by Gillian White
Last week, PLF went to Koh Ker to host a lunch for the primary school students. That day, we also held a small ceremony for Saren, our first graduate from the Srayang dormitory. By finishing grade 9, Saren is the first person from Koh Ker village to finish secondary school, a tremendous achievement for not only her, but for her parents, who themselves are not educated, and thus see little value in an education.
Saren and her parents were presented with a certificate in front of the current 5th and 6th grade classes at Koh Ker school. Saren spoke to these students, telling them that they should work hard to finish 6th grade in order to head to the Srayang dormitory and then finish grade 9. She urged them to study hard in order to open up opportunities for self-improvement, as well as opportunities to help their community. Her parents listened intently and seemed very proud of her.
Saren was part of the first group of students,who graduated from 6th grade at Koh Ker when PLF first began supporting the school. These girls were first housed with families in the town of Srayang, but this experiment unfortunately failed. After that first year, PLF built the Srayang dormitory, which currently houses 7th-9th grade boys and girls. The dormitory is a clean and secure, community-supported compound which provides students with plenty of food and extra classes; a place where these students can learn and grow.
PLF is incredibly proud of Saren, who will soon be moving to the Bamboo Shoot girl’s dormitory in Siem Reap in order further study English and computer literacy. Early next year, Saren will hopefully enroll at the Shinti Mani Foundation for hospitality training.