to come back soon.
I was outside early; around 06:00. Many pupils who live outside the school arrive at about 05:30, brought by their parents who go to work in the fields or in the city and who cannot take care of them.
I watch them play with rubber bands, they play same way as girls in Europe do to.
And then they eat. Noodles, with chopsticks, in small transparent plastic bags; they eat fruit, too.
And then they do their hair together.
At 7:30, the raise of the color. The Cambodian and French flag and all pupils stand up silent and aligned aside and do not move an eyelash.
At noon, after eating some rice and a dragon fruit (I think I lost lose 4 or 5 kg!) I went mountain biking in the countryside. It is amazing to see the things that the Khmers carry on their small bikes, by pulling supplies on tiny but fully loaded trailers: banana bunches, bricks, and this morning a veritable jeans and shirts shop.
Yet another, overloaded with a jumble of all kind, ranging from cookware to plastic ducks reminded me of Castorama, a french brand who said : Chez Casto, there’s all you’ll need!
Earlier this afternoon, I returned to school attending a class of “window on the world.”
In the meantime the oldest are there watching a movie about the life of Somali top model Waris Dirie.
A fascinating and dramatic life, circumcised at the age of 3, she managed to flee the country, but became a slave to the Somali ambassador in London, before being one of the most requested models in the world. Later, she became “goodwill ambassador” of the UN, against female genital mutilation.
After the movie, the Khmer teacher launches a debate on the situation of women, the difference in general, and the future of women in Cambodia. The students are moved and are giving their well-marked opinion.
With this group, mentalities change. It is also one of the achievements of the Association Toutes à l’ecole and Tina Kieffer : forming free women, strong with beautiful values …
The monsoon has arrived … Anyway, the first signs.
The rains continues to fall since early this morning and despite this heavy rain, the day has been photographically disrupted.
I have spend the morning at the high school where students had tests in English, mathematics, and French.
I think that the overall level in English of the major students is excellent.
It is necessary to say that at Happy Chandara, the children start learning English from the first year, somewhere around 5 or 6 years!
I’m wondering why do we not do the same in France …
These children become educated women and will be able to take part in tomorrow’s economic life and reconstruction of a country where men dominate.
This is not inevitable and Tina Kieffer has understood this very well by establishing this school and offering the opportunity to these disadvantaged children.
In the start of the school year (2015-2016) , there were 1160 pupils to follow this quality education. We just have learned with a smile, that more than one hundred of new children will incorporate next schoolyear and will also comeback here.
Rain falls again … its nap time for the smallest. They lie against each other on woven mats.
A bright spot … Time to play a little … and then the day passes so quickly in Happy Chandara that the bell ringing already …
And under torrents of rain, school is finished …
Yesterday, no Wi-Fi or very little, and therefore impossible to write on my blog. It’s a little better today, despite a rainstorm, of which Cambodia possesses the secret that made me soaking wet.
Yesterday morning, after photographing some classes, I found myself on a path bordering a stream. There, jasmine pickers filled bags under a blazing sun.
In fact, Cambodia is a country that is organized around the waterways and roads. The villages follow the water, houses are built in rows without ever going too deep in the forest.
I see scenes of life, images that I capture; a woman who is cooking chicken legs, a frankly poor man sells not fresh eggs, young monks are begging, some small boys are playing soccer…
Faces follow each other up from school to the villages and I always notice the same depth, the same strength, the same kindness in the eyes of Cambodians.
This morning Khmer writing classes and English lessons; the little ones give their whole heart to the work.
Mimi asks me to take some pictures of students for their sponsors who sent those gifts. This is to show, how pleased they are with their attentions. They have the chance to have “guardian angels” who watch over them from far away, benevolently. I accept willingly because I know it will please the sponsors (and Mimi who makes the best soup in the world!).
Some received a watch, a necklace, a pretty dresses, others drawing materials, a small top and earrings … Their eyes shine from excitement.
Then Mimi and I go into a chook-chook, with a mother and two students, to visit families on the island that faces Happy Chandara: Anloung Chen Island, in the middle of the Bassac River.
The passage of the ferry is nice and a light breeze refreshes us a little bit; the teenager at the rudder “controls” with his feet, his thighs, rarely with his hands.
