Dec 12, 2017

Partnering For Impact

Seangly
Seangly

Warm greetings from Phnom Penh, Cambodia,

We have had an exceptionally busy past 3 months. At this time of year we had final exams, end of the school year and in the last couple of weeks our big scholarship presentation as well as our celebration of all those girls who graduated grades 9 and 12. This year we had 38 girls who passed their grade 9 high school national exams and 5 girls who all did very well in their exams and received their grade 12  Baccalaureate/Diploma of upper secondary.

We are so very proud of them all for their tenacity, determination and perseverance to succeed even though for many they live with daily challenges.  We have also provided our first University Scholarships to the 5 young women who just graduated their grade 12. Personally this is such a rewarding experience for me to witness as 2 of those girls were in our very first cohort of young girls when we established our girls’ education scholarship program back in 2013.

However, for some of the girls on our program, life's challenges are too much for them and they struggle not only with school but with their lives in general. Our scholarship program is so much more than just handing out books, uniforms, pens and bicycles; it takes commitment and perseverance from our social workers to work with the families and help them to discover their potential and options to create a better life. Sometimes they are dealing with violence, addictions, family separations, homelessness, and like all our families they live in chronic poverty in the urban poor communities (slums) of Phnom Penh. These environments are also filled with crime and a constant state of hopelessness. Our mission though is to ensure all girls are in school and have the necessary supports to stay there, our team will do whatever it takes for as long as it takes.

I want to share Seangley’s story with you to showcase how important and valuable your partnership with us is.

Seangly was enrolled on to our Education Scholarship Program in January 2013 at age 13 years and in grade 7. She has 2 younger brothers. Her father is a tuk tuk driver and her mother sells bottled water to tourists outside the Royal Palace. Their income is very small. At age 13 her responsibilities were to cook, do the housework, help care for her younger brothers – which meant missing out on class if one of them were sick, and attend school. She is very tiny and suffered a lot with headaches. Seangly expressed often her concern for her family living conditions – especially in the wet season when their little rented room would flood.

Throughout grade 7 and 8, Seangly managed quite well. She came to our community centre attending life skills and personal development workshops and her social worker began to build a relationship and trust with her family. She passed her grade 7 and 8 exams and was able to graduate to the next grade. In grade 9 however, it appeared that Seangly was not managing her school work and there were many family issues. Her social worker began meeting more regularly with her family and began providing family mediation. It became evident that Seangly’s mother was suffering from depression and she was referred to our Counselling Partner – Mekong Project for regular counselling. They were also enrolled on to our Rice Support Project. Seangly however could not catch up with her school lessons and was very unhappy. She decided she wanted to drop out of school.

However, her social worker didn’t give up! Not everyone can cope with mainstream school. Sometimes we have to look beyond the ‘normal’. Our Program Director researched options and developed a partnership with a new and innovative school (Academy of Careers & Tourism – ACT) which blends studying for their high school diploma through a career and technical line of education and internship. Seangly was taken to visit this school, sat an entrance exam and was accepted. She is now doing incredibly well and achieving more than she ever did at school. She recently rang her social worker and thanked her for finding this opportunity for her and that she finally felt very optimistic about her future now. Seangly’s mother also recently spoke with our Director thanking AusCam for their perseverance with the family, for counselling and monthly rice and importantly stated that their family bond and relationships are improving daily. Both mum and dad are also about to start a parenting program together through one of our partnerships.

Last week we received an email from ACT School director; “Overall Seangly is doing very well in school. Initially she said it was too difficult, however when you see her recent scores she is now performing above average. She comes to school joyful every day and works hard to participate. She is always polite and helpful”.

Seangly has gone from a young girl who felt hopeless, lacked confidence and direction for her future and potentially vulnerable to dropping out of school and in to exploitative work.. to now having the prospect of a bright and happy future. How wonderful this is!

We would also like to take this opportunity to wish you and your family a joyous Christmas with friends and loved ones and a healthy, happy and prosperous 2018. 

Thank you to all of you for your partnership with us as we continue to believe in the power of education to change lives.

Grade 12 Graduates
Grade 12 Graduates
Graduation & Scholarship presentation Day
Graduation & Scholarship presentation Day
Preparing for Scholarship presentation
Preparing for Scholarship presentation

Links:

Sep 11, 2017

Partnering For Impact

Mentor meeting with Rotha at her original home
Mentor meeting with Rotha at her original home

Dear friends,

Welcome to our first GlobalGiving report! We love being able to share with you - our donors -  the impact your generous hearts is having in the field. Reports like this give us an opportunity to share with you stories of girls like Rotha.

