I am happy to report that despite the COVID-19 pandemic happening all around the world, all of our Chelly Scholars remain safe and healthy. As of March 2020, universities in Phnom Penh suspended in-person classes. But our students have continued to engage in online learning as best they can. Some of the students returned to their home villages in Chum Kiri district, and others have elected to stay in Phnom Penh. Here is a letter I received this week from Sokthai, one of our current 22 scholars:
"First, I would like to thank you again for selecting me as a recipient of [a scholarship from] The Chelly Foundation. I am now a sophomore student at National University of Management in Phnom Penh.
As you know the whole world is suffering from Corona virus, so most of the countries are in lockdown. In Cambodia, the government decided to close all the schools and [invited[ students to study with online classes. In this period, it's very hard for me to go anywhere or go to work because some companies are off -- thus I decided to leave Phnom Penh back to my hometown. I a staying home and learning in online classes in the evening, My school uses two apps for students to learn online One is Google meet for teaching and one more is Google classroom for testing or exams. For my online class its okay for me. I still keep learning well and also know more about technology during this period."
Sokthai went on to say:
"I hope you and your famiy are safe and well. Don't forget to weark a mask when you go out and please be aware to wash your hands more often berfore touching to face, eye, mouth, and food. Any risk of sickness can be happening anytime. Please kindly take care of yourself. Thank you again for your donations and always [caring] for me. I hope to see you in person next year or one day. With kind regards and best wishes."
Such a beautiful letter, written in almost flawless English! Many scholars have written to me with similar sentiments.
Like Sokthai, some of our students have lost their part-time jobs due to lack of tourism in hotels or businesses shutting down. They were in those jobs to obtain needed skills as well as to help better support their families. Even though their life is now harder, I have assured each and everyone one of our students that we will continue to support them with scholarships through their graduation from college.
As I have said before, none of the students receiving Chelly Foundation scholars could ever have afforded the opportunity to go to college without your help. And the good work we are doing is paying extra dividends: for example, one of our students, Channary, who graduated with a degree in accounting and is now studing for a second college degree in English, intends to support her younger sister going to college as well in the Fall. Both came from extremely poor circumstances back in rural Chum Kiri, as I saw when visiting their home in 2018.
We will not let COVID-19 deter us in our mission to transform the lives of these young women. On behalf of all of us at The Chelly Foundation, I again thank you for your past donations and continuing support.
The pictures here of our students were taken mostly before the virus hit Cambodia. One is from a visit to their home village, a second is from and the countryside around Chum Kiri. A third is one of our students wearing a mask. And the fourth picture is a picture of one of our students looking at the Phnom Penh skyline -- I would like to think she is dreaming of a very bright future for herself and her family. Please everyone stay safe.
Looking to a bright future....