Cambodia is a fascinating country, both because of the welcoming nature of Cambodians as well as its natural and cultural resources. However, the country is only just emerging from their tragedies of the late 20th century. In 1975 Pol Pot imposed an authoritarian Maoist regime, the Khmers Rouges. In 4 years 1.5 to 2 million people were tortured, murdered or killed from work or hunger. Wanting a ‘return to the land’, the regime destroyed all institutions and executed all of the well educated people. The invasion by Vietnam and the civil war which followed the Khmers Rouges completed the destruction of the country.
Today almost 20% of the population lives below the poverty line. The children of the Khmers Rouges regime are working hard to instil standards and moral values in the new generation. Led by King Norodom Sihamoni (constitutional monarchy), Cambodia is counting on the younger population to reform the country. A third of the population is under 15 years old. Although it is in a bad state, the school system is improving. Little by little, the smiles of the Khmers have replaced the mines. Even though many challenges remain, a more peaceful future now seems possible.
Srey Nary is a 10-year-old girl, studying in Grade 2. She is in the middle of the class, but this is understandable as she does not have enough money to access the extra courses (to be paid for, and it is necessary to get the whole programme).
The Cambodian education system leaves much to be desired. It was completely destroyed by the Khmers Rouges (schools closed, teachers murdered, etc.). Estimates indicate a record level of illiteracy. Unfortunately, today only 30-40% of Cambodians are able to read.
Her family situation is very difficult. Her mother is an itinerant trader, she sells small fried banana fritters and earns about $1 to $2 a day. The father worked all over the country as a goldsmith. He was a good craftsman who earned about $25 a day. Due to a lack of means and precautions, he did not protect his eyes during all these years, and received, without really realising it, many micro-projections of acid in his eyes, through his work, until he lost his sight completely. Today he uses an eye product that relieves him, but the doctors have made it clear that he will never regain his sight. He is therefore unable to work.
Srey Nary goes to school by bicycle, and therefore needs help to attend extra classes, and to relieve her family with a few extra kilos of rice.
Child sponsorship enables children like Pin Srey Nary to continue their studies for as long as possible. Schooling a child entails a large cost for a family (supplementary classes, uniform, school materials…).
Child sponsorship not only allows her to be educated in her home country but also goes towards her food, clothes and care. Often the price of one sponsorship is enough to help an entire family and even send other brothers and sisters in the family to school.
On Saturday 28 November 2020, they moved into a small house on stilts, built with state aid. They used to live on the land opposite, in an uncle's house
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