As we come to the final push for the Opening Day of school, we can’t help but reflect on just how challenging it was this year to get to this point. In the ‘good old days’ without global pandemics, the new school year in Cambodia starts on November 1st, but the Year of the Pivot meant school did not begin until January 11th.
Our usual opening days are a flurry of excitement and celebration, and as much as we are celebrating the return of education, the celebrations looked very different. We did not do our usual speeches, big lunch, awards and games, but the job at hand was still the same; equip all 2700 students with all they need to successfully dive into a new school year.
So what does that entail?
For us, Opening Day means more than just celebrating school’s opening. 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. As usual, it was all hands on deck and each and every detail was checked, rechecked and under the microscope.
This new school year we saw the transition of the Srayang Dorm into the Srayang Learning Center, and the pathway widened for so many more students. This scale-up is massive. Instead of only the top 25-30% of graduating 6th graders who previously could get into Srayang Dormitory, now 100% of all graduates can continue on to secondary school. The school busses (Trucks!) are running and we’re pumped!
Distributions this year meant that all supplies, bicycles and backpacks were received, and students were measured for their new school uniforms. Now the team starts the mammoth task of ordering, packing and distributing over 2700 brand new fitted uniforms. It is always a sight to see when the rural students receive their crisp new uniforms for the very first time.
Friends, we did it. We survived the most challenging year our organization has faced to date. We did it together, with you in our corner every step of the way. Opening Day always leaves our hearts full of pride and excitement, and this year everything came into sharp focus: more than you will ever know. We stayed focused, we pivoted more times than we thought imaginable and we did it with you standing right here with us.
Schools are open, and now we power forward, stronger than ever, to ensure each student furthers their education, furthers their dreams, and raises their aspirations.