Did you know, that, according to the United Nations, Cambodia is still one of the ten most underdeveloped countries in the world? While urban areas like the capital Phnom Penh and the tourist hotspot Siem Reap show economic growth and rapid development in terms of infrastructure, educational institutions, and international work opportunities, the 75% of Cambodia’s population that live in the countryside hardly get to see or benefit from this progress. Many families still struggle with survival and are not granted access to education, full stomachs, or a safe roof over their heads.
As many studies show, malnutrition has devastating long-term effects on children. Children suffering from hunger may never fully develop and reach their full cognitive potential. On the other side, children who are well-nourished are 33% more likely to escape poverty as adults.
That’s the reason why we support families in need not only through the distribution of school supplies and the coverage of tuition but also through monthly food donations. Lihour’s and Lisah’s family in rural Kampot is one of these families.
Lihour is 15 years old and is a student in Secondary school in grade 8. Her step-sister Lisah is 14 and in grade 7. The youngest of the family, Minea, is still in Primary school and studies in grade 5. While their parents work tirelessly to make ends meet every month, neither of them had the privilege of receiving an education themselves, which is why they continuously struggle with finding long-term work opportunities, let alone positions that pay a decent salary.
The mother of the family lives in Phnom Penh, where she took up work at a factory. The father stayed at the family’s small tin house in rural Cambodia to look after the girls and works as a moto driver.
Thomlang – Cambodian Youth Support has been supporting Lihour and Lisah throughout the past years with English classes at a local school and school supplies. This year, however, we grew aware of the fact that the family’s financial situation has worsened, which is why we started providing them with monthly food donations. These consist of groceries, dozens of kilograms of rice, noodles, condiments, non-perishables, and hygiene products. We hope that we are thereby able to stabilize the family’s situation and help the girls focus on their education rather than trying to find work at such a young age to support their parents.
As Lihour is already in grade 8, she was also in need of a smartphone. Since the pandemic, teachers like to make use of online material as well as give the students group assignments to complete from home. Furthermore, many Khmer apps have become available that provide additional online study material.
We remain in contact with the family and are committed to supporting them until their situation betters.