I’m Rob and I am a teacher in Australia. I am also the author of the first draft of the book Jack the Giant.
My association with Tuk Tuk for Children started in 2015 after I received a message from a former Primary School student of mine named Adrian. We had become good friends over a long period of time and I knew he and some friends had started TT4C.
When Adrian said he was in need of a teacher to help I agreed to go to Cambodia and join him. Not really knowing what to expect I placed my trust in Adrian and traveled to Phnom Penh where he met me at the airport and took me to Pursat.
That is where my association started and it is still going after 5 trips to Pursat in 4 years and a continuation of ongoing support while I am home in Australia. It has been such a great experience and I always say that I am well rewarded with 1000 smiles a day.
As well as visiting the villages in the Tuk Tuk to deliver our program each day we worked on many things including helping teachers and providing materials for schools. One thing that was needed was books and often those that were donated were not really ones that the children could understand.
We talked about it and had the idea that perhaps we could write books ourselves. I thought about this and decided as a joke to write one about Adrian.
He is very tall, a white man (Barang), and drives a Tuk Tuk so he was recognized by most people in Pursat. He also has big feet and often if we went to a monastery and he took his shoes off someone would be wearing them when he came back out.
They would be laughing and having their photos taken so that idea needed to be in the book too. This funny story was popular with those who saw it and we thought perhaps it could really be used as a book for the kids.
As well we felt that this could provide an opportunity to deliver a message for the kids that strangers may not be scary and that sometimes stories get exaggerated and may not be true. So Jack the Tuk Tuk driver did not really eat kids and he really was a great man even though the stories may have said otherwise.
From this start, I continued to work with Mayu and the other volunteers and we wrote some other books. We hope that the characters of Jack, Ratana, Meakara, Katie and Sok will continue to deliver messages to the kids.
We have used topics that we felt would promote the ideas that the schools were trying to deliver to the kids like communicating, having fun, and valuing the learning opportunities that schools provide. As well we are trying to build their experiences of things both near and far.
We have even got some stories that school children in Australia have written for the Khmer kids that we may use one day.
The message remains clear- There is a great need in Cambodian schools for help and we all have something to offer. From a small start, big things can grow.