Dear Friends and Partners,
In many parts of the world, children and students of all ages, sizes and nationalities are preparing to return to school. In Cambodia our long school break begins in September when children are needed at home to help with tilling the land and sowing the soil with rice – a staple of the Cambodian diet.
Cambodia is a developing country and children are an integral part of insuring that families have enough to eat throughout the year. For girls, there is an additional expectation – an expectation that her role in life is to marry and bear children – a social norm that determines much in a girl’s life. Education is not necessarily seen as a necessity for a young lady but rather a short-term luxury until she is married. An additional constraint to education for both sexes is the distance needed to be travelled to get to school – a constraint that prevents many children from attending school.
In Tabitha we have been very blessed and enabled to build 96 schools over the past few years.
People ask but what is school like for a young girl? Let me share Srie’s story.
Srie comes from a rural family of 3 boys and 2 girls. Her early life was very typical helping her family by taking care of the youngest, cooking and cleaning before she was five. Her family is involved in Tabitha savings and received a well from us several years ago. The village had no school and a donor generously donated funds for a six-room school. Life changed for the family and – as life improved – so did the chances of Srie going to school.
Like all 12-year-old girls, Srie enjoys being taught – learning new ways of thinking, learning how-to do math or read a book. She enjoys making friends and playing games at break time. She enjoys the small library where she reads about other children in other lands.
But the biggest change is that Srie dreams of an expanded future – she wants to be a teacher like her female teacher. She wants to be married and have children but she also wants to be able to teach other children what she has learned. It’s a big dream for high school and teacher’s college all costs money. Her family supports her dream for Srie is willing to live her value as a mum but also her value as a teacher. Srie continues to carry out her role as an obedient daughter.
Over the years, you who donated schools have enabled over 200,000 children receive a primary education – half of this number are girls, girls who are living their expected roles but who also have an expanded future. So many children are excited about going back to school next month – in Cambodia so many children are excited to go to school each day.
I thank my God for all of you who have stood with our children – I thank my God that I have received an education with an expanded view of life. How good is that!