This is now the 4th year that we welcome new scholarships students to our core program, School for Life. From a very humble beginning of 21 students in 2017, we have now grown to directly supporting 120 students this school year. Despite the size, we never lose the personal touch and I am proud that we know all the children we support! This is why the School for Life ceremony has always been a very emotional day for me as it symbolizes the hope and growth that comes with 120 beautiful children embarking on a new school year.
I was obviously sad that I was unable to attend in person but my loss is the gain of the amazing team of local volunteers we have in Cambodia. This was one of many firsts that made the ceremony even more special this year!
We are now working with 10 schools in the Bakong district and supporting 3,000 students and teachers. Instead of having the separate ceremonies (which we used to do), we had just one ceremony with all the students, staying true to one of our core values, which is 'United by Compassion'. These children may be born in poverty but that’s only the beginning of their story. With some support, they are empowered to pursue their dreams and write a better ending!
The other aspect I love about the student play is that the conversation and message is conveyed by their friends and peers instead of another adult trying to convince students. Even better, this year we had 2 of our students come back for the ceremony from Phnom Penh where they attend one of the leading STEM schools. The power of KongNov and SreyMey, two 14-year-old girls, sharing their journey and what they dream of. All of a sudden, the possibility of going beyond their village schools becomes so real for everyone! I’m incredibly proud of them!
I am also very grateful that we continue to enjoy the support of the Department of Education and we had all the local village chiefs and elders attend the ceremony. That sense of community and endorsement is incredibly powerful when we are looking to make real and sustainable change.
I’m incredibly proud and also grateful for what we have achieved together. This includes you, the kind donors supporting the students, and also the team of volunteers who make all of the good work possible! A very big Thank You to all of you and I hope that sharing some of the photos and stories from the ceremony gives all of you a sense of the difference we all can make.