Back to School!
In 2011, Sitha's family left their village in northwest Cambodia to find work in Phnom Penh where they settled in a slum area. Without an education, her father worked as a guard and her mum became a garment factory worker. However, their combined low salaries were not enough to send the children to school so an NGO started to support the kids' education. Sitha was thrilled to have the chance to study but before she could even start classes, that NGO had to suddenly close its project. By God's grace, many of the children were referred to Sunshine. Sitha is now 15 and studying grade 8 this year. She loves to learn and is not afraid to ask for help.
“I am so happy that I can re-start my studies and I really would like to thank Sunshine for accepting me, my brother, and my family as part of Sunshine’s family,” Sitha said. "I want to be an engineer and support my family’s needs; I have had many challenges but I will not give up my education. And I want to say Thank You to all the Sunshine donors and supporters who keep us in their prayers."
Helping families shoulder their burdens
Since July, 53 new families were accepted into the program, bringing the total number of families to 119. With the goal of building self-reliance, the parents actively participate in Parent Days by sharing ideas, experiences and knowledge with each other.
Sor Ratha, 45, left her village 13 years ago to find work in the city. She and her husband, along with their 8 children, live in a small hut with thatch walls. Her first job as a housecleaner didn't pay enough to support her family.
"When I stopped my cleaning job, our whole family started to collect recyclable materials. We made just enough to survive, but if any of us got sick we couldn't do anything about it. Sometimes we didn't make any money at all. And besides trying to feed 8 children, we had to pay rent on the land where we built our small house."
Sunshine supports Ratha's family with a monthly food subsidy plus the education expenses of her children so that they are motivated to keep up their schooling. The parents also receive training in good parenting skills, microenterprise development, and have joined a savings group.
Ratha says, "I cannot describe my feelings - I am extremely happy for what Sunshine has done for my family, especially my children. The burden on my husband and I is relieved because Sunshine is providing for their education and is also teaching us life skills. I don't have anything but gratitude. Thank you so much for working with us. And thank you to all the donors. My dream is to see my children access a higher education and better life and become good persons in society by helping others in need. I also want to learn more cooking skills so I can open a small food business."
To give kids at risk a chance for a brighter future, Sunshine Cambodia continues to support the education costs of 106 children. Most of these kids also do extra English lessons and come to Sunshine twice a week for clubs in computers, social awareness, music and sport (soccer & kickboxing). Sunshine also supports their nutrition through food subsidies given to the parents, dental treatment and the distribution of toothbrushes and toothpaste.
From July 2013, with your valuable support, Sunshine will bless another 81 children from 48 more families, bringing the total number of the children receiving our assistance to 187 children from 117 families.
Here is a story from one SC child.
Raksmey is Going Places!
Raksmey, 14, has been with Sunshine since 2005 and is the youngest of 4 siblings. Due to poverty and hard living conditions her parents approached Sunshine to support her and her two older brothers.
Raksmey is now in grade 7 at a local public high school. She is a good student and a good classmate - qualities much appreciated by her teachers and friends.
She is also a member of Sunshine girls’ soccer team and is a valued player and goalkeeper. Her talent was noticed by the Cambodian Football Federation which invited her to join the U14 national girls’ team. In June 2013, her team went to Vietnam with six other ASEAN countries for the Regional Championships. The girls had only about 5 days to prepare so did not win so much but gained invaluable experience on the way.
"I’m so happy to be on the national soccer team and also to get to play in another country! I’m also going to study really hard because I want to go to university too! Thank you Sunshine and all donors that help me and my family."
To increase our impact in the whole community, Sunshine also works with the parents of the chldren and their neighbours. Sunshine actively encourages and supports its families to work towards improving their standards of living through various trainings, job placement and their own community savings and credit groups which have the capacity to lend money and pay interest.
Here is a Mrs Mao's story.
Mrs Mao is the mother of Rasa, a smart but mischievous boy. She suffered a lot of marriage conflict and domestic violence which led to divorce when she was 8 months pregnant with Rasa. She struggled to support herself and her son as she did not have regular income.
She joined Sunshine in May 2003, and since then has received SC’s support for school expenses (school uniform, stationery and school fee), meals for Rasa and now the food subsidy. Together with the trainings and other programs for parents and her son, her family is improving all the time.
She now runs a small business in the grounds of a Buddhist temple, selling groceries, drinks and phone cards to the students and monks who live at the temple. Since attending the Micro-enterprise Development course run by Sunshine she is now able to run the business alone with confidence and is able to save money as well.
"I am not worried about running my shop now and my business is growing all the time. I know that when the Sunshine project which supports my family closes in the next year or two, I will be ready to support my family by myself!"
May you be encouraged by the positive things that have taken place in recent months and we hope you will continue to support us and enable even more of these exciting things to happen!
Channy Nop and Bonnie Lepelaar
Handouts will never help a community to climb out of poverty and so Sunshine has been actively encouraging and supporting its families to work towards improving their standards of living through various trainings and job placement. However the most successful venture to date has been starting our own savings groups which have the capacity to lend money and pay interest.
There are 31 members in our second savings group and one of its leaders is Mr Houn Kosal who started out as a builder’s laborer but through his hard work and leadership qualities is now a road construction sub-contractor. He says, "I am saving a lot every month because I have a very strong goal for improving my occupation over the next 6 months. I plan to buy a portable cement mixer to replace the old one because if I have a new one, it can help me to save on maintenance cost and I can use it for 4-5 years to improve my business. I'm glad that Sunshine can also help me attend a machinery course."
Mr Kosal's commitment gives us confidence that he will do a great job of supporting his family by the end of this project.
Meanwhile, Sunshine has continued to support 107 children by covering the cost of their school education. 84 of these kids have come twice a week to Sunshine for clubs in computers, social awareness, music and sport and we've also helped 64 kids attend English courses at local schools. Besides education, we've supported their nutrition through food subsidies given to the parents, dental treatment and the distribution of toothbrushes and toothpaste. A more fun outing for the kids was to the National Museum and a public playground. However, the highlight for secondary students was overnight trip to the beach 4 hours away - some for the very first time!
Another new development is that a member of a local church now goes visiting with our staff, to provide pastoral care as the families request it. She also accompanies several of our children to attend local churches.
May you be encouraged by all positive things that have taken place in recent months and we hope you will continue to support us and enable even more of these exciting things to happen!