Saturday, July 22, 2017

Celebrating 20 Schools!

6,000 kids have access to quality education every year! That is what I’ve been reflecting on this week.

I’ve been part of a team that has been celebrating the school opening of 4 brand new primary school buildings this week and celebrating the 20th school being completed in 4 years! It's overwhelming emotionally when I look back at what has happened in such a short time.

5 years ago I was researching an opportunity to request construction of 2 primary schools. Our team decided to request the construction of 10 schools. When we finally made the request the leaders of Samaritan’s Purse Australia/New Zealand challenged our faith and said we should believe God together for 20 schools in 5 years, instead of just 10.

During the journey Samaritan’s Purse Cambodia and Samaritan’s Purse Australia/New Zealand staff, Cambodian educators and educators from Australia and New Zealand dreamed of not only providing school buildings, but improving the quality of education happening inside the classroom. Cambodian teachers were eager to receive training and Samaritan’s Purse was able to provide libraries, innovative resources and low-cost technology, much of which was designed or developed by Cambodians for Cambodia.

Secretary of State of the Ministry of Education taking time
out to play literacy games with students on celebration day

Government officials asking students how technology
provided by Samaritan's Purse has improved their learning. 

In four years over 120 teachers have been trained, over 120 school support committee members have been trained and hundreds of loving parents have heard how they can better support their children’s education.

Students by the end of grade 2 that can read and understand a simple sentence increased from 10% to 88%! Student that are functionally literate increased from 4% to 54%!

Students from these schools have started to win provincial reading competitions. Enrolment rates of middle schools these schools feed into have increased. In one area we actually had to build a five classroom addition to a middle school because of the growth!
The inside of Bos Thom preschool
20 schools including 18 primary schools, 1 preschool and 1 middle school were constructed. These facilities will provide education for 6,000 primary school children every year.

Just One Story of 20 - Tatrei

Former school building used as a
weapons depot and Khmer Rouge meeting place.
During Cambodia's brutal civil war the students of Tatrei were forced to leave school and work in the fields. The school was turned into a Khmer Rouge weapons depot and meeting place. While the war has been over for 20 years students have still been learning in those same dilapidated classrooms. Last week the roof actually began to collapse and the kids were evacuated. Fortunately, their new school building was completed and opened this week! A place that was once used as a tool of a brutal regime has now been transformed into a place of hope and a bright future educating the next generation of leaders.
The new Tatrei school

Words can’t express all that has happened and the story doesn’t stop there. In addition to improved education we’ve seen communities being changed. Communities that didn’t work together before are working together for the next generation’s future. Many people have come to know Christ and small house groups have popped up in villages where there was no Christian presence before. Local churches that were once isolated now have members and pastors serving as part of the school support committees. The church is a light in the community.

Bos Thom Preschool
It has been a great week of celebration and thankfulness to God for His faithfulness. Parents, teachers, Cambodian government officials, Samaritan’s Purse Cambodia staff, Samaritan’s Purse ANZ staff and amazing Australian and New Zealand partners have been celebrating this wonderful achievement together as one big team!

The story won’t stop there. God has inspired us and started everyone on a journey. We are all dreaming together about the next steps and you’ll be hearing more soon!!!!!

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