Higher Education for Impoverished Cambodian Girls

 
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Chhorvan at work
Chhorvan at work

Chhorvan Pursues the Path of Public Service

This report shows the success of GATEways in shepherding Cambodian women through college and often into their desired professions. This report likewise offers a glimpse into the trajectory of a GATEways scholar after gradutation, living as an independent woman in Cambodian society. In Cambodia, less than 2% of women have education beyond high school. Help us reverse this destructive trend!

 

Many GATEways scholars consider learning Korean so they can get a high paying job in Korea and travel abroad. Chhorvan, however, had other aims. Now at the age of 25 years old, living in Nakachhay village in Banteay Meanchey, Chhorvan graduated from GATEways year and a half ago with a degree in Korean language from the University of Banteay Meanchey.

 

Chhorvan was almost forced to drop out of high school, because her family was extremely poor. But with the financial support from Lotus Outreach and through CWCC facilitation, she was able to finish high school through a GATE scholarship and continue on to study Korean language in university as a GATEways scholar.

 

Chhorvan shared why she decided to learn Korean language: “My house is near a Korean organization. Sometimes I volunteered at the organization to help Koreans with the development of villages such as building houses and digging wells for the poor. I had spoken with them and learned about Korean culture and language and that made me want to learn Korean.”

In the fall of 2014, after Chhorvan graduated with her bachelor’s degree in Korean, she learned from a senior student that Kyung Sin (Cambodia) Corp, an electronic company in Kandal province, needed a Khmer employee who could speak Korean fluently and had computer skills. She applied for the position and had an interview in Korean language. When she applied for position, CWCC helped review the application and provided tips on how to conduct an interview. A day later, she was selected and offered to work as a full-time employee with a starting salary of 200 USD per month.

 

At the same time, Chhorvan also took an entrance exam to be a public servant. Chhorvan desired to work in the public sector, because she believes the benefits of the public sector, though lower pay, are better than the private sector. She said, “I want to work as a civil servant in public sector, because I think that such work is sustainable…. [Also] I can work in the region that I prefer. I wish to work in my hometown, near my family.”

 

Chhorvan took the entrance exam to be a public servant after she saw an announcement that the district hall in Banteay Meanchey was hiring public servants and offering the exam. She said she expected to fail the exam, for it was very difficult, competitive and apparently many applicants who pass the exam are rich applicants who can bribe the committees that select civil servants.

 

After working for three months at her private sector job, Chhorvan received the notice that she passed the civil servants’ exam. She informed CWCC immediately to get career advice on how to proceed. Ultimately, Chhorvan decided to work as an administrator at Ochrov district hall. Now she works there and receives a salary of 130 USD per month.

 

Chhorvan said cheerfully: “I did not think that I having just graduated, that I could get 2 jobs already. I am now proud to have a job in my country with the knowledge that I have learned.” She added that her mother is also happy because her only daughter can work near home and look after her when she’s sick. In addition to her second job in public service, Chhorvan has been accepted to continue her master degree in general management at Banteay Meanchey University.”

 

She deeply thanks Lotus Outreach, CWCC and their supporters for the assistance in helping educate her and further guiding her through her career path.

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Namthorng at the Royal University of Phnom Penh
Namthorng at the Royal University of Phnom Penh

The following report is a true testament to the huge success of this program and its sister high school program GATE (Girls’ Access to Education). It demonstrates the strong will these girl scholars have to learn and succeed, if only given the basic support necessary. It is a tragedy that less than 2% of women in Cambodia possess education beyond high school. Help us change this destructive trend!

Twenty-two-year-old Namthorng originally from the Banteay Meanchey Province of Cambodia, entered Lotus Outreach’s program as an extremely poor student. Through her hard work she was able to receive a tertiary scholarship to enter university, and is now a highly sought after computer systems network administrator working in Phnom Penh. We were able to meet with Namthorng and interview her at the Royal University of Phnom Penh, where many GATEways scholars currently study.

The sense of growth in these girls between high school where they’re too shy to speak English and the tertiary level where they know enough English and have the confidence to use what they have, is extremely encouraging. This growth from high school to college is so large as these girls are now picking between multiple job offers, earning really good money and operating with confidence in a 21st century context. It shows the true strength of this program.

