Every year the PLF awards bicycles to graduating 6th graders as well as first and second in class for grades 4 and 5. Bicycles assist rural children greatly in realizing their dreams to continue to secondary school, as they are often a fair distance from their villages. We find that students in 4th and 5th grade will work hard for the prize of driving home a bike, which is useful not only to them but to their families as well. This year we were very happy indeed to distribute 77 bikes at Wat Bo, 62 at Tchey, 33 at Knar and 15 at Koh Ker.
This year was the first time we’ve had the pleasure of awarding a bike to a disabled student. We are forever indebted to our new friends at Handicap International in Siem Reap for providing us with a custom made hand driven bicycle for 20 year old Yim Mao who has graduated from grade 6 at Wat Bo and continues to Angkor High School. A big thanks to Rethy Ly, PLF volunteer on the ground in Siem Reap and coordinator of the bike program, for doing the logistics on securing the bike and helping Mao learn to ride. I could talk about this all day, but I’ll let Mao’s smile tell the story.
PLF bikes are used bicycles from Japan that arrive in containers to the bike shop in Siem Reap and are refurbished, adding baskets, tire driven lights, new brakes, racks, etc. They are then warehoused until opening day when they are staged near the plf office on Wat Bo Road. PLF volunteers go out the day before the distribution and ride each and every bike, making sure they are in excellent working order. The bikes cost $34-50 depending on the model and we have found them to be very durable for use in the countryside. The students work hard to get the bicycles and we have found them to be a huge incentive for doing well in the upper grades and for graduating from primary school.