During a trip to Cambodia in summer, 2016, we happened upon a village in the countryside of Siem Reap (land of Angkor Wat) that dramatically increased our understanding of how this country continues to struggle. Having learned that over half the Cambodian population was tortured and killed during the genocide of the Khmer Rouge era in the 1970s, we were stunned to learn that families are still severely affected from the results of those 'killing fields’ especially those living in the countryside. Children, in particular, have very few opportunities to rise out of the poverty of their villages, caused in large part by their country’s unfortunate history.
In the Siem Reap countryside, it is clear that one of the important ways out of poverty is to educate the children so that they can get jobs outside their villages and help their families and themselves. So, for one year we ran a small (very popular) English program for the children of Ou Tou Teng, a village with no electricity or running water.
To help these children in a more sustainable way, we have now decided to build a library in their local primary school -- a school attended by 300 children (including those from Ou Tou Teng) -- with very limited resources and very few books, impeding the chances for these children to gain the literacy needed to improve their education. Our library, to be opened this fall if we receive the funding needed, will help these students enormously!
The funds we raise will enable us to refurbish a schoolroom for use as a library (paint, new flooring, bookshelves, a desk, tables and chairs...), hire a Cambodian professional to run the library, purchase 500+ books in both Khmer (the students' home language) and English, with additional books as we raise more funds. In addition, we hope to use some of the funds to buy bicycles for those children who don't have them and, therefore, do not attend school.
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