With our regular newsletters, we aim to keep you posted on all the interesting and important news and updates of our programs and various activities. Enjoy reading!
Oct 26, 2010
Dear friends, This past week saw the flooding in Cambodia finally receding and highways open so that I could travel. A few weeks ago was the beginning of the new school year here in Cambodia. Like all things, education for the children is an education for all of us at Tabitha. When we started building schools in our communities several years ago, we were not aware of how few of our children actually attend school. For primary school children, about 20% attend at least two years of primary school – sometimes three in their lifetime – at secondary level this drops to less than 8%.
For me, it’s an awakening to another reality. I keep thinking what if I couldn’t read – something I take for granted – or I couldn’t do any math other than rudimentary forms – what would it be like if I didn’t know my name in letters – or I could never read what officials put out on in my community – simple directives like upcoming elections. What would life be really like?
Last week we traveled to a new school in Sen Jay that was just opened. The community had invited me to come and talk with them a year ago. The parents talked of how life had changed in their community with savings, wells and houses – and they now wanted a school for their children. I talked of how I expected all school age children to attend – regardless of school uniforms - I talked of how I expected the parents to support the teachers and their children in this process. Solemn promises were made and the process started. A donor was found and the 12 room school was built.
Getting to Sen Jay is always a bit of a travel nightmare – with the recent floods parts of the highway were still under water but we made it through – turning of the path towards the community we were met with mud – lots of it – and the end of the Tabitha vehicle. Last time I came the Tabitha vehicle was also stopped and we had traveled part of the way by caribao and the rest by rotor tiller and wagon. None was visible and I shuddered – walking is not my favorite pastime- walking in mud even less so- walking ten kilometers in heavy mud was not my idea of a good time. We were blessed this time as the commune chief had sent a 4 x 4 and driver and we slid and bounced our way to the school. It was worth every jolt.
Parents and children met us and we made a tour of the school. We had mandated that only 35 children should be allowed per classroom so that learning would be a bit easier. In Cambodia schools are used to the fullest capacity – two sets of students each day – one in the morning and one in the afternoon. I was bit dismayed to see 40 plus students in each room but what am I supposed to say. Last year only 20 kids attended school under one of Tabitha’s houses. I can read, write, do numbers and ever so much more – who am I to deny another child that opportunity?
We opened another school last week – in a village called Leap in Kompong Thom. Children there didn’t even know what a school was. For these children, school is a mystery and the squiggles they see on the blackboard something very alien. But they are excited – they like hearing about new things they have never heard of – simple things like letters and numbers – they are not yet used to holding a pencil or making the pencil do what it should. It’s very humbling to see a sixteen year old struggle to make sense out of it all.
This month – we are very blessed – we had 32,526 children attend school for the first time in their lives. I thank my God that this is so – I thank all of you for making it so. Happy reading to each of you.