By Travis Thompson
A big part of Ponheary Ly Foundation’s operation at Koh Ker Primary over the past eight years has involved the school’s library which has served many functions. Now, it’s time for an exciting new day for the library, and in effect, the entire school and community.
From the beginning of PLF’s involvement in Koh Ker School until today, the original, small library at the school has served many purposes. For a time, it was a place where two students lived so that they could attend school, as their home village was too far away and they had no other option if they wanted to get an education.
It has also served as a triage center for student health issues, but most importantly as things have improved at the school, the library has become what it was meant to be, a place full of books and games, a place for students to be creative and expand their minds. Things had come a long way since 2006.
In 2006, Ponheary Ly Foundation began work at Koh Ker Primary School 110 kilometers northwest of Siem Reap. At that time the school was a vacant building, no students were attending, there were no teachers or staff. Step by step, the Foundation began work, expanding its programs and working directly with the students as their families let them come to school.
The first step was treating all the students for their critical health problems, including multiple kinds of infections, cuts and scrapes that had gotten out of control, parasites, and other issues relating to hunger and drinking dirty water. Once student health was at a level where children could pay attention during class, PLF supplied teachers for Grades 1 to 6, distributed uniforms and supplies, provided daily breakfasts and regular lunches, and also provided a clean water station among other projects.
At the beginning of the 2013-2014 school year, PLF hired a librarian, the village’s first Ponheary Ly Foundation graduate, Sareng, and taught her how to manage the books and games properly. The library at Koh Ker Primary has been such a success that now its role at the school has outgrown the little space that was originally given to it. So, now the construction of a new, bigger library on the campus of Koh Ker Primary is under way.
The design is much different than the current library. The new design is a stilted house which will provide space underneath for students to eat their breakfast and play during rainy season, and will also serve as a place where meetings can be conducted between school staff members, community leaders, parents, students, and PLF. The new library then serves a much bigger function, it becomes a tool to further build community support for education in Koh Ker.
Stay tuned for more updates and construction proceeds 🙂