Stories of Hope: Perry
In countries all over the world, people live and work at local landfills, picking through mounds of rotten waste and broken glass to search for recyclables. It’s grueling work, yet each day the families comb through the garbage, gathering plastic they can exchange for a small amount of cash.
It was at a landfill in western Cambodia that we first met little Perry.
This tiny baby was struggling to gain weight and had already been ill several times. We were very concerned about his development as many of the other children who lived at the landfill showed clear signs of stunting and malnutrition.
Our team immediately arranged for some essential baby supplies for Perry, including high-quality formula each month as his mom was unable to breastfeed.
We visited Perry regularly, closely tracking his height and weight each month to make sure he made progress with his development.
By the time he began taking his first steps, it was clear he was developing into a strong and energetic little boy who was curious about his surroundings.
For many families who work as trash pickers, education for their children is not a high priority. Instead, they rely on their children working alongside them since every bit of plastic gathered equates to more cash for their daily needs.
Our director in Cambodia was on a mission to help change that way of thinking. He continually counsels the parents at the landfill that education is the only way their children will ever escape poverty.
In 2017, we began enrolling kids from the landfill into our Believe in Me school program. Each morning, the LWB tuk-tuk makes the journey out to the dumpsite to pick up any child who wants a chance to learn.
That first year, many families were still not convinced it would make a difference in their lives, and only a handful of children signed up to enroll. But Leng patiently continued his visits to the landfill. He returned each month to bring extra nutrition to Perry and his friends while always speaking to the families about the real hope that arises from a child having the chance to go to school.
Perry’s mom was listening closely to Leng during his visits. When her son reached the age to enroll this year, she gave permission for him to climb aboard our tuk-tuk to head to his first day of preschool at our Sokhem Early Childhood Development Center.
Don’t let Perry’s solemn “new uniform” photo fool you…
To say he had a marvelous first day would be an understatement!
Perry LOVES preschool. He adores the playground, the toys, and writing his letters on the whiteboard. He’s also made a wonderful set of new friends who enjoy his outgoing personality.
We’re beyond grateful to everyone who makes our early childhood programs possible. For children like Perry who live in hard places, these programs are a true investment in their future. He’s not only learning his letters and colors but is also gaining important social skills like sharing and taking turns.
Perry’s mom says that each day when he returns, he can’t wait to tell her everything he did in class. There’s so much excitement in their home with all the new experiences this wonderful little boy gets to have at school. With a shy smile, she tells our team, “I feel so proud.”
For Perry and the 33 other children at the landfill who are now part of our education programs, we can’t stop thinking of the famous Shel Silverstein poem in “Where the Sidewalk Ends.”
Listen to the MUSTN’TS, child,
Listen to the DON’TS
Listen to the SHOULDN’TS
The IMPOSSIBLES, the WON’TS
Listen to the NEVER HAVES
Then listen close to me—
Anything can happen, child,
ANYTHING can be.
Want to help other children like Perry have access to education in the coming year? Make a donation to our Power of Hope campaign, and let the gift of learning begin!