CCAHA needs funds to keep children in schools
Organized by: Phalla Chheang
I am Chheang Phalla, and I am responsible for the Cambodian Child And Hope Association.
My family comes from the Siem Reap area, but during the Khmer Rouge regime in the 1975’ies, they were forced to move to the Takeo province in the south of Cambodia.I was born there in 1984.
Later we were able to move back. I live here today with my family. There are 9 of us altogether.
But not all of my family survived the Khmer Rouge regime. My uncle and older aunt disappeared. We searched for them for years, but in vain. They had become victims of a terrible time in a sad part of Cambodia’s history.
Like many other children in the villages, I did not go to school.
Because there was no school. No teachers. Nothing.
So when I was 13 years old, my parents sent me to the Preahdak Pagoda.
Preahdak is the village were we live; it’s about 15 kilometres outside Siem Reap Town.
There I worked as a temple boy, helping the monks in their daily duties, hoping to become a monk myself. In return the monks taught me to read and write in Khmer - our language – as well as mathematics and English.
In 2005 a family school ??? was established in the Preahdak village, and besides being a novice monk, I started there as a volunteer.
In 2007 my novice period was over and I became an ordained monk at the Preahdak Pagoda.
As a Buddhist monk I walk the villages every morning with MY bowls, collecting alms in the form of food. It is a way for people to show humility and respect to the monks.
On my visits to these villages, I experienced that many children did not go to school.
I talked with them and found out that most of the children were out of very poor families who were not able to send their children to school. They would have to provide them with a school uniform, pen and notebook, and to pay the yearly school fee. Besides, the poor families need their children to help in the rice fields, still another reason for not sending them to school.
Other children I met were orphans whose survival were totally dependent on the mercy of the villagers.
Obviously, these children only have very limited chances in life, and they are at great risk of getting into prostitution or getting problems with drugs.
A sad story in itself
I decided to help these children and invited them to the schoolwhere a room was made available by for the teaching.
At that time I had nothing to support the education but an empty room. No books, no pens or paper for the children to write on. If tourists came by, I beg them for help to buy materials. I want to thank these tourists warmly because it enabled me to get started.
Soon they heard about my project in other villages, and I was asked if I could help them establish more schools.
One by one people from the villages came to me. I helped them the best I could. The villagers worked together and built simple, open bamboo huts where more children could learn to read and write and I asked young people, who had gone to primary school, to teach.
But I needed much more time for the project
I so deeply felt the importance of helping these children.
The prior gave me his blessing and also told me that I could continue using rooms to teach the children.
I was very grateful being able to work full time.
In this way CCAHA, the Cambodian Child And Hope Association, was created.
Today we have 5 schools with more than 700 children.
We hope that by teaching them to read and write Khmer as well as some English, these children get a better chance in life.
But the truth is that constantly we are under severe pressure financially; my teachers cannot continue to work as volunteers, and we need money for books,pens whiteboard ,marker .etc and more.
The poverty in the villages is endless; there is by no means any possibility that the villagers can send their children to the public school.
We strongly feel that we can make a change to the better.
The fact that we can move these children out of illiteracy, gives them a much stronger chance to get a life with a good meaning.
In order for that to happen we need books and other educational material.
We need funds to support salaries for the teachers.
Supporting us, is not only supporting more than700 children, but also supporting Cambodia to recover after the fatal years of Khmer Rouge.
I am sending you my warmest thoughts,
and should you consider helping us
I will be forever grateful
Cambodian Child and Hope Association