Happy Chandara is a Cambodian school for girls from disadvantaged families around Phnom Penh, created by the French NGO “Toutes à l’école”. I have done orienteering for more than 15 years, and I’m the godmother, since I became a PE teacher, of three girls of this school. I came to Cambodia as a volunteer for 5 months in February to give sports lessons and to organise sport events for the girls.
May 24th is the World Orienteering Day, the perfect opportunity to organise an orienteering event for the girls! Knowing that this sport doesn’t exist in Cambodia, so no one knows what orienteering is!
For the equipment, I contacted Frédéric Deltombe of Airxtrem (Noname seller in France) who offered to the school about forty controls and punches as well as hundreds of “control papers”. For weeks, we try to find a solution with SportIdent to have boxes and SI-cards but no carrier accepted to transport batteries, then the race will be done in the old way! The first weeks, I drew the map of the secondary school and high school. Then, I initiated at orienteering the high school girls and the girls of the boarding school in which I stay every weekend.
The idea of the event was clear: the boarding girls will help me to organise the race, which will be open to students from grade 4 (10 years old) to grade 11 (ages 17 to 20). I described the different roles in the organisation and each volunteer girl choose what interests her (give “control papers”, give the maps, record the time of arrival, etc.). The last two weeks before the race were busy: registration of pupils, drawing of circuits, printing the maps, lamination, printing the diplomas, preparation of badges and explanations for the pupils, explanation of the different roles, installation of the labyrinth, interview with apprentice journalists.
Unable to make the event on May 24, we organised it in advance on May the 20th. From 2 pm to 4 pm we held a competition for high school students who had had orienteering lessons, and from 4 pm to 6 pm there was an introduction for volunteer students from 4th to 8th grade as well as the staff, the interns and the children around the school with high school students as teachers.
D-Day: the organisation was based on 11 girls from the boarding school, divided between the secondary and the high school in four teams (departure, finish, security, press) each one supervised by an adult volunteer.
– More than 400 students from 8 to 15 years old and staff
– 190 high school students (16 to 20 years)
It was a hard but amazing day!
//Magalie Cordeiro Mendes