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!
There are nearly 500 direct beneficiaries in the Sunshine community including 70 families, their children and their neighbours. Our current 3 year goal is to see at least 80% of Sunshine families enabled to meet the basic needs of their children by themselves and have their children developing well according to their age. So in August 2012, we adopted a new a community-based approach and are encouraged to see greater parental responsibiity emerging. How is this happening?
This is the story of Phana, a Sunshine mom. She had no home nor regular income and with an invalid husband, she struggled to support her two daughters' education. "The burden on my shoulders reduced when Sunshine covered my children's schooling and food," says Phana. "Now they can continue their study. I want them to have a good job and a secure future. Now I work as car washer and my monthly salary supports my family." Phana rarely misses any Sunshine activities or events. She is also committee member in each of the savings groups. "I am illiterate and I don't want my children to be like me. My heart won't be blinded; I have the heart to learn and participate in Sunshine's activities and I don't want any compensation for attending. I thank Sunshine staff and donors for their continued support and for working with my family. Right now, I really need this help." Phana's daughters are outstanding students at school, always in the Top 5. Phana laughs, "I can smile happily now!"
Now let's hear from one of our high school students:
"Wake Up!" Vanny is a grade 11 student but wasn't doing well at school and often skipped classes. In fact, he wanted to quit school. However, Sunshine staff constantly encouraged him to persevere and recently, his behaviour began to change. "I won't miss class anymore, I will be on time for school, I will work hard and try to get better grades," Vanny said. "I'll do my homework and study for exams. I don't want to waste time and be a lazybones anymore. I'm grateful to Sunshine staff who have given me advice and motivation." Vanny now hands in his monthly results on time, comes to meetings and asks for help from Sunshine staff with whom he has a good relationship. Vanny hopes he can get a job as a civil servant, "Because I want to serve my people and country."
Sunshine Cambodia (SC) is working to support the children and their families who are struggling (around 395 people) developing holistically in all the aspects_ physical, emotional, educational, social and spiritual aspects.
After over ten years of our services with them, SC has planned to close its current project in three more years time. And within these last three years, SC will do its best to support and empower all the sponsored families so that THEY CAN STAND ON THEIR OWN TWO FEET after the project closed.
So what have SC been doing in the last quarter? And what changes have been made within the lives of the children and the families?
1- FAMILY AND COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT:
1-1- Economical Empowerment: SC always provided useful information to the families including job, business and training opportunity and also SC arranged training on Micro Enterprise Development (MED). One child's father was supported to have vocational training on repairing motorbike. 5 child's parents and family members found jobs with SC's support. 72 SC families and other 26 neighbor families were informed about the SC Community Saving Group which is running smoothly with 27 SC families as the members.
1-2- Social/ Emotional/ Educational Empowerment: Each family was visited regularly by our community staff at least every two months. The parents can meet together once per month during Parents Day/ Parenting Program. In Parents Day, in the average of 82% of SC parents attended and they learnt about First Aid and Time Management. 25 neighbor families were also trained about good parenting every two months.
1-3- Spiritual Empowerment: The families are free to choose their own believes. However, SC can help them to get access to the local church if they need.
2- CHILD DEVELOPMENT/ SPONSORSHIP:
2-1- Food Subsidy: 88 children in primary school got food subsidy each month through their parents in the amount of USD 14.25 per month to contribute to their expenses on food.
2-2- Education: SC is now supporting 117 children (57 girls and 60 boys) from primary school to high school. School supplies (for one whole academic year) and uniform (2 sets each) were presented to every child. 13 outstanding children were sponsored to have extra English course at a qualified private school. 2 top students were sponsored to continue their studies at a qualified private high school. All children are also supported to have extra tuitions on Math, Khmer, and/or Physics etc. (It is common and seems that the students are required to do that in most schools in the city/town in Cambodia).
2-3- Children Clubs: All 88 primary school children were invited to attend the Children Clubs which occurs twice per week. In the clubs they learnt about morality, basic computer skills, music (37 children), craft/creativity and other social issue awareness. 52 boys and girls attended soccer teams. They practice or play twice per week.
“It helps to change our relationship in a big way. We learnt about how to discuss one another’s feelings, to be more patient and to continue growing to know one another more and more.” Mr. Sokheng, a SC child’s father. “Through Sunshine Cambodia, my older children can study and my wife and I can have more time to work and earn better income our micro business.”, he added.
“I really thank to Sunshine staff who treat me well, no violence, no cursing, but they valued me, loved me, and taught me to walk in the right way. I want to be a doctor in the future.” Sokha, a SC student.
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