Buntha* was a just a small boy when he moved with parents and seven sibling from a neighboring province to Sihanoukville. Like many poor rural families, they moved here hoping for a better life. When they first arrived here the entire family worked on the streets collecting plastic bottles and tins cans to recycle. Their situation improved slightly when his father started earning an income as a moto-taxi driver and Buntha was able to start going to school.
Recently, Outreach Team social worker was surprised to see Buntha working on the streets again. Buntha told us that he really wanted to go to keep going to school but his family could not afford it. Although public school is officially free for all Cambodian children, families are still required to pay for school uniforms, books and supplies. For many of the poorest families even these costs prevent them from sending their children for an education.
After our Outreach and Education teams met with Buntha’s family it was decided that Buntha would benefit from being in M’Lop Tapang’s “Back to School” program, that assists families in sending their children to school by providing all the necessary supplies as well as regular follow up by social workers. The program currently helps more than 1,000 Cambodian boys and girls to stay in school.
Buntha, now 14 years old is doing great in school. He is in Grade 5 and just last month scored in the top 10% in his class. After he gets home after school he helps his mother and father with housework and every night spends time teaching his younger brothers and sister. In the future he wants to be a policeman when he grows up.
*name and photo changed for confidentiality