On Sunday 1st May, SKOPE visited Chumkriel Language School in Kampot. I first heard about this NGO in November from Sokha Phin, one of the waitresses at the guest house where I was staying and a former student at the school. Very briefly, Chumkriel Language School (CLS) provides free education to children living on the salt fields just outside Kampot town. They have two buildings and support over 150 children every day, helping them to get a quality education which can lift them and their families out of the poverty cycle.
SKOPE’s donations to CLS were classroom based: posters, speakers, flashcards, reading comprehension books, and lesson materials. Many of the children who attend CLS bring younger brothers and sisters to school with them because there is no one else to care for them during the day. Therefore we also bought toys and balls for them to play with whilst their older siblings are learning.
Some children came from Sovann Komar for the day to see the school and meet some of the kids SKOPE is helping. They had a great talk from the headteacher, Mr Thy, about the important work CLS does and how SKOPE has contributed and then the local children gave ours a tour of the salt fields. It was the first time they had seen where salt comes from and they were very interested in the white basins of crystals and how they are gathered.
Afterwards a game of football started up with children from Sovann Komar and CLS playing wonderfully together.
We also put up some posters in one of the classrooms which were then admired by some of the students.
This day was yet another confirmation for me that charity work is definitely what I want to do with my life. I had a wonderful time with the local children whilst we waited for the delayed bus from Phnom Penh (I was already in Kampot for the long weekend with two friends, Jordan and Rachel), and the project felt really worthwhile. CLS is dedicated to providing these children with an education and without their work, the kids I chatted and played with on Sunday would have been out in the salt fields under a boiling hot sun, piling up the grains and carrying heavy basketfuls to the storage barns for the measly wages of $2-$3 every day. It is a hand-to-mouth existence and, with a turbulent salt market, an unstable one. By giving these children a chance to study Khmer, maths, science, computers, and English, CLS offers these children and their families a way out of poverty.
SKOPE hopes to continue to work with CLS and is keen to get involved in some wider, community-based work such as their shelter housing project, the community vegetable garden, and building a hydroponics system. If you are interested in supporting any of these innovative initiatives (two words which should be used side by side more often because it’s just fun), please comment on this blog or email me at SKOPE@sovannkomar.org.