Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Passion of the Amelios

I visited one of the Amelio schools in Siem Reap a while back, so I was interested to see this article on the newswires. As an aside, I also have a Lenovo lap-top!

CEO of Chinese-owned Lenovo computer company founds the Caring for Cambodia charity
- by Roland Lim, The Business Times (Singapore)

While Lenovo CEO Bill Amelio's passion for making the China computer manufacturer a household brand can be seen from the way he is driving his company's growth, another mission is perhaps not as public. 'One of the passions which my wife Jamie and I have is this charity that we founded called Caring for Cambodia,' Mr Amelio revealed. Caring for Cambodia is a non-profit charity organisation in Cambodia. One of its key focuses is providing education to the local children.

'We started with one school and now we've got four schools and a teacher training centre,' he said. 'We've also put in the first two kindergartens in Cambodia and it's proven to be a big hit.' According to the organisation's website, 2,952 students are currently attending its schools, while some 75 Cambodian teachers have been given professional training. 'Jamie and I both were born with modest means, so we try to do our part giving back to the world as best as we can,' explained Mr Amelio. But why Cambodia? 'What we liked about Cambodia was that it was a place where you could see tangible progress and you can really get involved at the grassroots.' Not surprisingly, the Amelios go to Cambodia quite frequently. 'I go over once a quarter, but my wife's there once or twice a month and she probably spends 40 to 60 hours a week there with the kids, so for her, this is almost a full-time job.' Mr Amelio also obviously likes children, revealing that he has six of his own, including two Cambodian girls who he says 'I'm really a guardian of'.
Link: www.caringforcambodia.org.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

As a former volunteer for Caring for Cambodia I feel I must speak out about the truth about this organization as everything at the schools is not as it is portrayed by it’s board members in the Media.

I worked for Caring for Cambodia in Siem Reap Cambodia from 10/1/05 to 01/30/06 as a volunteer English / Computer teacher. At the same time I was working for Caring for Cambodia at the schools there were two other volunteers, one by the name of Wendy from the United States and Julia from the Netherlands.

When I originally arrived I was warned by Wendy that there were some very serious problems at the school and not everything was as described.

· Caring for Cambodian paid Cambodian Teachers did not show up for class to teach on a regular basis.

· When the teachers did show up there was very little being taught as they would just allow the children to draw with paper and pencil instead of teaching them.

· There was a desperate need for a curriculum and Wendy had sent numerous emails to Jamie requesting this and received no response from Jamie.

· Wendy sent numerous emails to Jamie regarding corruption at the school and what appeared to be money and resources of the school being spent on non school items.

I didn’t want to believe what Wendy was telling me and promised that I had spoken to Jamie before coming and just could not imagine that Jamie knew all of this was going on.

The sad part is I was wrong.

Jamie and Bill Amelio are tremendous caring human beings that have a wonderful vision

But a their Vision is not the reality at the school. They are to be commended for all they do for Caring for Cambodia except for one thing. Jamie does not listen to her volunteers such as Wendy, Julia and me about the issues above.

Creating a charity and building schools is great but it does not complete the goal / mission of educating children. It simply provides an opportunity for education but if teachers do not show up for class to teach with a qualified curriculum then the substance of the mission is not being achieved.

· I went to Cambodia and worked for 4 months for the school.

· I took the computers that were in a corner covered in dust and bought a Cisco Network Switch and put them all on the network.

· I had grounded electricity run inside the computer room and hooked all the computers up to grounded power.

· I reconfigured them and set them up in a row and loaded RosettaStone on the computers.

· I started teaching English and Computers from 4:00pm – 7:30pm everyday for 3 months.

· My students loved the program and were required to sweep and mop the computer room everyday before starting so that the dirt in the computer room did not ruin the computers.

· I began documenting the mission of the school in HD from a camera Jamie bought to do so.

· I soon recognized the problems that Wendy pointed out to me were true and spoke to Ung Savy the director to try and correct them but he didn’t want to hear about it.

· I offered to fund teachers to help teach English and math at the school to which he finally agreed and when I presented them to him he tried to get them to give him half of their salary to work their. I know this because one of them revealed this to me during the meeting when I was presenting them to Ung Savy.

· Ung Savy got angry and decided not to hire any of the teachers and left the room.

· I began documenting the corruption at the school both in HD and in Photographs, of which I still have the tapes and the photographs that document the classrooms with students in the rooms but no teachers, students drawing on notepads with the teacher reading the newspaper, and teachers moving the computers from computer room to the library so the teachers could work on their home work from the college they were attending.

I have emails from her to me and me to her that document everything I am saying. I have emails from Jamie acknowledging that she knows things are not all as they are supposed to be but that this is Cambodia and a certain amount of corruption is to be expected. I have emails from here telling me she is my biggest fan and then the next email fires me.

When I confronted her with the problems I witnessed first hand and the other issues other Volunteers had sent her she did respond to improve the situation but instead decided to cancel all volunteers from working at the school outside of her yearly trips to the school.

I am very sorry to say that the Caring for Cambodia foundation and it’s board members are bordering on fraud when they take donations from people to build schools and teach children.

They build the schools and build homes but are not responsibly making sure the children are getting the education the donations were supposed to pay for.

There needs to be some accountability on this and the fact is there is no accountability and the children are being used to raise money for an education they are not receiving. I know because I witnessed this first hand and documented it on HD video and in photography.

The children of the Caring for Cambodia schools are being robbed of the education that has been paid for, but they are not receiving, and if they attended other schools they might actually get an education.

I am working on a documentary to appear within the year in a film festival that documents all of this.