Cambodia

RETHINKING EDUCATION

9-year-old Dara often misses state school because his mother, a garment factory worker, struggles to pay his school fees.

Even if she had the money, education in Cambodia, like lots of other places, rewards those children who get the best grades — and can afford additional classes, tutors, and sometimes bribes. For very poor children, this system pushes down their confidence and self-worth. For them, education isn’t fair.

In tourist-strong Cambodia, speaking English gets you jobs and opens opportunities. That’s why F2F’s school, in one of Phnom Penh’s poorest neighborhoods, gives children like Dara the confidence to speak English without worrying about grammar, sentence structure, spelling, making mistakes — things that inhibit children from speaking English. 

State schools teach English the old-fashioned, test-heavy way, which results in students inability to have a simple conversation even after years of study. 

F2F gives Dara an education that mirrors how children learn language in the first place. No competition, grammar tests, or over-correcting. Instead, lots of talking, activities, building confidence, and all delivered with kindness and joy. That’s how children learn best. 

Dara, by the way, never misses a day of school.

*Special thanks to the Church-in-the-Garden and participants of the Beer-in-the-Garden event on October 1, 2017.

Victory Garden Progress in Siem Reap

Amazing progress report from the SCC*F2F Community Center in Siem Reap. Organic gardens, using all natural processes and utilizing very basic permaculture and organic gardening practices, were created by the children of the community center on January 6th. Now, not even a month later the gardens have produced lots of vegetables that you can eat every day, providing good, varied nutrition.

Check out the before and after pics!

Getting a Good Education & Enjoying It Too

So our Cambodia education program began with a pilot school in Phnom Penh 9 years ago, and here's 2 bits of good news. 

  1. The government still hasn't forced families out and bulldozed their houses down to build luxury condos. 
  2. We have proof that our program works.

The 6 students here spent years at this school. Because of the music skills, teamwork, and friendship developed at our school, they all received scholarships to a well-respected private school. Doctor, teacher, interior designer -- these are some of the aspirations they have. 

In the meantime, the 75+ younger children at the school, all from the poorest families, continue to show a curiosity, earnestness, and energy that motivate them to discover and learn. Together with nearly 150 other children in Battambang and Siem Reap, F2F continues to stress that a good education is far more varied —and enjoyable — than what children normally get at regular school.

Gratitude to all who participate in our child sponsorship program, and a special call-out to the World Service Committee members from the Church-in-the-Gardens in Forest Hills, New York and their years of generous support. 

Good supporters mean everything!

Last month, we posted about our work with the Boeungkak School, and thanked The Church-in-the-Gardens for their continued support of this school. The World Service Committee at the church is currently working hard to put together a dinner benefitting The Face-to-Face Project and the Boeungkak School - you can learn more about their incredible work by visiting their website, and, if you are interested in supporting this project, by visiting their fundraising page. 

The work we do is only possible because of the generosity of individuals and communities like The Church-in-the-Gardens - and we are incredibly grateful for their support! 


March 21, 2015

Six years ago, Face-to-Face began working with our local partner in Cambodia, Salvation Centre Cambodia (SCC), creating a pilot school for the poorest children in one of the worse slumbs in Phnom Penh. 

For many of these children, this was their only opportunity to pursue their education, and nurturing and teaching them was a daunting task for two young teachers, Miss Lalin and Miss Kanha. 

And here are our two teachers today - still with us, and still making a huge impact on the children, their families and their community. What heroes they are! 

A very special thanks to our friends and supporters at Church-in-the-Gardens in Forest Hills for making this school possible. 

Update from the field: The Future is Theirs

Dear F2F friends, 

Long Nit, age 15, lives with her sister and grandmother in this house near Siem Reap. Both sister are HIV+, lost their parents to AIDS, and have fallen many grades behind in school as they struggle to find money just to feed themselves. 

The F2F Siem Reap Center began working with Nit 2 years ago - since then, we've seen Nit advance to grade 5, we've introduced her to traditional music and dance, and we've even helped her discover a love of growing orchids. 

Nit has also grained confidence in the possibilities for the future - not just for herself, but for her family and her community as well. That's why Nit is now our youth group president. 

The future for the poor in Cambodia may be even more challenging than in Malawi, as social norms and systematic corruption here can feel overwhelming. Few Cambodians feel they can change the system - but if anyone can, it will be young leaders like Long Nit, who are beginning to see that their future depends on their self-reliance. 

Helping people help themselves - that's what F2F is all about. 

This is my last dispatch as I head toward home - along the way, I'll be stopping in Tokyo for meetings with the former Japanese ambassador to Cambodia and the current Malawi ambassador to Japan and Australia. Wish me luck that they may see the value and impact of what F2F is doing. 

Thank you, our friends and supporters, for letting me share my F2F experiences with you these past 6 weeks. It's been a privilege to do so. 

best wishes, 

Ken Wong, Founder and Executive Director                                                                                                                                


Everyone’s voices are heard

Dear F2F friends, 

On the last day of our workshop on self-reliance, everyone participated in making their programs even better. 

Here, two of the women were the poorest farmers in our organic farming program — and now, their voices are crucial in strengthening these programs and increasing their impact.

Their voices, their programs. Let the women’s voices be heard!

Ken Wong, Founder and Executive Director