Posted by: Michele Mclellan | February 5, 2009

Fun with XO’s

Fun with XO's at Michele's house in Cambodia.

Fun with XO's at Michele's house in Cambodia.

Yari asked whether the kids in Cambodia are having fun with the computers. They say “Yes.” In Khmer, the language of Cambodia, that would be “Ba” if the speaker is male and “Ja” if the speaker is a female.

Favorites on the XO’s are: The jigsaw puzzles, the slider puzzle and making photos and videos. Even two-year-old Treleak gets into it!

Treleak, 2, enjoys XO and climbing on the table.
Treleak, 2, enjoys XO and climbing on the table.
Posted by: Michele Mclellan | January 28, 2009

Life on the Mekong River

I’ve been neglecting this blog. But a question from Rajana at Jump Start in Ohio on an earlier post got me thinking that I could write a few pieces on the village where I live when I am in Cambodia. It is Phum Thum village, with about 5,000 residents. It is about 20 kilometers south of Phnom Penh, the capital city of Cambodia.

Close as it is to the city, the village is very rural. Most of the people are farmers or fishermen or do a bit of both.¬† Rajana asked about animals. Most people raise some cows and some chickens. There are a lot of dogs here but very few cats. (In parts of Phnom Penh, it’s not unsual to see monkeys, but I haven’t seen any here.)

My house sits on high stilts above a section of the Mekong River. During rainy season — August-September — the water comes to the very bottom of the house. In dry season, such as now, the house is over dry land at the bank of the river.

Rajana also asked about swimming. People swim in the river and sometimes do their laundry in the river too. Small boats are a common way of getting around — especially to the market town near year, Koky, and two and from a small island across from the village.

Here are some photos taken from my deck overlooking the river.

Children learn to use boats on the Mekong at an early age.

Children learn to use boats on the Mekong at an early age.


This man brought a boatload of produce from the island fields to the village one morning.

This man brought a boatload of produce from the island fields to the village one morning.


Net fishing is common on this stretch of the Mekong between Phnom Penh and the Vietnam border.

Net fishing is common on this stretch of the Mekong between Phnom Penh and the Vietnam border.


After he casts his net, the fisherman waits for the fish to arrive.

After he casts his net, the fisherman waits for the fish to arrive.


Early morning on the Mekong River in Phum Thum.

Early morning on the Mekong River in Phum Thum.

Posted by: Michele Mclellan | December 16, 2008

Budding photographers!

Young neighbors in Kien Svay try out OLPC computers

Young neighbors in Kien Svay try out OLPC computers

Young children seem to be fast studies on the OLPC laptops

Young children seem to be fast studies on the OLPC laptops

More neighbor children have been over to try out the XO laptops. The older ones ask about the Internet, but so far the computers talk only to one another!

The children spend hours photographing one another and themselves with the laptop cameras. I think I will try to figure out how to transfer the photos to my computer and set up an online photo gallery. (I’m learning too!)

So far, we are inviting neighbors over to the house. The idea of a “drop in center” will evolve, I think. In Cambodia, people are not casual about sending their children off to the home of a stranger, so for now, we will invite children we know, talk to more parents and let the project get established over time.

Posted by: Michele Mclellan | December 10, 2008

Greetings from Cambodia!

Children try out OLPC laptops in village in Kien Svay, Cambodia

Children try out OLPC laptops in village in Kien Svay, Cambodia

The new OLPC laptops got their first test at my home in Kien Svay District. Three local children (Poline, 13; Kusal, 11, and Treleak, 2,) tried out the laptops Saturday and took to them right away! The Jigsaw Puzzle and taking photos are the most popular activities so far. By Sunday, the older kids were making small videos. They are eager to try some additional programs that I’m not yet familiar with. Anyone got instructions for TamTamJam?
I am encouraged by how much the children enjoy the laptops and how much they can figure out on their own — even though most of the English is unfamiliar and they haven’t spent any time with computers. It’s a real credit to the MIT designers of the OLPC laptops.
Meanwhile, I am settling in and enjoying my beautiful view of the Mekong. As soon as I line up a translator, I will start seeking advice around the village for the best way to set up a drop-in center for kids who want to play with the laptops.

Posted by: Michele Mclellan | December 4, 2008

We’re off!

Thursday morning, I start my 24-hour journey to Cambodia with five XO laptops for children in Kien Svay district south of Phnom Penh. I’m very excited about the trip and about the thrilled response I know I will see in the children as they get a chance to play and learn on XO laptops.

I’ll keep you posted as things move along. Thanks again to all our donors!

Posted by: Michele Mclellan | November 17, 2008

XO’s on sale

The much anticipated sale of XO laptops started today. That’s the good news. The promised price reduction (from $399 to give one and get one) failed to materialize. So at Jump Start Cambodia, the fund raising continues (hint, hint).

At the new price, we raised enough money for one. I’d like to order a second one, to make a total of five I can take to the village in Cambodia. Time is short; I am leaving Dec. 4.

You can make a tax deductible contribution to Jump Start by check to Jump Start, 1375 Spillan Road, Yellow Springs, OH 45387. Please be sure to write Cambodia in the memo.

We are setting up a ChipIn account. If you’d like to donate online, please shoot me an e-mail and I’ll let you know as soon as that account is ready. E-mail me at michele.mclellan at yahoo.com

Thanks for your help!

Posted by: Michele Mclellan | November 15, 2008

Children in Cambodia

My sister, Marjorie McLellan, posted some photos I’ve shot over the years in my home village in Cambodia. This is where the XO laptops will go. In the past, I’ve taken books, puzzles and assembly toys for the kids in the village. As you can see in some of the photos, they like them a lot!

Posted by: Michele Mclellan | November 15, 2008

Photo exchange

My sister just sent me this link to a program that helps children in the U.S. exchange photos with children in Ghana. What a great idea! I hope we get to try it with the children at Jump Start in Cambodia and Middletown, Ohio.

Posted by: Michele Mclellan | November 12, 2008

Two more laptops arrive!

Sonja Koenig has shipped me two more laptops, donating a total of three! Thanks Sonja. All three are with Ryan, the student worker at Jump Start. Ryan is updating their programming this week. Next week, I’ll be refreshing on some of the programs I can show the kids right away.

Last week I travelled to Miami on business. I took¬† my sister’s XO laptop along and talked with security at my departure airport, Dayton, to make sure they would not object to my carrying up to five laptops through. No problem, the supervisor said. Some of the security workers recognized the XO and some where excited to see one up close!

I am hoping the XO’s go on sale on Amazon.com next week so I can get my order in — two more, thanks to donations. Thanks everybody!

Posted by: Michele Mclellan | November 1, 2008

Laptop #1 (Yay!)

Our goal is to acquire five XO laptops to start a drop in center for kids in a village in Kien Svay district, Cambodia. Today, we got our first XO! An XO laptop arrived in the mail from Sonja Koenig of Chicago. It is one of three Sonja plans to donate to the effort. Meanwhile, we’re pretty close to having enough money to purchase at least two more when sales open on Amazon.com this month.

I’m charging the new XO right now and Ryan, the student worker at the local Jump Start has agreed to update the programs. We’re on our way!

Thanks Sonja, Linda and Hal Gerber, Ann McLellan, Sandy and Gerard Rowe for your generous help!

I will be heading to Cambodia Dec. 4.

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