On the island we come across some temples and then arrive at the family of Kun Srey Srars, pupil in 6th class at Happy Chandara. The father, abusive and alcoholic, abandoned her mother and six brothers. They live very poor and they certainly do not eat every day…
The mother is brave and never complains about her fate. She protects her children and takes care of them the best she can. They never fail love.
One of the kids bikes; he must have 7 years at the most. His bike has no saddle, he has crafted one with a coconut. Resourceful this little one …
Back at Happy Chandara, I made the acquaintance with Philippe, the gardener of the boarding school who is miraculously grows fruits and vegetables in a permaculture garden.
What is permaculture? The word “permaculture” by itself is a contraction of “(agri) permanent culture.”
Creating a permaculture garden can meet towards our human needs while enhancing our environment (development of biodiversity, creating habitats for wildlife and beneficial insects, enriching the earth …).
The garden is flourishing, reveling in in this favorable climate.
My day unfolded under the sign of water … The water garden, water of the Bassac River and the ferry, the water a thunderstorm which falls now. I left by mountain bike to reach the ferry again, just to see the small school’s students go home on the water, as the bell sounded.
They are surprised and happy to see me make a last goodbye and they do some hand signals while the frail craft longs away into nothing, however, seems to stand still …
(with Tina Kieffer)
Sunday in Phnom Penh …
Early this morning I went to the “White Building” …
A concrete bar of 350 meters long, near the town center, designed by the Khmer architect Vann Molyvann, in the 60s.
In the 70s, deserted because of the seizure of power by the Khmer Rouge, subsequently it had a second blast, reinvested by genocide survivors.
A 4 floor dilapidated, crumbling ruin, amidst garbage and malodor.
Lots of the residence are provincials, who came to town in hope to find a job.
But the reputation of the White Building is equivocal, a real hideout for delinquents, drug addicts and prostitutes.
I also cross monks begging from door to door, imparting the neighborhood with a particular rhythm of their nagging melodies…
Abruptly, I followed the monks, into one of their neighborhoods … A chook-chook driver, curious and unoccupied, proposed me to pose with one of them … Being on the other side of my objective is a rare moment, and particular…
(My friend the monk)
Back to Villa Langka, lunch and a powerful thunderstorm. Oh rage! Oh despair! Oh age, my enemy! Said Don Diegue in Le Cid (….by Corneille … … and no, not the singer, but the playwright of the seventeenth century, thank you!).
Tonight, I set out again to Happy Chandara …
Early this morning, we attended at the raising of the flags, all students were present to make a plan for the anniversary film with Tina Kieffer for the existence of 10 years of ‘Toutes à l’ecole”, directed by the dynamic Sophie Bourde .
Some plans where made with a drone, and attacked by pigeons; but we avoided the drama!
Tina and I then took the opportunity, to do some portraits with the children.
The kids look at Tina with eyes full of love, instinctively, they know how she fought for them for so many years.
Then I went to take pictures in college. In French class and the exercise of today was about writing a postcard to the godparents.
I noticed that they were doing this wholeheartedly.
Happy Chandara, has also a great collaboration with the L’Oréal Foundation. Therefore, they are also forming hair stylists and beauticians here. However Tina Kieffer wishes to give these young girls the best, so they also receive specialized instruction in management and English.
I attend elsewhere in strenuous exercises in the form of a role play, where students take the roles of a client and a hair stylist. I am impressed to see how well they already have a very sophisticated English vocabulary in this field. I take pictures and then pass in the adjoining class in which a guy gets clipped a cool Boys Band fringe. The teacher is very attentive to her students and you can feel invested. The others do hair styling, make-up, varnish nails, all with L’Oreal products, of course.
At Happy Chandara, diner time is always a cheerful time of sharing and exchange. We all eat together; the tall seated amidst the small. The opportunity to have fun, and a lot!
There are a lot of volunteers here, this week, two gynecologists came to visit especially to educate the young girls.
I watch with amusement two children among the youngest having fun. One of them, with a plastic stéthoscope in hand, auscultates the other. A new generation…
I can see a strong symbol of healthy ambition from Tina for her small apprentices. To form strong women, to arm them professional with responsibilities, blooming in their lives.
