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Its been a busy few months for both us and Manna4Life since our last newsletter. On a personal note, we have been overjoyed to welcome our beautiful daughter Beracah into the world! Being parents ourselves now only makes us more committed to ensuring the success of The Mango Tree School in providing a quality education for the children in the village. Its also been a busy time for the village and school, with lots of projects underway.

At this time of year, we take time to reflect on the many blessings we have in our lives and to think of those who have not been as fortunate as us in 2016. We thank all of our wonderful sponsors and supporters for their donations and contributions over the last year. Your contributions have helped empower the people of Tang Khiev and given them the opportunity to make meaningful changes to their lives and that of their children. 
We are looking forward to 2017 and thank you so much for coming with us on this journey!
- Kevin & Leakhena Knight (Founders, Manna4Life) and baby Beracah
Our school continues to operate with amazing success:
  • In November, a 5th grade class was added to our primary school, increasing overall student numbers to 180! The students are excited to come to school and learn and we see the benefits, not only in themselves, but also in their families and the whole community.  
  • The Manna4Life teaching staff has also grown to 11 (1 Principal, 5 Government teachers, 5 teachers assistants).  
  • Excitingly, the ‘food program’ through the school kitchen opened last month providing a nutritious lunch to the pupils every school day and employment for 3 villagers.  It is being extremely well received by the students and the village.  
  • In addition to this, the Community and Manna4Life are looking forward to further expansion, when we plan to build a new school for years 1 – 8 on recently purchased land adjacent to the village, when we generate future funding.
Community projects are also progressing well:
  • The village greenhouse has been erected and aquaponics equipment purchased as part of the farming project.  
  • The building to be used on the farm project (but also as a training centre) is 90% complete and
  • We are looking forward to getting both of these projects operational.
For more information on the current status of our projects (and our completed projects) please check out our updated website: commencement and completion of our projects is dependent on the generous contributions of our current (and future!) supporters. If you, or someone you know, can assist us in reaching our fundraising and sponsorship goals, we would be truly appreciative.
Sovann* is an energetic 10 year old, attending 4th grade at The Mango Tree School. He is the third of five children, and lives with his grandparents in the village while his parents undertake construction work in the city. His teachers that find him to be a diligent student, who will study hard and who is quite good at his reading and writing exercises. In his free time, his teachers have noted that he will always take a book to read, will draw or will do exercises because he is very keen to pass into the next grade. He likes to ask questions in class, and asks the teacher to explain when he does not understand.

Like many energetic little students, sometimes Sovann can be a bit talkative in class with his friends, but the teachers help to keep his mind focussed with lots of interesting things to do. Students at The Mango Tree School are fortunate that with the help of their sponsors they have access to Art, Music and Computing lessons in addition to the standard government school curriculum. This helps to enrich students lives and keep students like Sovann motivated to learn in class. With the encouragement of The Mango Tree School, his teachers are certain that he will become an outstanding student in the coming years.

* Children's names are changed to protect their identities.

Manna4Life's amazing local staff make a vital contribution to the charity's success. Working on the ground, side by side with the villagers, their impact cannot be understated. We truly appreciate every one of them, and to show how important they are, we would like to introduce them to you. In this newsletter, we would like to introduce Sitha Chheng.
Sitha has been at The Mango Tree School for a year and a half carrying out the essential task of liaising between the school, its students and the community.  She has spent as much time as possible getting to know the families, visiting their homes, speaking with them about their children, and encouraging parents and grandparents to send their children to school so that they can break the cycle of inter-generational poverty. Along with family liaison Sitha is a relief teacher, does office work and research for the school and village, and is constantly practising her First Aid skills on children with cuts and bruises and grazes.

Before arriving at the village, Sitha had a high level job as administration assistant for  a large company in Phnom Penh but she did not find satisfaction or happiness there.  During her year in the position, she felt increasingly uncomfortable, and her lifestyle became erratic.  She became sick, she had a motorbike accident, she went out all the time – and she was unhappy.  

Over time Sitha increasingly felt a pull towards a more spiritual and meaningful way of life, and remembered her old friend Leakhena and the work she was doing with Manna4Life. An opportune catch up resulted in a job offer with The Mango Tree School - a position with less pay than her job at the time, but offering her much more meaning and fulfilment. Although she had to leave her family and the city she feels it has been an excellent decision to join the team. 

Sitha graduated with a Bachelor’s Degree in Tourism in 2015 learning management skills, computer skills, logistics, marketing, finance and much more.  She has been speaking English since she was a child and helps complete many of the translation tasks in the village. She plans to stay at The Mango Tree School for a long time as she is very happy here!
Four days a week after main school finishes, the Sport teacher goes with the children to a grassy area where they can learn the skills of soccer.  This is a very popular activity! Exercises are carried out, dribbling and passing and shooting skills are developed, and match preparation is discussed.  Students of different ages learn team skills and there is always a small crowd of spectators to encourage them.
On a final note... Merry Christmas to you all!!
Christmas is a time of celebration in the village. All of the students delight in taking part in a School Christmas Pageant and each receive a special gift [this year sponsored by Dunedin City Baptist Church and Vision Trust]! In our next newsletter we will bring you a recap of the students celebrations.

From the team at Manna4Life and The Mango Tree School we wish you and your families a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!
Give A Child An Education Today!
The Mango Tree Primary School and associated child sponsorships are undertaken in partnership with Global Development Group (ABN 57 102 400 993) (Project J835N), an Australian NGO approved by the Minister for Foreign Affairs, and the Great Commission Stories. For more information about the tax deductibility of donations and how donations are distributed within Manna4Life projects please refer to the Manna4Life website for donation information for your region.
Copyright © 2016 Manna4Life, All rights reserved.

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