Ary Village: A New School Program in Cambodia
2018 is just getting underway, but we already have wonderful news to share about our third and newest Believe in Me school in rural Cambodia, located in Ary Village.
What makes our Believe In Me Ary Village school a very exciting project is that it is in partnership with the local Department of Education. Several months ago, we learned about an old school building which had fallen into disrepair in a region hit hard by poverty.
This area has a similar demographic to both our Rangsei and Sokhem Village schools in that many of the children are “left behind” when their parents travel into Thailand searching for work. Malnutrition and illiteracy are sadly far too common.
As we did more research as to why so many children weren’t getting an education here, we discovered that in addition to the building being rundown, teachers weren’t willing to make it to school each day due to the difficulty of traveling on the dirt roads, especially during the rainy season.
Many of the children in this region had simply given up on ever going to school. We visited the building and found that while the main structure was in need of many repairs, it had lots of great space.
We surveyed the nearby villages and found that over 100 children are living in the region who could benefit from an LWB education program.
Filled with excitement for the possibilities, we quickly got to work. First, concrete work was needed to repair some of the crumbling walls and to make sure the building would last for years to come.
Then it was time for a new coat of paint both on the outside and inside of the building to give the children a bright and welcoming place to come learn. Finally, a new roof was put on to ensure that the inside stays nice and dry.
After a month of non-stop renovations, we think the new and improved school looks beautiful!
To help solve the teacher issue, we met with the Department of Education and agreed that the low teacher pay being offered in this region was insufficient to get qualified teachers out to this rural area, especially during monsoon season. To help solve this problem, LWB will pay a teacher bonus to ensure that quality teachers will be on-site each day. We also hired a local manager we know and trust to be at the school each day so that we can get accurate reporting on the children’s progress each month.
In addition, we’re excited that many of our MERCY teens in the region, who are wonderful mentors to the younger children, have added Ary Village to their weekend outreach. Every Saturday, a group of teens will do mentoring sessions at the school, incorporating creativity into the children’s lives through both music and art.
As soon as the building was finished, we opened up for enrollment. Seventy children have signed up for school! We are working hard to encourage the remaining children in the villages to give school another chance.
We purchased a large tuk-tuk to serve as the Ary Village school bus. Every morning and afternoon, our driver makes the rounds to three small villages in the area, picking up children to ensure there are no barriers to them making it to school each day.
Now that school is officially underway, we will keep you updated on the progress in Ary Village. For children like Henry, who is seven years old and being raised with his seven siblings by his elderly grandmother….being enrolled in first grade is a new and exciting adventure.
Thank you to everyone who believes in the power of education! We know incredible things are in store this year for our newest LWB students in Ary Village.