We never could have known how successful this program now going into it’s tenth year would be. This is real social development, not only in the girls themselves, but also in the impact on their families and rural communities. These scholars are simply showing that girls can succeed and achieve like boys in school and also in finding well-paid jobs. It is turning social norms on their head and helping erase cultural boundaries for the better.

Namthorng tells us, “I was supported by Lotus Outreach for 2 years in the GATE program before being assisted again by LO to win a position at PNC for a two year education course in IT.”

“After graduating I applied for a job at Cloud Net Cambodia where I work as a Sales Executive selling website design and finding clients to buy their product. I actually applied as a network administrator to set up computer systems, which is what I am trained for, but I decided to do this work as it is giving me experience that I don’t have. Many companies called me to interview so I have a lot of options and while I am now earning an OK salary of $200 a month, I’ve been offered $300 and could easily get $500 after a short time doing this kind of work.”

We asked Namthorng, “Did you ever think while living in Kob this would ever happen for you?”

She replied, “In my dream I always hoped that I could get a high salary but could not imagine that I would ever be able to study in such a good university and get such great qualifications. English is very important for getting a good job and I could not have got that without the PNC training where we focused on English 20 hours per week.

Namthorng continued, “When I go home I always tell my neighbors they should convince their children and grandchildren to try hard to study and get educated and don’t look down on others or listen to those giving negative opinions...When I was studying IT at PNC I lived in a shared house with 20 other girls. I was house leader and set ground rules to ensure we could live together peacefully such as a 10 pm curfew, no walking alone in the street at night, sharing housework and being honest with each other.”

We could never have hoped for such tremendous outcomes ten years earlier when we began supporting girls from poor Cambodian families and advocating for education as a tool to reduce violence against women, which has brought profound and definite change. The success of great young women like Namthorng emerging as leaders and role models in their communities definitely makes it all worthwhile! Help us sponsor more scholars and future leaders like Namthorng! Thank you!

GATEways Scholars Jump in Joy!
GATEways Scholars Jump in Joy!

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Yan hard at work!
Yan hard at work!

Lotus Outreach’s GATEways program is thriving. It opens the doors to higher education and achievement as donors like you help aspiring students accomplish their goals! Take Yan for example.

Yan is currently supported by our GATEways program and is a third year student majoring in Law at the University of Management and Economics in Banteay Meanchey Province. Yan’s story exemplifies a diligent and dedicated student fighting to create change in both her personal life and also larger community.

Yan was born in the Prech Chey village located in Banteay Meanchey Province and has one brother and sister. When she was just 12 years old her father passed away, leaving the family in serious debt. Yan’s brother was forced to migrate to Thailand to find a job and earn more money to support their family, while Yan and her sister continued with their studies. In their spare time they also helped their mother on their rice farm to make ends meet.

After grade twelve Yan was ready to migrate to Thailand like her brother to earn more money to support her family. Thankfully, however, after receiving high grades on her final exams she discussed the possibility of going onto University with her mother.

After entering University, GATEways awarded her a scholarship, which she is still currently receiving! This scholarship covers a student’s costs for tuition, food, residence, utilities, additional class fees and a small spending stipend!

Yan has been an extremely hard-working and an active student in University. During her second year, in addition to her studies she worked as a kindergarten teacher at Sisophon Language School for 3 months earning $50 per month. Beginning in May 2014, Yan worked as a short-term data collector with CWCC to research “Cambodian Child Migrant Workers in the Thai Fishing Industry.”

Going forward Yan wants to create further impact. She aspires to work with the Government or in an Official Law Department, such as the Ministry of Justice. Ultimately, she wants to help poor and vulnerable people find justice and live equally within society.

The World Bank Agrees that investing in women’s education is the best way to encourage the right kind of global development. Supporting a GATEways girl through college costs just $100 per month, and it pays dividends to their communities for generations.

Thank you for supporting GATEways and women’s education in the developing world! Together we are making a difference for thousands as these scholars go forward in service to their communities.

