Tucked away from the bustling city of Kampong Cham, Cambodia is the quaint and rural Chiro Village. The majority of the villagers are farmers who work tirelessly throughout the year, only to receive a very small wage. This means that the children in the village often are unable to complete their schooling due to high expenditure or the necessity for them to work and support their family. With limited electricity, water supply and a single track into the city, this village is very much estranged from the modern commodities that most of us are used to.
This village also contains the Workaway host OBT an educational organisation which 2 members of the Workaway team were fortunate enough to volunteer at for one month during the summer.
Founded in 2007 by the director, Sophal, they currently offer a programme of English, Maths and traditional Khmer music education to the local children. The primary focus for the organisation is the improvement of the children's level of English, so that they able to find better employment prospects and can look forward to brighter futures.
Currently, the project comprises of 5 classrooms which can accommodate around 250 students, however due to limited space, funding and teachers the organisation may have to begin turning away potential students as class sizes reach their maximum capacity.
During our stay, which was undoubtedly an incredible experience, we became fully integrated into life in the village. Our hosts treated us like part of the family, we made life-long friendships and quickly fell in love with the village and its inhabitants. We had never witnessed children with such motivation to learn, and ambition to be whatever they wanted. Girls and boys dreamed of becoming doctors, computer programmers, tour guides, teachers and all understood that to achieve their ambitions they needed to have a good level of English. So, in every lesson we watched as the children gave their undivided attention to the teacher, focussed and continuously improved their English.
It is safe to say that every member of the project , staff or student, works towards the bettering the standard of education. Sophal is the most inspirational and humble man, all of his time is spent thinking of ways to improve and develop the project, and the children are always his main priority. He never asked for help, yet the help given by volunteers from Workaway was greatly needed and appreciated, and we really felt that we were having a positive impact on the organisation.
Having stayed for a month we really got to grips with the workings of the organisation, what funding methods they had access to, and realised that as a non-governmental organisation, could really benefit and prosper from the funds that are raised as part of the Workaway foundation. Working closely with Sophal we devised both a short term and long term plan for their future , which we hope will grow and flourish over time!
With the money raised by the Workaway foundation, the project has big ideas!
- To construct a new 3 roomed building, to act as an office, library and computer room.
- Purchase a filtration system for a newly built water-tank which was paid for by a Workawayer who did some fundraising . The water-tank is part of a new project to efficiently provide cheap and clean water potable for the village.
- Be able to provide scholarships to children, to support them through school and possibly through university/higher education.
- To provide learning and teaching resources, as well as school uniforms.