April 15, 2010
Cambodian Threads has been progressing in a very positive way. Last week, Josh Smith, who is CT’s newest team member as Cambodian affairs coordinator, and I went to Prek Bongkong village on a research mission to develop a stronger relationship with the school administration and understand future aspirations. We arrived at the Heng home in time to eat lunch with the family. We had a leisurely discussion after feasting on grilled chicken, fresh vegetables, and mountains of white rice. As the noon sun peaked, we reclined in hammocks overlooking the Mekong River, sipped on coconuts, and gazed into the cloudless sky.
When the 1pm school bell rang, Naysim, Naychheng, Josh, and I made our way over to the Peah Takov School to meet with the principle and some teachers. It was interesting hearing some details about the school and community at large. I was able to talk at length with two teachers, a young lady named Srey Leak and a middling man named Sok Heang, who both spoke enough English to hold an interview. I wanted to know the inter-workings of the school so I asked dozens of questions and learned. They told me that in the school of 2920 students (1320 being female), each class holds about 50 students and only a third to a half of the students have notebooks and pens to work with; often, students share. When I asked how they felt as teachers in the rural area and if they get compensated appropriately, they told me that they felt proud to teach the rural children but the pay is very low, around $30-40 per month. They talked about their village and how it was so special. They both agreed that it was unique because of its beautiful simplicity, rolling rice fields and country agriculture copmpared with the hustle of the city. When we spoke about future aspirations and means to achieve such ends, Sok Heang, using basic English to convey a powerful point, spoke very seriously about the need for system reforms to end corruption and to spread enough money around to all of Cambodia, not just the hands of the crooked officials. He stressed the importance of education as a way to change social ignorance.
We ended our conversation by speaking of things that Cambodian Threads can do to help in a bigger way. Sreay Leak, who teaches both mathematics and English to sixth graders, gave a few suggestions for things that their school really needs: the number one thing was notebooks and pens, also world maps, globes, big rulers, calculators, cassette players, teaching supplies like chalk and administrative books, and a computer. I felt inspired to help. These school supplies that so many Westerners take for granted could change the course of many Cambodian school children’s lives. Cambodian Threads is committed to the future goal of providing these school supplies for Preah Takov School. It’s an ambitious future goal and we really need everyone’s help in regards to selling our scarves to get funding for this task, but we are excited to pursue it and feel as though we will succeed! So check out, purchase a hand- made silk scarf, tell your friends, and learn how you can help today!