Stories: Children, Communities, Futures

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For many children in Cambodia, their sixth birthday signifies the exciting day that they get to go to school. But 13-year-old Sobine didn’t start school until the age of 10. Despite a late start to his education, Sobine is determined to finish high school.

“My family was very poor, and I had no idea how I would be able to send Sobine to school. We live in poverty and there was a lot of violence in our home,” said Sobine’s mother, Sophors.

When Sobine and his mother moved in with their stepfather, a construction worker, he was enrolled in the nearest primary school. But he struggled to keep up with reading and writing.

“I couldn’t read very well in the second grade. Since I’m older than my classmates, they could read but I couldn’t, and this stressed me out. I didn’t like myself because I couldn’t achieve as much as the others.”

ChildFund Cambodia’s ‘Easy to Learn’ program makes sure that every child can access a quality education. The program runs activities that give teachers the skills to support children who are falling behind in literacy and numeracy. It also renovates libraries and provides tablets that have a digital library of age-appropriate books.

The goal of the project is to improve the literacy and numeracy skills of primary school children and to develop a peer tutoring program so children can help their peers who may be falling behind.

The project provides school uniforms and other school supplies like bags, books, and pencils to other children in need, so that they can complete a primary school education. As a mother, Sophors is delighted that programs like this have been able to contribute to her son’s education.

“I am really pleased that he has been able to move his study further. Even though I am limited in what I can provide, I want all my children to be literate so they can have rewarding careers in the future. I don’t want them to be as impoverished as I am,” she said.

“I’m so happy that I can read better now. My teachers and classmates gave me a lot of support. They helped me to memorise the alphabet and symbols. I also enjoy using the apps and reading toolkits to help me learn the letters,” said Sobine. “When I grow up, I don’t want to work in a restaurant like my older brother. I want to work in an office building.”

Learn more about how ChildFund Cambodia is working with local communities and partners to make sure that children living with hearing impairment and other disabilities can access an education and have a chance at a brighter future.

This World Bicycle Day on 3 June we are celebrating the great benefits that a two-wheeler can bring children living in poverty.

Fourteen-year-old Prasak (pictured above) came across many dangers on his walk to school, but a deadly snake was one of the scariest.

“I saw a cobra moving on the road and it started following me,” Prasak says. “I ran away quickly.”

Prasak took a different path the next day. It was longer route and he was almost late to class.

Getting to school isn’t easyfor Prasak, who lives in a rural community in Battambang Province, in far northwest Cambodia. It takes him an hour to walk to school, and for most of the year it’s a long trek through sweltering heat. Prasak often arrives to class, exhausted. With the all the surrounding farmland and wilderness in his community, there is also a higher chance of encountering dangerous wildlife.

Prasak and many other children living in remote and rural communities risk abandoning their education because of the long distances they must walk to school, and the potential dangers they face along the way. A lack of transport means some families decide it is safer for their children to stay home.

New wheels: Prasak, age 14, has a new bike and helmet from ChildFund Cambodia that’s helping him to get to school safer and faster. “I’m happy to have the bike because I’m not late to school anymore and I’m not exhausted from walking,” he said.

Prasak’s parents work in construction, but it has been difficult for them to find long-term, stable jobs in Cambodia. Prasak and his family migrated to Thailand for three years to find work. During this time Prasak was not able to go to school and fell behind in his learning.

Today, Prasak and his family are back in Cambodia and Prasak is finishing Grade 3.

ChildFund Cambodia is supporting Prasak with a bicycle and helmet so he can travel to school safer and faster, as well as uniforms and school supplies. “I’m happy to have the bike because I’m not late to school anymore and I’m not exhausted from walking,” he said. He is also less afraid of being attacked by snakes on the road.  

Happier days: After missing out of an education for many years, Prasak (pictured above, in the middle, with his friends) is back studying and determined to finish high school. “I want to have a better job and a better future than my parents,” Prasak said.

Prasak is also attending a peer educator program supported by ChildFund, where senior students help him to read and write, and work through numeracy problems. He is determined to do well in his studies and finish high school.

“I want to have a better job and a better future than my parents,” Prasak said.

If you’re inspired by Prasak’s story and would like to be a part of creating a better world for children, here are three simple ways your donation can make a difference this World Bicycle Day:

  • Bicycle and helmet: Your donation could help aspiring students get to class safely and stay in school, spending more time studying and not travelling.
  • School supplies: Your gift gives a student the essential items they need for a successful year of learning, along with a backpack to carry them in.
  • Bright future bundle: Every child dreams of a brighter future. The bundle includes a scholarship, a bicycle and school supplies for a student.