14-year old Vicheth* is learning to read and write.
Vicheth moved to Sihanoukville a few months ago with his mother and two younger siblings from Prey Veng, a poor rural rice farming province. Many people leave Prey Veng to other provinces or even Thailand to search for work and a better life.
Vicheth’s mother, a single parent, found work with the local trash collection company after arriving in Sihanoukville and earns about $120/month. The family lives together in a small room they rent for $35/month.
When one of our social workers was visiting the neighborhood last month that Vicheth’s family lives in, the mother approached our team to ask for help in sending her children to school. She said that she had heard from her neighbors that M’Lop Tapang can help.
14-year old Vicheth had started school when he was very small but stopped before finishing Grade 1 because his family could not afford to send him. His two younger siblings, aged 5 and 8 years old, had never attended any school. Growing up, Vicheth spent most of his time at home looking after his young brother and sister.
As of last week all three children are now attending classes at M’Lop Tapang’s Education Center in the “Bridging Program” that helps children who have never been to school before catch up with their studies.
“My children looks so much healthier now” Vicheth’s mother told us. Like all of the students attending classes, her children receive transport from home and back if needed, medical care, hot meals and healthy snacks, social support, and a chance to meet new friends through organized recreational activities.
*name and photo changed for confidentiality