These are the homes of the village kids. There are no beds, electricity or water source in the house. After attending classes in the government schools, they head home to help in padi fields for the rice that feed their families. Daily meals are rice with vegetables - meats and eggs are luxuries which they rarely get to eat. It is a vicious cycle of poverty generation after generation for every family. This is the typical home environment of students at Sopheak's Friendship School.
I am Thomas Ong, an artiste with Singapore's TV station Mediacorp. In 2012, I chanced upon the opportunity to help Sopheak's Friendship School (SFS) - a self-funded school which provides free English lessons to the village children. The school started in the backyard of Sopheak's relative's house with 25 students. Why English? With a command of the English language, they have a better chance to find jobs in the country’s predominant tourism industry, to improve the lives of their families and fellow villagers.
Instead of “feeding them with fish, teaching them to fish” will benefit the poorer Cambodians at large.
In the past few years, with financial help from my friends and colleagues, we built a building with 2 classrooms to cope with the growing number of children who heard about the free English lessons. Now, there are about 600 children who attend the classes after finishing their classes in the Public schools. A library, proper toilets and a computer room were also subsequently built.
Along with the country’s rising standard of living and costs inflation, the schools’ fixed overheads (rental of land and salaries) have increased. Harsh weather conditions in the country have also accelerated the wear and tear of the buildings, water tank and toilets.
Over the past 2 years, I saw the deterioration of the facilities but had to put off the repairs as I did not have enough finances. Early this year, I suggested to the school to collect USD 0.50 from each student per month for the maintenance. However, less than half of the students were able to pay as their families really do not have this spare money and we stopped collecting after 2 months.
USD 30,000 is needed yearly for the school operating funds. Additional funds are also needed for the maintenance of the facilities.
We rise by lifting others. I have seen the lives that have become better and I hope you can join me to keep the school going.
On behalf of everyone at Sopheak's Friendship School, THANK YOU for your support. Please send an email to (email hidden) with your name after you have contributed so the children can express their gratitude to you for giving them a chance to improve their lives and those around them.
SFS Spelling Class (click on link to play video) ~ 'Play Tennis'
Teacher: What about 'Play Tennis'
Students: 'Play tennis' I spell P-L-A-Y-T-E-double N-I-S. Play tennis.
A Day at Sopheak's Friendship School (click on link to play video)
Besides GIVE, we have received SGD 2,000.00 from other sources.