As one among the first beneficiary girls of our Girls Education Initiative, Rotha has a truly inspiring story and is an example of one of the many girls whose lives are being impacted through your support.

Our Education Scholarship Program was established in 2013 with the aim of identifying girls from our partner schools who are at high risk of being deprived an education due to poverty. 

When we first met Rotha, she was clearly at risk of having to drop out from school. She was 13 years old and studying in grade 7 and the eldest sister of her three younger siblings. Rotha's father was a motorbike taxi driver and her mother was mostly a busy housewife and mother of the 4 children. Their income was a meagre $5.00 per day.

Just imagine having to feed 4 children and 2 adults with this amount of income. The family rented an old, 4m2 wooden house covered with zinc walls and roof for $30 a month, without a separate room or a proper toilet, and, when it rained the water leaked from the roof and flooded the house. Rotha missed classes frequently and couldn’t attend any extra classes (which is normal in Cambodia) because she was responsible for looking after her little siblings and the family struggled to pay for the associated costs for schooling. 

But we believe she can change her world, and we stepped in…

Rotha was a hardworking and diligent young girl who often struggled to go to school due to her family's challenges   However, no matter how hard it was Rotha continued to believe that only education could change her and her family's lives.

Since receiving our scholarship, Rotha now had enough study materials (books, uniforms, shoes, bag and books/pens and bicycle) which had always been a big challenge for her and her family. Our social worker regularly worked with her to encourage her study and she was invited to join various self-development and life skills workshops. Rotha became part of the AusCam family, making many new friends and feeling empowered and excited about her future. Rotha was also matched with her own sponsor. Through this sponsorship, Rotha receives the extra encouragement and knowledge that someone else truly cares about her future.

We also believe, for our mission to educate girls to be successful and sustainable, we cannot ignore the economic situations of the families of our girls. By walking along side our families and supporting them through various opportunities to increase their livelihood, this in turn not only improves living conditions but also reduces the risk of their daughter dropping out of school.  We use creative means and partnerships with other local NGO’s to support families who need this assistance.   For Rotha’s family, we worked with her dad to identify his skills and abilities and were able to refer him to one of our partners to participate in their Tuk Tuk (Motor Bike Taxi) Project.

Rotha’s father was accepted in to their program and he was given a brand new tuk tuk, including some small business mentoring and ongoing follow up support. Now he has the ability to increase his income through operating a new taxi business which has greater earning capacity than just a motor bike taxi service.  The family were very excited and the father committed to working hard to support his family.

And the positive changes started…

Rotha’s father started his new business  and before long, his income increased daily by more than triple to $15-$20 per day.  As well, AusCam began a pilot ‘Rice Project’, supporting families with a monthly rice allocation and Rotha and her family were one of the first to also receive this extra support. 

So how is Rotha and her family today?

3 years later and Rotha is now studying in grade 10 in high school and she has recently turned 16 and is now the eldest of 5 children. They recently welcomed a new little baby boy into their family. The family has just moved to live in a new rental room. Although still the same size as the old one, but this home is made of concrete with a solid roof and with a good toilet inside. The new house is also near Rotha’s school.

Rotha attends our Life skills and personal development workshops, meets her case manager (mnetor) regularly and her study results have improved from ‘average’ to ‘good’, she is able to attend extra tuition classes and importantly she goes to school regularly.

Recently, Rotha shared her feelings with our Program Director - “Now I am so much happier than before; my house is nearby my school, my family income is better and I can now go to school regularly. Especially, my parents give me enough money to spend on having extra classes, and I sometimes can save some money to buy toys or clothes for my younger brother”.

Rotha isn’t sure what she will be doing in the future, but at the moment her goal is to graduate from grade 12 at school and we will be continuing to support her to realise her dreams.

Thank you for allowing us to be your hands in the field and deliver programs that are making an impact in the lives of so many adolescent girls.

Rotha and her family with the new Tuk Tuk
Rotha and her family with the new Tuk Tuk
Rotha sharing her feelings with our Director
Rotha sharing her feelings with our Director
Rotha at our girls' community centre
Rotha at our girls' community centre

Links:

 
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