Education for children and young people in need
Cambodia is one of the poorest countries in the world. About one third of the population lives below the poverty line. One way to escape the cycle of poverty is through education and vocational training. Our local project partner BSDA provides scholarships to the poorest families so that their children can attend school. The organisation offers courses in English, tutoring as well as traditional dance and music lessons. Young people who have dropped out of school due to their poverty are enabled to catch up on basic education and to complete an apprenticeship. Our project partner in Kampong Cham supports more than 900 children and young people from extremely poor backgrounds.
Photos Christian Jaeggi
Photo report about the project in Cambodia
Lae is 15 years old and lives with her parents and siblings in very poor conditions in a suburb of Kampong Cham, Cambodia.
Her mother has had a walking disability from birth; therefore she can only work irregularly. The prostheses and the medical care are a big financial challenge for the family.
Lae has a sister and a brother. Her father works as a taxi driver. He works hard. Still, his income is not enough to fully provide for the family.
The family of Lae hardly manages to pay for their own food, not to mention for school uniforms and schoolbooks. Thanks to the scholarship Lae can visit the school regularly.
Lae goes to school by bike. She is not the only one… On her way she meets many of her classmates. Her bike is provided by BSDA so that she doesn’t have to spend money on the bus or the tuk-tuk.
After school Lae goes dancing Apsara, a traditional Cambodian dance she has learnt at BSDA.
Lae has been one of the first Apsara dancers at BSDA. Meanwhile, she has begun to pass on her fascination for dancing to younger participants.
At public performances, which are very successful and popular, Lae and the whole dance and music group earn some additional money.
Srey is 15 years old. His father left the family many years ago. His mother is a single parent and works as a construction worker for 3 USD a day.
As the only man in the family, Srey had to take on a lot of responsibility in the household at a young age. At the age of 11 Srey started to work in a restaurant to support the family financially. Srey worked from 5:00 in the morning until 9:30 at night.
Because of these working hours Srey could no longer attend school. When Srey heard about the BSDA programme, he decided to catch up on the school education he had missed.
In addition, Srey had the opportunity to complete a vocational training at the „Smile Institute“. Srey first tried out different kinds of work such as weaving, tailoring and mechanics.
Finally, he decided on an apprenticeship as a cook. Since then Srey has regularly helped prepare the meals at the „Smile Institute“.
Besides an apprenticeship Srey has found a new family in the „Smile Institute“. He is living here with other young people for one and a half years in a programme of sheltered living. Since many of the young people come from broken families and have difficult backgrounds, they also get psychological support.
Lunch time at the Smile Restaurant in Kampong Cham. A part of Srey’s apprenticeship as a cook takes place in this restaurant of BSDA. The restaurant functions as a social enterprise.
Thanks to its friendly staff, delicious meals and the excellent location on the banks of the Mekong River, the social enterprise attracts many tourists and locals. The restaurant is self-sustaining.
In the future, more disadvantaged young people such as Srey and Lae will find a sheltered apprenticeship position in a retreat centre outside Kampong Cham. The construction is well underway: The restaurant, the meditation hall and the bungalows will all be built out of bamboo and local materials. The construction workers are people from the surrounding communities. The revenues from this centre for local and international guests will be used for the social programs of BSDA.