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Last time you were here, you were looking to help vulnerable children and families. Your support can save and change lives.

Girls need the opportunity to go to school and learn, yet about 130 million girls today are still denied an education.

Twelve-year-old Chenda* (pictured above and below) from Cambodia was in Grade 2 when she learned that her family couldn’t afford to keep her in school.

Her parents went to neighbouring Thailand in search of work, and Chenda went to live with her grandfather.

Instead of going to school, Chenda started to do chores at home instead to pass the time. “I wanted to go to school like other children,” Chenda said. “After doing housework, I had nothing to do. I was unhappy.”

There are millions of girls around the world who face barriers keeping them from school, such as poverty, a lack of hygiene facilities, and sometimes harmful views about gender.

Chenda wanted to stay in school, but her parents couldn’t afford books, uniforms, or transport to get her there and back.

“I wanted to go to school like other children.”

Chenda, 12, Cambodia.

While Chenda’s mum went looking for a job to bring more income to the family, Chenda helped her grandfather at home, missing her opportunity to learn and play at school.

“I helped my grandfather with the housework, cooking and chopping firewood,” Chenda said.

Chenda’s grandfather loves his granddaughter and wants the best for her. He liked Chenda assisting him at home with chores but he knew this wasn’t as important as her returning to school.

Girls who are not in school are more likely to remain in poverty. They are also at a greater risk of sexual exploitation, forced or early marriage, and gender-based violence. The impacts of the pandemic, climate change and economic instability on developing communities has increased the number of girls leaving school early, or not attending at all.

How you can help

ChildFund’s partner on the ground in Cambodia supported Chenda with learning materials and helped her return to school.

“I now have a school bag, pen, writing book, pencil, shoes, and school uniform,” Chenda said. “I was very happy the day my grandfather told me the teacher had asked him to send me back.”

A donation to our girls’ education appeal can help get girls like Chenda get back to school, give local teachers training and support, and help improve classrooms and build school playgrounds and toilets.

Chenda returned to a better school. “The school had changed,” she said. “There was a playground, a library with many books, a football court, and a bicycle parking space.”

With your help today, more girls like Chenda will get the chance to be excited about their school days – and their futures.

Chenda’s grandfather (pictured below) is proud of Chenda. He has lived in poverty for all his life, and wants things to be different for the next generation. “I worked hard to raise my children on my own, lugging soil and fetching fish,” he said. “I only made enough money just to survive each day. Chenda works extremely hard at school. I don’t want her to be illiterate like I was. I want her to keep learning.”

Chenda shares her aspirations: “When I grow up, I want to be a brave and strong person. I don’t want to ever look down on anyone because everyone is different.”

“Chenda works extremely hard at school,” Chenda’s grandfather said. “I don’t want her to be illiterate like I was. I want her to keep learning.”

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.