Since 2005, we have identified 2 remote villages in the Baray district that were badly in need of schools. These villages are characterized by being fairly isolated and accessible only through badly maintained dirt tracks. Young children do not attend school because they are too young to make the arduous journey by foot to the nearest school, often kilometers away. Because they do not start school appropriately, the children remain illiterate and innumerate. When they become old enough, they are already very far behind and find it difficult to cope with school. Often they will just default from schooling and remain uneducated.
The first of these villages was a small and very poor village, Chhom Trach. By the grace of God we were able to raise enough money to enable the building of a 2 classroom school, as well as to provide the village with a bore well in the compound of the school. We have since returned to Chhom Trach twice after commissioning the school. On the recent trip in November, we were able to witness the school in session. There are 2 teachers catering to approximately 122 students of Primary 1 and 2 levels. Three classes are in operation with 38, 40, and 44 students respectively. By next year it is anticipated that the school will be maximally utilized with 4 classes (2 classes x 2 sessions) in operation.
The second village we were able to minister to, is Ta Peuv, consisting of approximately 200 families with about 500 children. Once again, by God's grace, in 2006/7, we managed to raise more than US$10K to build a 2 classroom brick school complete with toilets and furniture, plus a bore well in the school compound for the village. As a gesture of their commitment to the school every family from the village contributed 3 fence poles to be planted for the school fence. We reciprocated this gesture by contributing to the purchase of barbed wire for the fence. During the November trip, we observed the students in class and were able to meet with the village committee. Currently 2 classes are in session (1 class x 2 sessions), as the school only started in October 2007. It is anticipated that in 2008, when the present class is promoted to Primary 2, another 2 classes will come into session.
We have also evaluated the needs of a third village, O Ta Saeng, just across the border in Kampong Cham. This is a village with 175 families and 177 children (92 girls). The village leadership has committed a plot of land (~20x80m) for a proposed 3 classroom school. The anticipated need is relatively large as the school is expected to also support a neighbouring village, Neang Leung, with ~80 families. The estimated cost for building this school is approximately USD15-18K.
We praise God, as the latest news is that the village headman has just accepted Christ. Furthermore, recent visitors from Alor Star Wesley church, who were celebrating their 47th wedding anniversary have pledged a sum of USD10K to co-sponsor the building of the church. God is great!