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Great Leap Forward

CAMBODIA | Tuesday, 21 October 2008 | Views [825]

for CCPP the past few days. A batch of about 30 kids have been sent to the local junior school. This is a BIG deal for the kids – it presents them a chance of a lifetime to receive an education and hopefully escape the poverty cycle.

Most of the CCPP kids, some reaching the age of 14, have NEVER been to school in their lives. Local state schools are not expensive but many families in S’ville live on a subsistence level. Some of the children have lost one or both parents, are abused or neglected by them and almost all live in extreme poverty without electricity, clean water and food. If you were here and could see for yourself how these children survive by selling bracelets and fruits or picking cans, you would understand the urgent need to provide them with a safe and supportive environment. What CCPP is trying to do is to work with this group of children and provide them with the means to make some basic income through the sale of their paintings as well as free medical care, lunch and education. Instead of peddling on the beach, they can develop their imagination through painting and simply be kids, through games and interaction. Through donations and help of volunteers, CCPP has been fortunate enough to acquire school uniforms, bags and stationery for this bunch of kids and send them to school.

I was very lucky to witness all this. Last Friday was a big day for the kids and the staff as for the first time the children tried on their uniforms and were each given a (second-hand) school bag and brand new stationery. I was helping the children change into their uniforms and the look on their faces was just… priceless. Sheer joy and excitement written on these young faces, and you can tell how they’ve been waiting for this day for a long long time. I couldn’t understand what they were saying in Khmer but just looking at them beaming I could feel their appreciation and elation. I’ve only been here for 2 weeks but having daily interactions with them and knowing about their backgrounds from the staff, I actually felt teary-eyed watching them in their crisp white and blue uniforms waiting to take their group photo.

Monday was the 1st day of school for the CCPP kids and they all gathered before 7am at the centre dressed in their school gear. Having caught less than 4 hours of sleep, I had to get out of bed; I didn’t wanna miss the chance to send them to school. The entire bunch managed to squeeze into 2 tuk tuks and off they went to school. There they were then divided into 2 groups and joined in 2 of the Grade 1 classes. There was none of that silly nonsense back home where Primary 1 kids cry and refuse to enter the classrooms. These kids couldn’t wait! It was such a sight seeing them seated at their desks, eagerly taking out their exercise books and wasting no time in filling those pages.

They’ve come such a long way and it’s been such an achievement for CCPP to put these children in school. Now we just hope that they carry on with it and work really hard. It is a small step but a great leap forward towards a better future for them.

Tags: kids, thoughts

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