And then I leave again to cycle on these unpaved roads with dirt and on which it is difficult to breathe when trucks are making dirty opaque clouds, asphyxiation your lungs, when they cross.
Encounters that are etched forever in my memory.
I think back of the woman in the photo I made, her hair treated, who knows by whom, a friend or her sister, outdoors.
Look at her face, how she must have suffered, but can you see the tenderness she has in her eyes, the sweetness in her smile?
I see many of these faces, Cambodia. We often speak of “inner beauty”; I believe, myself, that this beauty is seen on the outside, drawn in the wrinkles of their faces, weathered by many hardships, but not that one of love…
This morning, Mimi (in real “mom” to everyone in Happy Chandara, her heart on her sleeve) and I went to visit the family of two little girls from school, living in an astonishing poverty.
The father sells Jasmin in Phnom Penh, but denounced by competitors, he and his wife to spend three weeks in jail; with no money to buy their freedom from the police….
Imagine … Three weeks in a prison in Cambodia for selling jasmine on the streets, only to provide for his family in the greatest need …
They have four daughters (the two largest are at boarding school), the grandmother lives with them, sick, in a single small cabin of wave plates and bamboo on stilts above the stagnant water …
And these people greet you with a smile that you rises your soul…
It was also an opportunity to see early in the morning flag-raising, and 1000 girls in uniform lend themselves devour their school books.
They are moving, these children, and I think at my daughter, Agatha, who would hear well with some of these little girls filled with playfulness and malice in their eyes.
The only problem is my Agatha would certainly not like the local breakfast: rice and sardines … Our children, in Europe, do not know how they all have …
I see these young students playing basketball under the banana trees, learning sewing and embroidery, mathematics and Khmer. I cross others, larger, on the stairs, preparing for an English test. We exchange a few words and they show me how well they have learned their lessons. Congratulations girls, congratulations you’re self-sacrificing teachers, and congratulations to Tina, Mimi, Danielle, Denis, all employees and trainees from “Toutes à l’école – All to School” for the great job that I see, never ceasing to marvel…
These girls, thanks to the association, will not be doomed to the fields like their mother, and their grandmothers before them, but they will become tomorrow’s doctors, architects, teachers, lawyers. Maybe like my partner, SocieteA, legal advisers, who would undoubtedly be moved to see Happy Chandara, I am sure, as both are beautiful people (again thank you Celine Hernandez & Sebastian Mafray!).
This afternoon, Denis lent me his mountain bike. How did he even imagine that I could drive on this rickety frame?
Along the dirt road bumpy by the millions of trucks, 4×4, motorcycles who engage on an annual basis, people are living. They are living as best they can that is, of not much, but enough.
Some sell gasoline in old glass liter bottles of Coca-Cola, others sell sodas and beers, of which freshness is questionable. I see barbershops made of bits and pieces, and women seeding jasmine … I meet old men exhausted by the weight of banana bunches (probably several hundred kilos) plodding on mopeds out of another century.
Entering a small path, attracted by loud music, I run into the preparations of a wedding. Temples, which stand proudly towards the baking sun burning my elegant balding.
People greet me, and I go towards them, we are discussing they in Khmer myself in French or English, always with the same result: we did not understand a word … but we understand each other anyway!
I mean by that, that they welcome me and I’m interested in them, they smile at me and I smile back. I take pictures, which I show them on my Nikon screen. They love it, they laugh, and then, much like new friends, we separate by making hand signs…
First full day in Happy Chandara.
A morning-visit together with Tina Kieffer, at absolutely all the classrooms, from College, High School to Vocational Education.
All the teachers and all the students are now aware that I’m there, that I will pass as discreetly as possible, everywhere, frequently, making pictures.
I crossed only smiling faces…
This afternoon, I started to take photographs. The young school girls like taking pictures; they laugh, make jokes.
I attended at drawing class, Khmer, mathematics, computing, traditional dance. They enjoy learning and it’s nice to see.
There are so many things to photograph here; “Toutes à l’école (All to School)” is a wonderful NGO that demands respect. Tina Kieffer has built all of this in only ten years. Well done, Tina!
Here, everything is made to provide the best for the young girls with the noble ambition, that later they become women with blooming professionally.
And then a thundering storm arrives. Cloudbursts, and then the sun comes back and smiles too.
