Today we visited our New life of Hope project that reaches 4 different villages. This was the most humbling project to see because the need is even greater. At our first stop, Phany asked how many students ate breakfast that morning and only a few raised their hands. Here they sat ready to study all morning on empty bellies. They will get 2 meals a day on average. At the next stop, Phany asked how many had gone to Thailand to work. Several of the older students and I’m talking 10-12 year olds, raised their hands. They would work long hard days on Thai farms for a season and then come back to Cambodia. The fact that these children came back at all is a miracle. Each stop showed us the great need they have for even a small opportunity to create change in their lives.
Phany asked me to speak with each group of students and I was able to encourage them to make their minds strong and take advantage of any opportunity to learn and make a better future. I also thanked the teachers for doing their jobs. I explained that American teachers are also paid poorly and teach because they love children. I explained what an important responsibility it is to train a child and thanked them for doing such important work.
It’s hard not to get overwhelmed when the need far out weighs what it seems we are doing to help. But education takes years and it’s the first inroad to working in these villages. I look forward to our next visit to this village to see the impact of another 6 months and another year. Will I see the same teachers training up the children or will they have gone to Thailand to work? Will I see more children staying to learn instead of going to Thailand? I hope yes but even if we only save one from a life of slavery – it is worth the effort!