Our November 2022 Newsletter
Hello friends and supporters of The Cambodia Academy!
For the first time since 2019, a group of board members and donors joined together in Siem Reap and Mongkol Borei to celebrate The Cambodia Academy and help the students close out the 2022 school year. It was wonderful to see everyone in person! We had several local officials in attendance, including the district governor.
This year, we were delighted to welcome around 20 former students, including four of the original first graders who started in 2004 and attended grades 1-9 at the school and graduated in 2013.
The four original first graders were (left to right) KuyEng Lem, a high school English teacher; Buntek Chhan, a nurse; Chenla Saiman, vice principal at our school; and Chanrong Sok, an architect. The students gave a short presentation that explained what the school meant to them, thanked the board, and presented us with a gift of a fruit basket.
The board and visitors stayed overnight in Sisophon to treat the faculty and staff to dinner at local restaurant Bou Sophorn. The food was delicious, we enjoyed each other’s company, and there was even some karaoke involved.
On Friday, we returned to the campus at 7:00 a.m. to participate in exercise and yoga with the students. The ceremony and luncheon on Thursday is always a big and busy day, and it was a really nice bonus to go back to campus at a slower pace and spend more time talking informally with the students and teachers.
The visit to campus is always a fun and meaningful event, and we hope that many more of you can join us in 2023. We would love to host you and introduce you to the work of the school. For more on this, please see the next article written by Cassie Stockamp, one of our first-time visitors this year.
So how do you volunteer in a country that is one of the poorest in the world and do it well? Not to come to proselytize or push our “better” western ways onto the people, but to work along side of them? Can that be done well? I had stopped giving internationally as the need inside the U.S. feels so great…
My partner has been supporting a couple of students at a village school 2.5 hours northwest of Siem Reap, Cambodia and the board had organized a gathering and time to visit the school. He was quite keen on meeting the students and seeing how his donations were being used. I got to tag along - and was blown away(!) and as a result, my thoughts are changing on giving internationally.
The school was founded 18 years ago and has been financially supported and administratively run 100% by volunteers. A mere $150,000+/- annual budget provides 320 kids 10 months of schooling, uniforms, 2 meals a day (over 100,000 meals a year) and gives 40 teachers and support staff a living wage. Money can go so much farther here and my mind wonders if the impact isn’t even greater. Cambodia is one of the poorest nations in the world and some children end up in Thailand in the sex trade just to eke out a living. A sign at the school read “Education is Power.” They are starting to track the results of their students and are finding graduates are now architects, teachers, engineers. They have been lifted out of poverty!
The kids that this school supports are the poorest of the poor. Their parents can’t afford to send them to the local public school, so the appreciation, not only of the students but also the parents, was obvious and sincere. I have never seen such joyful students…
A $25-35 monthly sponsorship gives a child an education and can potentially lift an entire family out of poverty. If you are interested in helping, this is a worthy and legitimate cause.
Kitchen demolition begins
While at the annual school visit, the board was able to celebrate the groundbreaking of the new kitchen site. Soon after we left, the demolition crew got busy with the tear down of the old building on October 31. They made quick work of it after a few short days. We are working through some last-minute red tape on permits, which is always expected here in Cambodia. Richard will be back on campus on November 14th to kick things off and he will send photos as we progress.
Thank you again for your generous support of this important project. We can tell you from our recent visit that the students, teachers, and parents have a great deal of school pride, and they are extremely excited about what this new building will mean for the campus!
All graduating ninth graders pass their exit exams!
We’re happy to report that all of our graduating ninth graders passed their exit exams! We are very proud, and wish them all the best as most of them start a new chapter in high school. Best of luck, and know that you are always welcome back at The Cambodia Academy!