University Entrance through a Tip School in Cambodia
It’s that time when things get a bit hectic in the lead up to the new school year in Australia! Some of the things whirling around in my mind: the logistics of having four primary school aged kids going to three different schools, buying iPads, wondering if my kindy kid who goes on alternate Wednesdays starts next Wednesday or not, being at home alone for the first time as an adult because my baby will be in kindy, wondering if I’m normal because I don’t feel sad in the slightest, and should I be concerned that I’m overflowing with joy because this day has almost arrived!? I’m sure a lot of mums have a lot on their mind at the moment and it can be stressful!
School in Cambodia
I’ve just come back from Cambodia to see the incredible work of World Vision in the field, and I can’t help but think about a school I visited while I was there. The school was located on a rubbish tip, and run by volunteers. It was run by Mr B, a local teacher and father of two, who was passionate about transforming his community. The classroom was actually Mr B's father-in-law’s house. There were many poor families in the area, drug addiction, violence, and yet somehow Mr B's school was the gateway for three young people to attend university so far!
One of the university students who was previously a pupil at Mr B's school, was now volunteering by teaching the kindergarten students how to read and write. It all came at a huge personal cost. Mr B's wife had to work at a local garment factory making clothes, and didn’t get paid much. She was frustrated because Mr B could be earning more money if he was getting paid to teach elsewhere, and then she wouldn’t have to work long hours and their family could have a better life.
I was lucky enough to visit the kindergarten class. I played some nursery rhymes like ‘ABC’ and ‘Twinkle Twinkle’, which the kids already knew and they sang along. They didn’t speak a word of English, but it was amazing how it didn’t matter that we couldn’t understand each other, because music is like a magical universal language that connects us all.
Hope for the Future
It’s easy for us to think, oh well, that’s just how it is in some countries. But we have to remember that only 40 years ago the Khmer Rouge literally targeted, tortured and killed teachers, and that over a million people died in the genocide! It is absolutely horrific that a secondary school was transformed in to a torture prison under the rule of Pol Pot, who was basically the Cambodian version of Hitler!
So the children in Cambodia today would have had grandparents that were killed, and consequently their parents would have suffered. So it is really inspiring to see young people going to university and finally replacing the teachers that were lost only 40 years ago. It was a privilege to meet the unsung heroes like Mr B who were willing to give up a prosperous life so that they could be an agent of change. And I can only imagine how proud he must’ve been to see the children he nurtured become teachers and nurture the next generation. There is hope for a better future for these precious children!
It costs around $500 per month to cover the costs of running the school. Mr B's school isn’t funded by any organisations, it is funded by donations from a handful of generous Australians. There was a shrine consisting of framed pictures of the supporters on the wall of the school. The Aussie World Vision supporters that I visited with were so inspired that some of us decided to sponsor Mr B's school for a month each.
After that experience, I’ll NEVER complain about anything to do with my kids’ education again. Yes things can always be improved. Your child may get a teacher they don’t like. You might not like the principal. You might be worried about the cost of private school fees. You might not be a morning person. The morning rush can be stressful. Working and school pickups can be a juggling act.
No matter how hard it seems, we are lucky. Our teachers are paid. Our school is not built on a rubbish dump. If our kids really want to work hard to go to university, they can through the public system. It’s not perfect, but on a global scale, the opportunities our kids have in Australia are incredible and I am just so grateful. So as we begin the new school year, please stop and take a moment to really appreciate it. The truth is that we are very blessed! If you'd like to make a difference in the world you can donate to World Vision HERE. I don't receive anything for endorsing World Vision, I've just supported this wonderful organisation since I was a child doing the 40 Hour Famine, and continue to support it to this day :)