Launch events for the Anjali House Creative Writing Workshops and magazine.

Friday evening saw the second, and final event to promote the establishment of the Anjali House Creative Writing Program.

The program which is the result of the collaboration of London-based novelist Sue Guiney and Cambodian-American Boris Van, began 2 weeks ago with week long workshops held at Anjali House, led by Sue, with the help of the Head of our Young Adult Program Richard de Groot, and Oxford-based supporter Catherine Vaughn-Williams.

The workshops saw students work on both collective and individual poems and short stories which were collated, along with the students photography to produce a beautiful and intimate magazine.  To promote the workshops and the on-going Creative Writing Program, two launch events were held.  Friday 12th March saw a Siem Reap based evening hosted at the Butterflies Garden with the kind support of owner, Susan Hagadoorn. Complementary wine was served courtesy of Celliers d'Asie. During the evening Sue Guiney read extracts of her new novel set in Cambodia and introduced the writing workshops, students that particpated were given the opportunity to read extracts from their poems and short stories to assembled guests and supporters, with free copies of the magazine available to take away. Copies of Sue's novel and the Anjali photobook were available to buy on the night with raised funds going towards the Anjali House literacy program.

IMG_0267Friday 18th March saw a twin event in Phnom Penh, hosted at the prestigious Van's restaurant, kindly sponsored by the Van's family. Four lucky students from Anjali House were given the opportunity to travel to Phnom Penh to present their work to a distinguished guest list, inlcuding Ambassador Roland Eng and members of the Royal family including HRH Princess Norodom Bopha Devi. Boris Van introduced the event to assembled guests, setting out his long standing support and on-going commitment to Anjali House, Sue Guiney then talked about the workshops, the children and read from her own novel, then passing the stage on to Richard de Groot and the students for them to present their own work to the assembled guests. The evening was a fantastic success and the highlight for the students was no doubt meeting HRH Princess Bopha Devi, who kindly spoke with each student about their work and success. Despite nerves, the students presented their work with a calm and professionalism that was commented on by a number of guests and the overall quality of the writing is a testiment to the students development and growth at Anjali House and the skill and experience of Sue Guiney.

The workshops will now continue through the form of an online blog established by Sue, which all the students have access to and is also being supported by 4 other UK based authors. Students will have the opportunity to post stories, poems and other writings online to be assisted and guided by the writers before final publication.

The wonderful aspect of the writing course has been giving students the skills and tools to use language to present their feelings, thoughts, hopes and dreams to people in a way that has not been possible before. The writings were filled with a tremendous power and feeling which coupled with the students own images from photography workshops created a truly compelling magazine.

Sue Guiney will continue to work with the children throughout the year with the aim of producing further copies of the magazine and is planning a longer trip to Cambodia next March for further workshops.

A full pdf of the children's magazine "Wonderful Writing - Imagination is the best power! is available for free download by clicking this link.

You can read about Sue Guiney's experiences in Cambodia and the workshops on her blog here, as well as the Phnom Penh Posts coverage here. Plus, Andy Brouwer, guest and Cambodian blogger extraordinaire, has his own take on the evening here.

A video of the Phnom Penh event is available here.