Mae’s Dream: A Community Learning Center in Rural Cambodia
When we began our work in rural Cambodia, we met with many of the teens and young adults in the region to discuss their personal dreams for impacting the community. One of them, Mae, was a senior in high school at the time. She recently graduated and is now in her first year of college on a full LWB scholarship.
Mae is passionate about making a difference for the younger children in her village, many of whom live in immense poverty. She shared with us that she dreamed of creating a community center which would be a gathering space for all the children and youth to come together for positive and encouraging activities. Knowing that children in this region face many challenges, including unstable home lives, domestic violence, and pressure to drop out of school to work, we told Mae to come up with a plan we could discuss as a new LWB project.
We’re excited to announce that Mae’s dream has now become a reality. Thanks to the hard work of her and her friends, who spent countless hours painting, renovating, organizing, and ordering, we have now opened the first phase of the EASEL Community Learning Center, a public library filled with books for preschoolers to college students. We’re thrilled to have brought the first public library to Rangsei Village, and now every day children excitedly await the doors to open so they can meet up with their friends and choose their favorite books to read.
We’ve also purchased copies of the textbooks used in the local middle and high schools, so that children who can’t afford the book fees at school can have access to the same textbooks in our library for free. We want to break down every barrier in the way of children in this area receiving the education they deserve.
These remarkable teens and young adults haven’t stopped dreaming, however. Now they’re making plans for a hopeful phase two: a place in the center where music and dance lessons can be held, so that children in the region, regardless of family situation, can learn about and experience the arts.
As you can see, right now the music lessons sometimes happen inside the library – which of course is not ideal! Hopefully, the funds will soon be raised for this next room to be renovated and made into a dedicated music and dance space.
We are so proud of Mae and the other young people in Rangsei Village for working so hard to create such a warm and welcoming environment.
The library is now a wonderful resource for children, giving them a window to the larger world outside their village and all the wonder that books bring to it.