When you’re a child, it can be hard to achieve simple tasks, like going to school, when no one around you cares about your efforts. A good learning environment for children is more than a classroom, it involves the child’s home and community.
For Pov Sokum, age 17, trying to get an education in her Cambodian village didn’t seem important compared to her other responsibilities.
“Before, my family faced many problems,” said Pov Sokum. “We didn’t have enough food for our daily needs. My father carried vegetables for the shop owners early in the morning and also worked as construction worker to get income, as my family had no farmland.”
Pov Sokum, along with her parents, three brothers and two sisters, faced hunger every day. Her father wanted the children to focus on helping around the house, so he could look for work. He would ask them to do chores like search for firewood or carry water home, instead of going to school.
“I was poor in school,” said Pov Sokum. “I was in the lower half of my class each month among 45 children. I could not go to school regularly and no one encouraged me.”
Food for the Hungry (FH) staff started working in Pov Sokum’s village by introducing savings groups and other education opportunities for parents. Pov Sokum’s mother and other women learned to save money together and how to run small businesses.
These parents also learned about health, nutrition, how to garden and the importance of education for their children. “When FH/Cambodia staff started working in my community, I was introduced to FH’s vision, mission, and activities related to agriculture, health, education and saving,” said Pov Sukum’s mother.
“I hoped to get more knowledge and skill to improve my family’s life. My hope has come true. I get eggs from raising chickens and I grow vegetables by using new techniques I have learned. I have enough food for my family and some extra income to save in my savings group and to support my children’s study. Each year, I get $250 to $500, this is the biggest amount I have ever got. Now I am ready to buy wood to make a new house.”
Now in Grade 11, Pov Sukum’s life is looking very different. As her parents are prospering and she is encouraged to stay in school, she’s starting to have vision for herself and community.
“When I became a sponsored child, I was encouraged by FH/Cambodia staff to study harder,” said Pov Sukum. “Now I am a good student in my class, and I was asked to teach children in the community club during my free time. I want to see the children in my community become good leaders and serve the community unconditionally.”