In the late afternoon, I went to “lose” myself upon vague roads, muddy, in the lush countryside.
People live there, along the roads, in sheds made of wave plate and wood.
I have photographed the misery and dignity.
Because you have no idea of the conditions under which these people live.
Because you have no idea of the brightness of their smiles, despite everything, their sense of hospitality, their instinctive kindness …
Standing in the mud, I saw poor people, but yet laughing.
The challenge has reached the budget of 100% +.
Thanks to all of you who have been so generous ! A huge thank you , especially to my partners SOCIETEA (Law firm in France) :
An huge thanks also for all the donors:
H.R.H. Prince Michael of Yougoslavia, Nathalie Saluzzi, Karine Courtin, Corine Malzac, Nina Drew, Laurie Guichard Fiancette, Santa Maria, Henri Terres, Anne-Isabelle Gaillard, Julien Marigo, Carole Prunier, Karima Lakhdar, Michèle Bru, Stéphanie Duval, Michel Caball & Caball Immobilier, Thierry Patricolo, Ericke Schut, Philippe Wodianyk, Philippe Picard, Philippe Garcia, Rolland Dalmau, Pierre Aigret, Jean-yves Lacherie, Denis Dupont, Elodie Lapiczak-leydier, Sandrine Ppn, Stéphanie Dunyach, Jacques Robineau, Laure Mathieu, Sidonie Sacchini, Sylvie Barbier, Laurence Jourdain, Stéphanie Planes, Catherine Horemans, Virginie Charles, Sylvain Leignier, Laurine Thiodet, Florence Rambure, Yolande Belasco, Pascale Dumazet, Jean-Claude Moulart, Fabienne Stroh, Cyril Lubin, Valérie Silvert, Coolcat66, Blandine Clément, Coralie Rigual-prats, Caroline Martin, Yves Decordt, Natali Felix, Alice Wallard, Sophie Ramoneda, Olivier Bolte, Sandra Boens, Jean-Charles Martinez, Michel Font, Marie-Pierre Rodriguez, André Maydat, Maurice Garcia Bes, Nicolas Buck, Sylvain Philippon, Philippe Clerc, Monique Monnet, Cécile Benoit Picchi, Gwéna Piquepaille, Isabelle Bertrand, Vincent Fourquet, Elisabeth Ronde, Liz 1, Amélie Rullion, Charlotte Van Proeyen & Jacques Bousquet !
There are still 6 days left to collect, so for those who still wish to donate, go to : http://www.ulule.com/reportage-photo-cambodge
Thanks in advance!
What’s left for me is to make beautiful pictures so that the auction will be an enormous success and that we can offer the maximum to these children who really deserve it !
My friend Nicolas Caudeville made me an interview on his blog “L’Archipel Strike Back” (L’archipel contre attaque).
The opportunity to introduce my next photo reprtage in Cambodia for the journalist Tina Kieffer and the association she heads: “All at school.” (Toutes à l’école)
The video interview:
Today, 36% of the budget is fixed but I still need your donations, your generosity and your good heart!
I hope you are all very well.
I have a favor to ask you…I have to leave very soon to Cambodia for a humanitarian reportage about destitute girls.
Journalist Tina Kieffer has created an organization that helps young children and already educates more than 1000 of them. She has built three schools near Phnom Penh, and she dresses and nourish them!
Tina Kieffer asked me to produce a photo reportage on the schools and about these children, and the work of her association.
ALL PHOTOS ARE SOLD AT AN AUCTION, ALL FOR THE BENEFIT OF THESE YOUNG GIRLS (100% of the money raised will be donated), at the exhibition and at the opening media and culture personalities will be involved, such as Claire Chazal and Jean-Jacques Aillagon (former Minister of Culture).
This reportage and this trip is very expensive, and I decided to appeal to your good heart and ask for your donations to help these children who have suffered enough already (many orphans, victims of child prostitution …).
You can make a donation of any kind, on the page of my project here:
And just as important, please, share this email and the link to my page of Ulule to reach your family, friends, that this reportage will be created and that, all of us can help to a noble cause …
I NEED YOU !
Thank you in advance!
Gregory Herpe, Photographer
PS: Of course I remain at your disposal if you want more information…