By Travis Thompson
Ponheary Ly Foundation’s first graduates from Koh Ker Primary and Srayang Dorm are preparing to do something no one in their families or villages has ever done–enter the next phase of their lives with new opportunities for work and education. It’s a step filled with promise, but a lot of uncertainty.
Of the eight students who have now completed Grade 9 (the highest grade offered at Srayang High School in rural Preah Vihear Province), six of them have come to Siem Reap to learn new trades. Sareng, Tha and Channeang are studying to become primary school teachers by doing practicum work with a career teacher at Wat Bo Primary in the city. In addition to learning to teach, some of them are learning computers and English. In the coming months, PLF will hire these three grads to be teachers at their former school, Koh Ker Primary. These young women have all expressed interest in going back to be of service in education in their home village.
In addition to those three students, Sreymao has just been accepted to an exclusive
cooking school in Siem Reap where she’ll spend the next academic year studying to be a chef. Sreymao has expressed to us that she may want to open a restaurant in Srayang after her graduation from the cooking school.
Phannak is studying computers in the PLF urban lab, specifically Microsoft Office and Microsoft Excel, so that she can be the head instructor of a new PLF computer school in Srayang which will be opening soon, and has been fully funded by PLF Canada.
The sixth student, Chanly, is studying computers, but is considering going to beautician school so that she can work in a beauty salon in Siem Reap.
Just being at this stage, these young women have tackled a huge accomplishment after growing up in a village torn apart by conflict and violence, a place where the health situation was so bad some of their peers died while PLF tried to start its operation there in 2006. PLF now faces the daunting task of figuring out how to fund the dreams of these students who have worked so hard to overcome hurdles many of us can’t even imagine. Each Srayang graduate this year and in the future, will require $2,000 per year whether they decide to continue schooling in Siem Reap, or use the money to start a business in Srayang on their own, with the support of PLF.