SKOPE enjoyed another amazing donation day last weekend when we returned to Kampong Thom to a school I first visited in November 2015. We’ve already done a stationary handout and supplied sports equipment in March (read more about that awesome day here) but this time it was all about books. Library books to be precise.
The school, located in the grounds of a pagoda, provides education to approximately 450 children from the surrounding farming communities. There was already a library onsite but the shelves were either sparse or stacked with English language books neither the students nor the teachers had any hope of reading. SKOPE decided to change that. We did a fundraiser in Phnom Penh in July, selling books to raise money for the library project, and it was so successful that the entire project was funded by this day so thank you so much to everyone who supported us.
The library books were purchased from Sipar, a local NGO and publishing house. Titles ranged from a Khmer translation of James and the Giant Peach to traditional Khmer folk tales to science books. Each one was given a code and covered in protective plastic. The school has a trained librarian too, so the books can be loaned out and kept track of just like any other library. A big thank you to Sipar for their work and support of this project.
As always, I was joined on the day by some of Sovann Komar’s children and staff. They were all absolutely phenomenal on this trip and really got stuck into the tasks I gave them. They all read with the local children, helping them out on difficult words and explaining the stories. It was magical to see and I am anticipating blossoming teaching careers in their future.
We also donated two laptops, one to each school we’re affiliated with in Kampong Thom. These laptops were to be used by the school administration who are currently doing everything by hand. I’d had them loaded up with a Khmer keyboard so they could type and then Sam, Jack, and Colin, three boys from Sovann Komar, spent time with the headteachers showing them the basics of Microsoft Word and Excel. A huge thank you to my cousin, Stephanie, and her school in London who donated these laptops to SKOPE.
When it was time for the children to go home for lunch, they were definitely reluctant to leave their newly stocked library. They loitered for a while, chatting with the Sovann Komar children and staff before finally cycling away towards their family farms. We stayed at the school to eat lunch before making the journey back to Phnom Penh, during which every single one of my helpers passed out in the van.
I know I often say how much I love my work but this trip was particularly special to me for two reasons. Firstly, I got to return to where this girl, Srey Nang, studies. After taking this photo of her in November last year, she sort of became the face of SKOPEs campaigns. It was therefore an honour to go back and photograph her with some library books, proving that we can indeed “be the change”.
Secondly, I love reading myself and I was overjoyed to see the same look of rapt attention on these kids’ faces as I’m sure I get at times. They were so enthusiastic, so well-behaved, and so eager to get stuck into the new books, ready to explore the worlds captured within their pages. Already I’m launching a second library project, and am considering making this one of SKOPE’s speciality project types as the benefits are just phenomenal. Books and reading open so many doors for us and I think it is an area we can really make a difference in, especially in rural Cambodia where access to literature is limited. So please check out our next library project plans here, and see how you can get involved.