COUNTRY: CAMBODIA
PROJECT: CAMBODIAN CARE
DIRECTOR: KOY CHHIM & RENY PHOEURK

In Toulpongror, the garment factory district of Phnom Penh, women work very long hours for extremely low wages. Some, desperate for money, are lured into the sex industry. With insufficient money to pay for school (the public government schools typically cost about $40/month), children used to be left home alone where they were vulnerable to predation. That changed four years ago when Koy and Reny started Cambodian Care to provide an elementary education for the children of this district.

The school uses the government curriculum but they teach using the Montessori method, highly unusual in a developing country where rote memorization is the rule, and the children are excelling. So far, 100% of their sixth graders have passed the national 6thgrade assessment exam. That compares to about 60% of students in the government schools.

Koy used to be the National Director for Teen Challenge – a U.S. based organization tackling alcohol and drug addiction. He resigned four years ago to start Cambodian Care. Koy is an incredibly wise administrator, and he demands excellence from his students and staff. His eyes constantly sparkle with joy. Reny grew up in a rural village near the Thai border. She was the first and only girl in her village to continue her education beyond the 6thgrade, much to the consternation of her grandmother and other villagers. She eventually convinced her parents to let her move alone to Phnom Penh to attend the University where she studied accounting. Koy and Reny are now a husband and wife team running Cambodian Care.

Koy and Reny dream of starting a middle school so their Tuolpongror 6thgraders can continue their education, and a partnership with Global Pearls will hopefully allow this to happen, in time. Meanwhile we help fund the elementary school.

It is important to Koy and Reny that their teachers are highly qualified, so they want their teachers to receive ongoing training in the Montessori method and effective teaching techniques. Global Pearls will fund this annual training.

Finally, human trafficking is a serious problem throughout Southeast Asia, and poverty-stricken communities like those Cambodian Care works with are particularly vulnerable. In an effort to protect families in his schools, Koy uses quarterly meetings with parents and caregivers to teach about the dangers of trafficking. Child labor is often required by desperately poor parents that cannot earn enough to feed the family. He has chosen twenty of the poorest families from the Tuolpongror school to receive large bags of rice each month if the families keep their children in school. Global Pearls will also fund this effort to combat child labor and trafficking.