The outbreak of Covid-19 has had a profound impact across the world, and we hope you are keeping safe and well during these difficult times. Sadly, for our 728 students and their families, the pandemic has hit them particularly hard.
School closures has caused further disruption to the education of our students and the closing of countless businesses and factories has forced many families further into poverty; 90% have lost over half of their earnings, with almost a third losing all sources of income. Struggling to pay rent or buy sufficient food, ISF students are under increased pressure to drop out and seek informal – often dangerous - employment to support their families.
Thanks to the support of people like you, ISF has been able to innovatively respond to these challenges to ensure we can continue offering our holistic support. This includes:
- Online and take-home lessons with tablets and top-up data for students who need it.
- Monthly food parcels and hygiene supplies to 555 families and additional parcels and meals available to those experiencing extreme financial hardship.
- Continued access to free healthcare and medical support at our ISF facilities.
- Career counselling for students and parents to help with employment opportunities
- Advocating for reduced rental fees or deferments with 121 local landlords.
- Encouraging children to stay active at home with home exercise videos and virtual football coaching sessions.
With schools expected to be closed until November, our students have taken this new way of remote learning in their stride. This is certainly the case for 16-year-old student Panha.
Due to fears over the virus spreading in Phnom Penh and work having dried up, Panha’s parents uprooted the family hundreds of miles to stay with relatives in Prey Veng, one of Cambodia’s leading agricultural provinces. Regardless of this, Panha has been one of our most devoted students while schools have been shut.
Panha explains “I care about my education very much, especially English. I think English is very important for Cambodian kids because it can really help our studies. We can also make new friends around the world and maybe even study abroad. It can help us to make our country better.”
As a result, he has been an enthusiastic and reliable participant in Zoom lessons with his teacher Josh. He manages to fit this in even though he is now expected to work on his family’s farm. Despite helping with ploughing, looking after animals, and growing vegetables, Panha has continued to participate in all ISF’s online English lessons.
Panha is even going the extra mile, taking the opportunity to set up an English school to share his knowledge of learning English with local children.
"The funny thing is I don’t really like kids that much! So, I’m not sure why I did it! But I’m glad I did. I’m really grateful to ISF and to my teachers for supporting me, so it’s good for me to support others."
His decision to teach the local children came when he realised that their English was lagging far behind their Khmer. The province of Prey Veng is one of the country’s poorest. So Panha wasn’t surprised to learn that nobody could afford extra English lessons. Having already helped teacher Josh with some teaching at ISF, he decided he would start offering free classes.
“It wasn’t hard to get the children to take part at all,” Panha explains. “I use an ‘English For Children’ textbook to teach them, and also the knowledge I learnt from Josh. Sometimes it can be a lot of fun, especially when we play games. I think if they can learn English it will be much better for them in the long run.”
In the future Panha would like to work as a businessman and a farmer, all while helping Cambodia develop further. We believe that if he is already showing so much initiative, drive, and ability to cope with adversity now, there’s nothing he won’t be able to do later. We can’t wait to have students like him back in our classrooms, giving us hope for the future.
The importance of your support
Responding to the emerging challenges and needs of our students and their families has only been possible with your generosity to ISF. Thank you for helping us to continue providing a necessary safety net to those experiencing food and income insecurity in these challenging times.
The coronavirus outbreak is however having a huge financial impact on us and we are currently operating with fast-depleting resources. This limited funding has forced us to make some difficult decisions including unfortunately not being able to take any new students in our Catch-up Programme for the new academic year. We urgently need new funding if we are to provide our services both in the current crisis and into the future.
If you are able to make another donation to ISF it would be very much appreciated. As part of their Bonus Day, GlobalGiving are also matching all donations between $100-$1,000 on 15th July meaning any support you can give will have even more of an impact. Please do also consider asking your friends and family to get involved so we can continue our vital support that your generosity makes possible. We appreciate this is not a small sum of money and so I would note that any donation you are able to give would be greatly appreciated.
Your ongoing support to ISF will ensure we can continue making a difference to some of the most underserved children in Phnom Penh so they can build a brighter future for themselves and their families.