Home News Cambodia Free School Offers Hope to Cambodian Rubbish Dump Children

Free School Offers Hope to Cambodian Rubbish Dump Children

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Download Hundreds of poor families live at Phnom Penh’s dump site.

Most of the children don’t go to school because they have to work instead.

But things are starting to change now that a local NGO is providing them with a free education.

Sorn Sarath meets the woman behind the organisation.

42-year-old Phymean Noun is looking at the dump site near Meanchey district in Phnom Penh.

Hundreds of families live here and children are picking through the trash to earn some money.

“The smell was so bad. Thousands of flies here and the kids fought each other just to get the garbage, cans and plastic bags. They fought and talked bad.”

But now there’s also a yellow four-storey building – it’s a free primary school run by the People Improvement Organisation.

Phymean set up the NGO 10 years ago.

“One day I went to the riverside to eat my lunch. I bought barbeque chicken. When I was eating, a group of street kids came to me for money. But I said my hand was dirty. So I told them to go away and they left. I finished eating and threw the bones in a trash. Then those kids run quickly, they came and grab the bones and eat.”

It was a lunch that changed her life forever...

“I couldnt sleep, I thought about it every night. I had to do something to help these kids. And I quit my job a month later to start the People Improvement Organisation. I spent my own savings to start the school.”

It cost 30 thousands US dollars to build the school next to the dump site.

The school started with only 50 street children... and now it has more than a thousand students.

“A lot of people asked me why I built the school here. The kids work here and you want the kids to go to school. They really wanted to go to school but their families want them to work. That’s why I built the school here so the kids can come and go back to work easily.”

Phymean went to the rubbish dump and talked to the children, inviting them to study at her school.

She also had to work hard to convince the parents.

The parents agreed to support their children at school if the school could provide meals for the kids while they were there. Plus a small amout of rice each month for the family.

38-year-old Chorn Pov sends her two children to the school. She doesn’t want them to end up like her...

“The school is good and it’s acting as the parents for the kids. I don’t have anything to give to my children, so I send them to the school so they wont pick garbage in the future. I want them to learn how to read Khmer and English.”

The primary school is licensed to teach Cambodia’s official curriculum until sixth grade.

The students who graduate from the school are recognized nationally by the Ministry of Education.

The school runs throughout the day to accomodate students who also have to work picking up garbage.

16-year-old Sun Piseth is about to finish school.

“One day I asked a boy who was coming to study here and he told me that it was free. Then I asked my sister to send me to school. I’m happy because if I didn’t come here I would have ended up picking up garbage for the rest of my life. I want to become a teacher in the future to help poor children.”

The school also provides computer and English classes for the students.

15-year-old Penh is practicing her newly-found skills.

“My family is poor and has many brothers and sisters. I want be rich and help the children and the poor in the school. I want to become a doctor.”

In the corner, 16-year-old Pros Chen is eating lunch with his friends.

“My family is so poor so my mother brought me here. If I don’t go to this school, it’s going to be too difficult for us when the country develops. I want to be a teacher to teach other poor children like me.”

Phymean says the organization is ready to build another school for underpriviledged children.


Last Updated ( Monday, 18 March 2013 14:50 )  

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