This young man’s story and the people he has encouraged to help him along the way echo and amplify the hope we found in Phenom Penh.
Sarath Proeun began learning English at the pagoda, taught by monks, just as most boys in Cambodia are between the ages of 7 and 13. He continued his education with the help of EDventure and is still studying. Sarath told us that he would like to go on to study English literature. I found myself wondering where he found all the time.
Sarath’s unwavering dream is to help those around him, his family, his village and his community. In it’s current format that dream is focused on education, his dream is to make knowledge and education more accessible to everyone, starting with the children and adults he encounters every day. Sarath knew that many parents could not afford the cost of extra English lessons for their children. He realised that in an area of Cambodia where tourism is increasing and the ability to speak English can result in a better job or higher wages, this was marginalising children from poorer families (sounds familiar doesn’t it?).
Sarath didn’t complain, he tried to make it better. In 2013, better consisted of a few tables and chairs under his parent’s house where he taught English to anyone who wanted to learn.
Hard work and enthusiasm encouraged more good people to get involved, together they changed the face of Phum Ou School from a few tables and chairs under Sarath’s parents house to a repurposed cow shed, to new purpose built structures.
At the time of our visit Phum Ou School had 175 students on role aged 5 to 38.
Sarath and his friends and the local community were responsible for the buildings we can see today; two purpose built classrooms, a water pump and working toilets.
At the time of our visit Sarath was finalising an official sponsorship deal for the building of a library and vocational centre. Just imagine a world full of people like Sarath…
Overseas visitors with teaching backgrounds can have the pleasure of volunteering at the school. Donations are very welcome as are text books and what we might consider “ageing technology” (kindles, old tablets or iPads) please get in touch with us if you are planning on visiting Cambodia soon, if you think you or your school might be able to help.
Sarath Proeun’s story and his dream of a better future will stay with us for a very long time and we thank him for that.