Fashion Design and Carpentry at Little Hearts

One of the projects our kids undertook during their school break was making new Little Hearts T-shirts. Rather than having a design printed on the T-shirts, the kids decided to paint them by hand. The design they chose included a Little Hearts logo on the left sleeve, their name on the right sleeve, and an outline of Phnom Penh’s Independence Monument on the front – a small reminder of their Cambodian heritage.

As soon as the plain grey T-shirts were delivered, we started to work on them. From youngest to oldest, all the kids set about painting their T-shirts, with the senior-most kids helping the smaller children with this ambitious project. They painted the Little Hearts logo by hand, traced the shape of the Independence Monument using stencils, and wrote their names in a font of their choice, ranging from a stylish cursive hand to block letters. The whole project took several days to finish, and now we all have matching original T-shirts with our own brand!

Not content with this exercise in DIY fashion design, we also took up carpentry during the school break. It was Sarem, during a brainstorming session with Roxanne, who came up with the idea to build new bookshelves so that the kids could store their English textbooks, exercise books and dictionaries directly in the language classrooms (and thus not misplace them all the time).

Roxanne agreed and asked him to draft a plan for the project. After three weeks, he delivered not only a plan (which included the design and measurements, as well as an estimated budget for materials) but also a prototype. Roxanne got the project approved by Tony during the Pchum Ben holiday, and once the kids were free of their school obligations and had completed their final exams, the work began.

Sarem assembled all the kids and explained the project to them, and it was agreed to build two sets of shelves for the Level 2 and 3 classrooms (Level 1 already has a storage solution for classroom materials). The kids were divided into two teams headed by Sarem and Michael and developed two different designs, one that consisted of clustered hexagonal cubbyholes (a bit like a beehive) for Level 2, and the other patterned like a flower with a wall clock in the middle for the Level 3 classroom.

It took three weeks to complete the project, from the purchase of materials to the installation of the shelves in the classrooms. It involved many steps, such as measuring and sawing the wood planks to size, polishing the panels with sandpaper, staining and varnishing them, and finally attaching them to the walls.

Of course, we couldn’t have done it without Billy’s help. He helped and guided us through the most difficult steps, especially measuring the pieces of wood accurately and operating the circular electric saw. Billy, who loves home improvement projects, enjoyed himself immensely!

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