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A Dust Road, Frogs and a Girl who can Read!

Development projects often have unintended positive consequences.

When we built the Bos Thom school and resourced it with teaching toolkits, a library/computer lab and teachers upskilled with new teaching techniques, we expected great educational outcomes. We were not disappointed—the government spontaneously funded three new trained teachers to supplement the school’s existing staff.

Srey Pich, an eight-year-old student at the school, lives with her grandma because her father has passed away and her mother works on a tapioca farm on the other side of Cambodia. Srey told us how she used to go to work on the tapioca farm with her mother, but when her mother saw how good the new school was she enrolled her and sent her to school for the first time ever. “I love school. I can read now! I would love to be a teacher when I grow up so I can help others learn like I was helped,” Srey said.

Srey Pich_Moa Tim and a male student NarongVice Principal Moa Tim with Srey Pich and Bon Narong, the top students in grade two at Bos Thom school.

Moa Tim, the vice principal laughed and said, “So much change has happened. Before we had this new building, parents didn’t care about sending their kids to school and either took them to work in Thailand or to work in the rice fields instead. But now they see the value of the school and want their kids to learn. Our village chief regularly visits the school to make sure students are attending and to ask how he can help us.”

Srey Pich is the girl who can read in this story … so what about the dust road and frogs?

The dust road is a 23km stretch of dirt road that links her village with the nearest sealed road. The trip would normally take well over an hour but during the flood season, a 4WD vehicle would struggle for much longer to get through.

The local government reacted to our building the school by upgrading the dirt road. Let’s face it, it is still a dust road with some potholes, but the difference is remarkable.

Mr Min Sarith, the school principal, had been taught by our staff to raise chickens in order to supplement his meagre income. Because the chickens cannot survive the flood season they have to be sold off. So, we arranged some training for him at a well-run frog rearing farm in another district, and now he makes $2.70/kilo from the thousands of frogs he raises in the flood season. Mr Min Sarith now has a year-round income to supplement his teaching salary.

Principals frogs

 

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