Daa, an 18-year-old in 12th grade is a recipient of our GATE, Lotus Pedals and Rice support programs.
We met 18-year-old Daa at her grandmother’s house, a three-walled wood and thatch hut on low stilts with the front totally open to the elements (and whoever would like to walk in at night) on the front side.
As with many Cambodians living with poverty, Daa was left with her grandma as a baby at two years of age in order to free her parents to migrate to Thailand as laborers. Daa said, “my parents home is very far from here, in the opposite direction of my school so I hardly ever see my parents even when they are at home”.
While her family issues may have had a profound impact on Daa’s self esteem, it is clear from her responses to our questions the infact she is doing so well in her class work. She is committed, resilient, and highly disciplined. Daa is now in her 3rd year under support from the Girls Access to Education Program and she tells us, “The GATE program provides me two sets of uniforms, shoes, books, hat, raincoat and a monthly stipend of $25. I spend almost all the stipend on extra tuition classes and occasionally, a snack at school.”
“The bicycle is provided by Lotus Pedals program and without which I couldn’t possibly cover distance of 15kms to school and back every day. I’m at school from 7am till 6pm everyday and with tuition classes in between so I have to take a packed lunch.” Daa told us she that before getting the new bike she used her grandma’s wobbly and often broken old bike to get to school. Since the beginning of the 2015-16 academic year Daa has had a brand new heavy duty Lotus Pedals bicycle of her own!
During the 9-month school year, Daa also gets 50kgs of rice from the GATE program, as they are considered poorest of the poor. The Grandma’s children send some money from their income as labor in Thailand, otherwise there is no income for this household that includes 3 small children that are Daa’s cousins, children of another daughter, left with Grandma, for a total of 4 kids in her care.
Daa very proudly tells us, “I enjoy study and get 2nd highest marks in my class of 39 students on a monthly basis. My Grandmother gives me all the time I need to study. My only household chore is to gather wood for cooking and I sometimes look after the small children here and there.” We ask what she will do after year 12 and while she is not sure, she feels teaching will be a good option for her. We are all very impressed by Daa’s strength and resolve as she tells us, “Even if I get no further support for my studies, there is no doubt in my mind I will continue to University after I finish year 12 this year!
Daa is a precious, highly capable human resource living in extreme poverty as a lotus lives in the mud. Daa’s story is one of many that convince us our investment in providing these women and children access to education is absolutely and unreservedly worthwhile!!
Daa and her grandmother.
Daa and her family
Daa and her bicycle
Daa with her grandmother and sibling.
Daa in front of her home.