Sreymoa was at risk of dropping out of school - but child sponsorship saved her

The 13-year-old from Kampong Thom province is a model student who loves reading and has been studying hard since resuming school last year.

I want to grow up to be a teacher and give other children the same chances as me,

says Song Sreymao, proudly hugging her textbooks.

In less happy times her parents struggled even to feed Sreymao and her six brothers and sisters, let alone send them to school.

Earning little more than $12 per month, Some Song, 50, and Theam Pao, 48 – a fisherman and farmer - put their children to work to help the family survive.

Sreymao, from Ksach Chiros village, was forced to drop out of school for a year and remembers how she felt when she had to leave.

She says:

Going to school requires study materials and uniform, however, my parents could not afford to buy me these things. My parents sometimes insisted on me not going to school in order to help do chores.

Without encouragement from my parents, I dropped out of school at grade seven. I felt rather lonely, and ashamed.

But Sreymao’s future began to look bright once again when her parents, with help from ActionAid and the Old Age and Miserable People Help Organization (HOM), got the money they needed to send her to school.

Child sponsorship money was provided through a special revolving fund group, set up to give interest-free loans to families in need.

Sreymao’s parents borrowed $50 to invest in chicken and pig rearing, and fishery equipment.

They, along with 111 others, learned fish processing techniques to allow them to store fish and sell it for a better price during high season.  

And sessions were held to raise awareness of the importance of education among local parents.

With these sources of help the family saw their monthly income boosted to as much as $37.5 – more than three times its previous level.

Sreymao, along with 320 children who were at risk of dropping out of school, was given books, pens, pencils, bags, and a uniform to get her ready for the classroom.

File 15046Sreymoa is on her way to school in Kampong Thom Province.

So far 16 revolving fund groups have been established to support struggling families, each with $1,400 to distribute in loans.