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Chenda got her dream job as a nurse in her village
Chenda got her dream job as a nurse in her village

Thanks to the support of donors like you, our young scholars in Lotus Outreach’s GATEways program are graduating college and moving into skilled positions! They are becoming nurses, midwives, accountants, and more, building Cambodia’s small class of professional workers!

One such success story is Chenda, who is just 21 years old and has recently been hired as a professional nurse in her home village. Her story demonstrates how education has the power not just to transform the lives of individuals, but to provide the most direly needed services to communities.

“During my internship I helped to deliver 4 babies, and it was the happiest moment of my studies. I knew that I made the right decision.”

The youngest of 6 siblings, Chenda joined the GATE program as an 11th grade high school student. Her parents were so poor, they worked basically as subsistence farmers, eating the rice they grew from a small paddy by their house. Her parents borrowed a lot of money from their neighbors and went deep into debt.

In her two years of study, Chenda learned French to help with the pronunciation of medical terms and practices. She completed a 2-month internship at a hospital in Banteay Meanchey, and she learned the basic nursing skills that have made her one of the most medically educated people in her home village! As such, she hopes to open a small pharmacy to give her village access to modern medicines for the very first time.

All of the GATE and GATEways scholars come from the poorest households in Cambodia, which itself is one of the poorest countries in the world. Your donations and support help us to make their dreams become reality, and many of our students –like Chenda– apply their skills to supporting the rural communities from which they come.

Chenda’s new salary of $170 US Dollars per month is allowing her to pay off her parents’ debts and to help her mom save for a new house. This level of income precipitously higher than the mean income in Cambodia– around $60/month, and Chenda is still only 21 years old.

The World Bank Agrees that investing in women’s education is the best way to encourage the right kind of global development. Supporting a GATEways girl through college costs just $100 per month, and it pays dividends to their families their communities for generations.

Thank you for supporting GATEways and women’s education in the developing world! Together we are making a difference for thousands as these scholars go forward in service to their communities.

Chenda hopes to open the first pharmacy in town!
Chenda hopes to open the first pharmacy in town!
Luen is paying forward the gift of education!
Luen is paying forward the gift of education!

When Luen graduated from high school as one of Lotus Outreach’s GATE scholarship students, she wished to continue her education by becoming a teacher in a two-year government program. We were of course proud to continue her progress as one of our GATEways post-secondary scholars!

The road to Luen’s success, however, was not an easy one. Luen’s father abandoned her family when she was only in grade nine, and her mother passed away when she was still finishing high school in grade 12. She went to live with her grandmother, but her grandmother too passed away that same year before Luen had finished the 12th grade. Fortunately, the residential homes at GATE Banteay Meanchey were there to accept her.

Lotus Outreach’s GATEways provides tuition, room and board to impoverished students so they can attain post-secondary education, all for just $1,200 per year! Your contribution of $20 can pay for food support for two students for an entire month!

Luen graduated from high school despite these significant setbacks, and she moved forward into teacher training school in Sisophon. Working hard through the year, she graduated number three in her teaching class, and due to her good grades, had the choice to teach anywhere she wanted. A testament to the tremendous community impact of educating women, Luen chose to return to the rural Row Lueh Commune in the district of Svey Check, right next to her home village!

When we went to visit Luen’s class, 14 of her 17 third grade class were in attendance. Luen tells us that rural life makes high demands of children, and work on their parents’ farms precludes many children from attending school regularly. She says, “Some of the students have to stay home to help their parents process the cassava crop.”

Luen knows the people of her hometown area, and she’s proud to return having completed her education:

“I am so happy to be working in my home village. Here, I can be a role model and will help the children and families here to value education and stay in school as long as they can.”

Luen’s story has a fairytale ending. Luen met a young man while in pedagogy school, and they are now engaged to be married. Her fiancée is teaching at another nearby school.

Just several years ago, this kind of story would have been very unlikely in a country like Cambodia. Thanks to your support, more women like Luen are attending school, and they are paying it forward to the next generation.

"I know the answer!!"
"I know the answer!!"

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Organization

Lotus Outreach

Aptos, California, United States
http://www.lotusoutreach.org

Project Leader

Wesley Samms

Grants Manager
Sacramento, California United States

Where is this project located?

Map of Higher Education for Impoverished Cambodian Girls