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Cambodia is being rapidly developed as noticed but some poor rural areas are still affected with some impacts of enrolling school and getting high education and lacking of employment. Many street children are asking money on the street, their families are so poor. Most of them are from the rural areas of Cambodia and they force their children drop out of their school to work over the fields or to work as housemates.
Although the Kingdom of Cambodia is rich in natural resources, decades of war and internal conflict have left it one of the world’s poorest countries. For the social and economic are scars. Many millions of land mines were sowed throughout the country side, where millions still lie, hidden and unexploded. Many Cambodian who live in this areas, and they are an obstacle to agricultural development.
Many people are moving from the more densely populated province into the city and some of them have flied to work for other neighbor countries such as Thai, Malaysia and Korea. Cambodia's poor people number almost 4.8 million, and 90 per cent of them are in rural areas. Most of them depend on agriculture for their livelihood, but at least 12 per cent of poor people are landless. Small-scale farmers practice agriculture at the subsistence level, using traditional methods and productivity is low.
Two thirds of the country's 1.6 million rural households face seasonal food shortages each year. Rice alone accounts for as much as 30 per cent of household expenditures. Rural people are constantly looking for work or other income-generating activities, which are mainly temporary and poorly paid.
Poor Residence Areas Block, Phnom Penh, Cambodia, 02 January 2011 – Fourteen years old Oung Srey Leak had to drop out of her school for over one year now when her father died and mother has a breast cancer so Leak has to work to raise her younger siblings and earns money to cure her mother. For this little girl, she needs to go to school to study but unfortunately she has to work as a housemate in order to earn money to support her family. “I used to cry when I saw other young girls around my ages on their way to school while I was walking to buy food at the market for my house owner,” Srey Leak says.
It’s really sad when I interviewed her, her family moved to live in Phnom Penh in 2009 and her house is near my new house at Cambodia International Airport block. My parents always give some little money to her and her mother or sometimes we gives them rice. Luckily her mother has been offered a treatment from Sihanouk Hospital for her Breast Cancer, due to her diagnose is still be cured so she has a free treatment from the hospital. Anyways, Leak has to work more and more to help her siblings but she really wants to study and I have helped her by finding some NGOs to offer her for studying or training skill, anyways I and she are still waiting the result that I have contacted a few NGOs in Cambodia.
I was born in 1987 in a low class family from Korki Thom Village, Kandal Province where no one is educated. I don't have any siblings but I do love my cousins as my siblings. Without education, my parents have met many obstacles to help our lives. My parents moved to Phnom Penh City when I was 3 years old in order to earn more money to support my family and send me to school. Before my father was a worker and mother was a seller, both of them earned money so hard to raise and send me to school. The poverty became the biggest barrier all the times for me, thus I had tried to overcome all those barriers to get education. I do remember my parents said "Education is more precious than diamond", he added, "Try to study hard daughter, it’s a real wealth that you need to find and none can steal it from you. So all these things have been kept in my mind and heart forever!
Living in a poor family is not an easy thing to get higher education even we are clever and out standing from the nature, thus we have to try and try to over come those obstacles so our future will be bright. Only one thing that I could do and try in that time was “Never Be Hopeless” as I always think and say I am living in a dream so a dream is my Hope and Hope is my Dream. Poverty is the main reason that keeps me easy being out of school but I also need to overcome other obstacles including the traditional perception that girls don’t need higher education beyond Grade 6 or 9.
According to World Bank’s statement, most Cambodian children attend some schooling, but a large share complete only a few grades-with 85 percent of 15 to 19 year olds completing grade 1, while only 27 percent complete grade 7. There are also disparities in education participation rates by different regions, income groups and gender. Inefficiency and poor quality in education service delivery at primary, secondary and tertiary levels, weak local management capacity and a lack of reliability in education finance disbursement are other major challenges in the sector.
I remember when I was a child, in secondary school, most of my classmates looked down on me and they didn’t even talk or listen to me but I always encouraged myself to be strong to stand and to study hard. My nightmare of my life was to lost scholarship because of my family was poor, they scorned me that the poor people should go to sell vegetable or ask money from the rich at the market or on the road. All of these scorning words have been kept in my brain forever.
In high school, I had met many obstacles to study since my father earned money less and less and my mother became get an illness so I had to share some of my study to help them to sell ice. 3 years in High School, I always got the lowest score in school due to the school’s corruption; most teachers forced students to study overtime and if the students didn’t study then they would fail the students who didn’t pay for them. It was a heartbreaking that the poor students weren’t easy to attend class regularly.
