Until last month, 10 year old Seyla* was spending her days working on the beach. She would deliver food from beachside restaurants to tourists and then help to wash up dirty dishes.  She had been doing this work since she was 7 years old, earning about 6,000 Riel ($1.25USD) a day.

With the support of M’Lop Tapang’s “Back to School Program”, Seyla has stopped working and has now entered Grade 1 at a local public school.

Seyla is the oldest of five children and lives with her parents in a very small house on the outskirts of Sihanoukville. Our team first met the family during a visit to their neighborhood by our Mobile Library. Seyla’s mother, pregnant with a fifth child, asked our team if they could help her daughter go to school.  Seyla’s father who works as a cook earns about $150/month, more than he had before, but still not enough for the family to send their children to school.

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, like Seyla’s parents, even these small costs prevent them from sending their children for an education. The “Back to School Program” assists families who cannot afford to send their children to public school. There are currently more than 800 Cambodian children and youth being supported with their education at local public schools through M’Lop Tapang’s “Back to School Program”.

Young Seyla was very excited when she learned that she would be able to go to study. With a big smile she told our social worker has happy she was that she can go to school now with the rest of her friends. Our team will regularly monitor Seyla’s progress. As well, our Outreach Team will continue to work with Seyla’s family in providing food and emergency support when needed.  The entire family now has access for free medical services at M’Lop Tapang’s Medical Clinic.

*name and photo changed for confidentially