More often than not in your home country, when you hear the term ‘Opening Day of School’ it brings memories of the time of year when parents are invited to check out prospective schools ahead of enrolling their children. For us, the day means so much more than that.  The day is about celebrating the chance to go to school and all the logistics necessary to get school supplies and uniforms into the hands of children who might not otherwise be able to have a seat in class.

The weeks leading up to Opening Day at 8 different locations sends the PLF team into absolute overdrive. The preparation for the new year ahead has many different elements and requires all hands on deck.

Uniforms. Providing uniforms lies at the heart of our mission to be responsive to immediate challenges families and local communities face when it comes to schooling. This program seeks to remove one of the greatest obstacles to attending public school: students must have uniforms in order to enrol. The PLF team members measure each student for new uniforms leading to Opening day. Yes, that’s right,  2735 students are correctly fitted for their uniform.

Supplies. Along with uniforms, each student receives a supplies bundle of everything they need for the year ahead. Each year level has different needs, so we tailor the supplies to each specific student‘s grade. Supplies are one of the other obstacles that prevent many students from attending school. By supplying these children with the things they need for school, we are able to get all the village children in school, not just some.

Bicycles. This year we awarded an all-time high of 407 bicycles to graduates of grade 6. For these students, Bicycles are the only means of transport to the nearest secondary school, often quite far from their home village. Not only did our amazing donors make this possible, but they also raised enough bicycle funds that we were able to share the love with some other smaller NGOs in Siem Reap that we adore.

These three important elements are set in motion weeks before the opening of school. Ponheary’s family members personally pack each and every individual student’s uniforms and supplies for the year ahead; a tradition that started all the way back before The PLF was formed. Ponheary knew the struggles that children in rural Cambodia faced when trying to attend school. She started with one student, and now 14 years later 2735 students, from pre K to University, are in the arms of the PLF family

Every year the Open Days leave us with hearts full of pride and excitement. Each year more students in the villages are enrolling and staying school. It is because of these 3 important elements that the children in these villages have the ability to further their education, further their dreams, and raise their aspirations.

We’d also like to extend our gratitude to the team and donors, It takes a village to accomplish a project like this and we really mean it when we say we’re so happy to have you in ours!

As Ponheary says “We will educate our children. We will do it one by one, step by step”.