In 2005, I was lucky as I could finish my Grade 12 with the medium grade. On the other hand, I felt so disappointed because I lose a scholarship or just because I didn’t have money to give them when I sit and wrote my paper test. I really felt beyond for what I had thought; I made my parents hopeless with the government scholarship as I already lose it. Been lucky again as I had a half scholarship from a Private University, Norton University for my 4 years study in Arts – English Literature.
My Life Today:
I graduated from Norton University in 2009, on the field of English Literature and yes I am now pursuing Master Program on the field of Development Management at Norton University. I do love this skill as it will help me more to achieve what I am doing and hoping. I have learned how to communicate in multicultural environment. Beyond this, I have been working for the bank FISB as an Administrator and also volunteering for Soroptimist International Phnom Penh as a Fundraising Officer. I do love all of my work, it doesn't give me own benefit but to the whole of my family, community, country and the world. And yes I can say my family is better than before even we are not so rich but we can afford our living and can support some of our relatives to study.
Life as a Soroptimist:
I became a part of Soroptimists on June 2010, even my club has just been begun but we all have tried so hard to make our project processed. Our first project is Breast Cancer Awareness, we all are happy to volunteer and be soroptimists. My life has been moved after I involved with the Soroptimist work. Soroptimists around the world are working so hard to empower women and girls to help their lives better and brighter. Many women and girls in Cambodia died because of this decease; a diagnosis of breast cancer is scary for any woman. But imagine being a woman in Cambodia, where the number of physicians is estimated at a dismal 16 for every 100,000 citizens, and where the cost of even basic medication is beyond the reach of most people.
Breast Cancer is ranged Number 2 in Cambodia due to women who are having a breast cancer is 80% late to be cured and most of them are from part of poor rural areas in Cambodia, the World Bank states that 35% of Cambodia's population of around 15 million exists on less than $.50 USD per day; moreover, an alarming number of Cambodian women die every year due to a lack of public awareness, limited cancer screening opportunities and the high cost of treatment. Offering the rural poor population of Cambodia free services is critical because the exorbitant cost of cancer care often prevents cancer patients from seeking treatment.
Life with PulseWire & Correspondent:
I have involved with WP since July 2010, yes only a short time with this platform, my life has been changed. I started to be confident, stronger, and braver; I have learned from others people & my own mistake. Moreover, I always get wonderful ideas and encouragement from many PulseWire sisters and staff. I have built more capacity - build up my personal and professional development. Finally, I will have a network with World Pulse allies that can be helpful for problem solving.
I am so proud of myself to be selected as one of 30 women among of 600 candidates from 87 countries for 2010 Voices of Our Future Correspondent Training. Being a correspondent makes me more confident and yes I can know who I am, where I am standing, what I am doing and who I will be. It’s a half success in my life to bring my hope and dream goes forward.
One day I got email from Rachael introducing me to 10x10 Act Project – Educate Girl Change the World. It was seem just a dream for me to sit in front of 10x10 Staff and told about my life. I felt happy and excited to talk to her, Yasmina Guerda, at my home. I can say that it’s my first time that someone asked and interviewed about my life’s journey. We met and interviewed around 2 hours about everything I have met and succeeded, especially, my education that I have earned from the poor family.
I have jointed some projects to help women everywhere; I have currently collaborated with Patty Kean, a Director and President for Helpwomenheal organization, a non-profit organization that harnesses the power of raising awareness about health conditions for most Afghan women and children, including refugees by hosting events to raise some donations from Cambodia or such as other countries if possible.
My Vision and Dream:
Many poorer countries such as Cambodia suffer from an inadequate education system. This has the effect of keeping people poor, as without literacy and economically viable skills, they don’t have any way of improving their situation. In Cambodia, NGOs play quite a big role in helping to provide education for the children who are most in need, but education in the country overall still needs much more money being spent on it. Otherwise, Cambodia’s huge numbers of young people won’t be able to get the education and skills they’ll need to contribute meaningfully to the economy.
I will be happy and peaceable if I can see many poor children, especially, girls are sent to school to get education and have good lives in the society. I want to learn more and more and make people aware of the dangers we are facing so that my village can develop like those in other countries and stop all the problems like security, trafficking and the degradation of the environment. I just wished that all girls in poor families could study like me.
I have a dream, and yes I am living on my dream. Living in a dream is the best courage to enforce me to get my goal. I would love to set up an NGO that will work to promote about human right, education and poverty. Let's see how far I can achieve my dream.