by Mom Chantara Soleil
The illness and death of Roeung’s rice farmer father, the key breadwinner, eight years ago locked the family in emotional and financial dilemma – to name a few, loss of the loved one, of key labour force and of the rice paddy.
Consequently, the mother got very depressed and sick, all the schooling children including Roeung, now 19, dropped school – labouring in others’ field in exchange for daily’s rice or wage, and the family involved increasingly in heavy debts.
Plan’s child-centred interventions, especially through the funding support from its Australia office, has repositioned second child Roeung and her family as the best example in Rolum village, Sre Krav commune of Angkor Chum district – over 80 kilometres from Siem Reap town.
The family of single mother and six children now owns rice paddies (making surplus of the harvest), home garden of various vegetables, poultries and pigs; consumes treated water and healthy diet; and pays more attention to long-term investment on children’s future.
This is the life transformation of a deprived and vulnerable family out of 1,632 others (more than 8,000 people and about half of them are female and girls) resulted by Plan and partner organisation Krousar Yoeung’s utilisation of the fund raised by the Australian colleagues since 2008, through different activities, including but not limited to the happening Cycle for Girls.
“Our work to end child poverty cannot take for granted gender equality aspect. Indeed gender equality is the backbone for a sustainable development everywhere. I am glad and welcome the Cycle for Girl initiative of promoting personal challenge of cycling for charitable act in educating children, particularly girls,” says Mr. Supriyanto, Country Director of Plan Cambodia, adding that girls and boys are untapped resources and by safeguarding them to realise their full potential they will bring positive change to their community and society.
Cycle for Girls: at least 17 Australian cyclists are spending eight days in March on two wheels to celebrate the 103rd International Women’s Day and raise fund to transform lives of especially girls in bad needs.
According to Community Giving Manager with Plan Australia Ms. Lani Masuku, the Cycle for Girls – second of its kind – is inspired by Plan’s global campaign to promote gender equality among children, known as Because I am a Girl. And the 17 Plan fans are cycling over 400 kilometres from Ho Chi Minh of Vietnam to Siem Reap of Cambodia and witnessing first-hand Plan project site and life transforming reality their fundraising is supporting, like in the case of Roeung.
Thanks to the assistance by Plan, her brother is registering for a vocational skill training and Roeung has been identified as the only one best student from Angkor Chum district for the state-subsidised three-year higher secondary schooling at a prestigious school in Siem Reap town. She is not breaking her family and community record, but standing as a role model for many.
Asked what she dreams to be, Roeung replied confidently: “I want to be a leader or a teacher in my commune. How well educated I will be, I won’t leave my commune. I love the children here. Many don’t go to school. We lack of knowledgeable people. That’s why we are so poor. Life is like a fearing frog in the well. Though we are such deprived, I have so many good memories with the children’s club and our villagers.”
Like in her case, many marginalised families and children need just constant encouragement and practical ideas to live lives in order to be back on track and ready to gear up for their fullest potential. And it’s obvious that every single cent contributed via fund raising effort like the Cycle for Girl is priceless and can make a big difference.