Then the ones who pleased the Lord will ask, "When did we give you something to eat or drink? When did we welcome you as a stranger or give you clothes to wear or visit you while you were sick or in jail?"
The King will answer, "Whenever you did it for any of my people, no matter how unimportant they seemed, you did it for me." .......Matthew 25

Thursday, April 7, 2011

A question of attitudes?

In the course of our work in Cambodia we have been through many communities. We try to evaluate the needs of the community, but more importantly, the quality of the village leadership as well as the commitment of the leadership and community to the educational mission in their own community. In simple words, we are interested to know if the community values education and will encourage the children to go to school.

On this last trip we had the opportunity to visit two villages with somewhat similar needs but very different approaches to the problem. The differences highlight just how important community cultural attitudes are in determining effectiveness of what we try to do.

Village A was sited about 1.3 kms from the nearest school. This was a fairly large primary school. The road to the school was a well maintained dirt track which passed through residential housing all the way to the school edge. The village head complained that the children could not go to school because the kids had to walk the 1.3 kms, and that as the school was situated on the main road, the journey was dangerous for the children.

Village B was a small isolated community. The nearest school was close to a temple about 1.2kms away. In the dry season, the children can walk to school through dirt tracks by the padifields. In the wet season however the fields and tracks are flooded, and the children often had to walk part of the way and travel by boat just to make it to school. The villagers were concerned that as the children were too young, and had not yet learnt to swim, this presented a very hazardous journey for them. One of the villagers said that as they felt it was important for the children to go to school, he would marshal them into long boats and ferry them to school.

It seemed to me that while Village A was just prepared to give up over the slightest obstacle, Village B was committed to find their own solutions because they felt education was important.

It was really not surprising, that despite being so isolated, Village B children were highly represented in high school and universities. Attitudes are important.

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