Rachana is 19 years old and lives with her subsistence farmer parents in a village two hours from Phnom Penh. She started working at an apparel factory this year after completing high school.
Rachana's dreams of becoming a teacher came to an end when she was forced turn down a scholarship to a top university. Her family could not afford the $100 per month living costs, and they needed Rachana to work to earn money to pay off the micro-finance loan they took out to send her older brother to university.
To us it seems a trivial sum, but to a family living in rural Cambodia, this is a hand up out of poverty. And this, a chance to change the course of someone's life - is immeasurable.
For this year we just need to raise $2,110 USD, and you can to come back and contribute more whenever you like!
My colleague Sokunthea and I met Rachana during an interview in a factory in Cambodia, outside of Phnom Penh.
She had been randomly selected from a factory of 3,000 workers to be interviewed about their daily lives. The interview took an emotional turn as we discussed education. Not being able to speak Khmer I had to wait what seemed like an age to hear the translation.
I was bowled over when I heard her story, and even more so when I realised how competitive the scholarships were. She was clearly very smart and determined but also now seemed resolute, that her fate was to be a factory worker.
What was so special about Rachana was that her parents understood the importance of education and had ambitions to put all their sons and daughters through university. Unfortunately as a subsistence farmer and daily wage labourer, Rachana's father had not been able to pay off the loans borrowed to send his elder son to college. Rachana gave up her education to work in a factory earning $150 a month to help her father repay the loan.
In over 150 factory wokrer interviews I had never come accross such a case, it was clear that we couldn't just leave her there, we were determined to do something. The day after the interview, we met with Rachana and her father, who drove two hours by motorbike from their home in Kandal province to meet us at the Royal University of Cambodia. After talking through her options with an understandably tearful father, we managed to secure a meeting with the Dean and discussed Rachana’s options. The school offered hold a place for Rachana, unfortunately the scholarship had been withdrawn so we would now need to find money for the fees too.
Rachana and her family would still like the chance to send her to University, and we want to make it happen - this year! Rachana is now enrolled to start studying English this November.
If, like me, you are struck by how close Rachana and her family came to achieving their ambition, only to be held back by $148 USD/month please contribute anything you can, and if you wish to do so monthly, that’s fine too!
$7,000 is all it takes to make a huge difference, not only to Rachana and her family, but also the inspiration she will bring as a teacher to the next generation of Cambodians.
Final loan repayment - $150
University starter kit - $360
Living costs - $4,800 ($100/month for 4 years)
University fees - $1,600 ($400/year)
Every single cent will go direct to Rachana, to buy her supplies or to the University to pay her fees - there are no administration costs as I will wire the money direct to her.
And we will keep the page updated with her progress.