Real Results in Sokhem Village
Just over a year ago, LWB-Cambodia began working in remote Sokhem Village, near the border with Thailand. The rural communities of western Cambodia continue to face significant challenges decades after the tragic genocide by the Khmer Rouge. Extreme poverty is rampant, and human trafficking remains a critical issue.
The families in Sokhem Village struggle to get by, with most living without access to water or electricity. Many of the children have been “left behind” as their parents cross the border into Thailand searching for work.
We learned that the children of this village were at high risk of exploitation, as they had been unable to access education due to the cost of school fees, uniforms and books, and because it was unsafe to walk the long distance to the government school (over 10 km) due to the prevalence of child traffickers in the region.
When we first became involved in this area, only 8% of the over 100 children in the village were receiving any education. We immediately set a goal to change that, as clearly if the issue of poverty was ever going to be addressed, the children needed a safe way to attend school. Because of your support, our first Believe in Me school in Cambodia soon got underway in Sokhem Village.
Watching a schoolhouse being built was a pretty exciting adventure for the children here. Construction means dirt piles, and dirt piles are definitely a universal joy to children. We kept receiving updates from the construction site, and the children would walk over each day to see the progress being made.
We had hired local villagers to construct the school, but the children really wanted to take part as well. Our local team assured us it would be a great way for the children to feel an ownership in helping to create something wonderful in their village, so we let them chip in one weekend to help. They enthusiastically gathered rocks around the village to put as a base for the classroom floors. It was like the ultimate scavenger hunt!
Soon a beautiful new schoolhouse was in place, and classes for grades K-2 could officially begin!
One of the first things we did after school opened was to gather heights and weights on all of our students, since good health is such an important part of being able to concentrate and learn.
Sadly we quickly discovered that over 75% of the children were chronically malnourished, falling under 1% on the growth charts. So many of the children in this village have physical stunting, and lots had blonde hair which is a sign of a serious protein deficiency.
Goal two was quickly set to implement a daily hot lunch program for the children, and we soon learned that for many of the children, it would be their only real meal of the day. An LWB “kitchen house” was built next door to the school, and we hired several of the older women in the village to cook for the children each day.
In just one year, we’ve now served up over 15,000 hot lunches to the children, and we are seeing some significant weight gains in the kids. Isn’t that wonderful news?
We also were able to purchase a new tuk-tuk “school bus” for the village, which allows us to go further out into the jungle areas to pick up children and make sure they don’t miss school. Every day our driver makes the rounds to get children both to and from the village safely.
So can we have a drumroll please? We’re thrilled to report that now over 80% of the children in the village are enrolled in LWB education. 8 to 80 in just one year is a result we are cheering.
There is still so much more that we want to do for the beautiful children in this rural part of Cambodia, and we’d love for you to be a part of it! When you give to LWB during our year-end campaign, your donations will help children like Allie, Antonia, and Brandon receive essential food, education, and medical care. What they’re really receiving though is hope, for a better future for themselves and their families.
Your gift this season in any amount will be truly life-changing. Just look at what we’ve accomplished together in just one year. Stay tuned for more wonderful news from this western region of Cambodia!