Greetings PLF Family
We thought we’d take a breath and send an update on what has been going on here in Cambodia since we last posted.
PLF has 53 enrolled at University in Phnom Penh and another 29 in Siem Reap. Of these, 14 have decided to remain in Phnom Penh for the duration, and the rest have returned to their home villages. Just about all of them lost their first semester this year, having not been able to complete semester one exams before schools closed.
We have no idea what the impact of this will be on their ability to finish school inside the parameters of their scholarships so we will have to wait and see. All students will continue to receive their living stipends through the end of April. Those returning home will need it to help support their families. Those staying will need it to support themselves in Phnom Penh. After April, the 14 students remaining in Phnom Penh will continue receiving living stipends and for the ones who returned home, it will stop.
All students are connected to PLF HQ via a private Facebook Group and we’re staying in constant contact with them.
STUDENTS IN RESIDENCE
All PLF Dorm students at three locations have completed quarantine and received valuable information about how to protect themselves and their families as they head back to their home villages to ride out COVID19.
All students from Srayang Dormitory were signed out by their parents who came from Koh Ker and Romchek villages to fetch the students along with their belongings and plenty of soap, courtesy of our amazing field partners at Eco Soap. Two students have remained behind with housemother Sieng Ry, who is compromised and will stay in quarantine on the property.
Our newest member of staff at Preach Vihear, Socheat, is making daily food deliveries to the house and making sure they stay well-stocked.
Both wells at the house have run dry as this year’s record-breaking heatwave settles in and a drought of consequence begins in the area.
There is one well on the property that fills up a bit overnight; they can pull enough water up for bathing with buckets. We are having 20L jugs of freshwater sent to them for drinking as there is not enough water for the pumps to bring enough water up for filtration.
BOYS DORMITORY/GIRL’S DORMITORY
The boys and girls were quarantined in their separate facilities and then grades 10 and 11 were transported by PLF conveyance to their villages at Koh Ker, Romchek and Knar. Grade 12 has the opportunity to study their Khmer public school curriculum online but the other grades don’t. Grades 10 and 11 will probably have to repeat next year, but we’re going to try and get our Grade, 12 students, out of high school.
It was a sad morning indeed for all the kids when Esa pulled up and grades 10 and 12 headed home with all their earthly possessions in a rice bag.
We had only one grade 12 student at the Boy’s House so he and “House Father” Ravuth closed up the house and commandeered the downstairs at the girl’s house. We have set up an internet connection at the house and in the upstairs study hall, we can now use existing AV equipment to broadcast the grade 12 classes every day.
Our previous English teacher Sara, who is now in Hungary has offered to pick up their English classes so we’ll be adding that back in soon. They are set, everything is well with them.
With everyone in residence, all situated we turn our attention to the other 2700 PLF students who are now away from school: away from direct medical care, away from daily food and of course away from learning, maybe for a good while.
The priority for us to get food, soap, and information to our most remote communities. PLF Staff, who are all now mostly working from home, are zooming regularly and have come up with a plan to do non-contact food drops at our most remote communites. We will start on March 31 and as we get better at it, we will expand those efforts. As things progress, we’ll start thinking about how to help with transport to Provincial hospitals that the government has set up as treatment centers.
Almost all resources and focus of the PLF mission has turned on a dime, away from keeping kids in school to keeping those kids and their families safe through the challenge that lies ahead. Let’s see everybody well enough to return to school when that time comes!
We are furiously printing worksheets and exercises to make “study packs” to include in food bundles. Coloring book pages and crayons for kindergarteners. Loads and loads of soap. Our now-empty offices are heaving with dry goods that we purchased before food prices started rising.
We’re ready to deploy. We are working. Quietly, with a great impact. Don’t doubt it for a second.
We are taking care of our staff during this time, who are putting themselves out there to deliver goods and solidarity to the most forgotten part of the population. I am SO PROUD of our team; during these difficult times, they have really shown what they are made of.
We have heard from many of you, both in words and deeds, and we feel emboldened to move forward in small steps and act on your behalf, doing what is ours to do. Thank you for having our backs.
If you are already helping, THANK YOU. If you want to help but you can’t, we understand the need to reel things in for you and yours. Do that. When you’re done doing that, if you can extend help to those whose choices are slim, be in touch. We can use your help and can get you to work.
Things are changing daily. If you can help, we’ll direct you to wherever help is needed on that day. We’ll be slow to thank you, we might be a bit slow to report on progress but we won’t be slow to act.
We send love and strength to all of you. Be well wherever you are.
You matter. x