With the support of Holt sponsors, a young girl in Cambodia stays in school and remains in the loving care of her grandparents.
Champey* lives with her grandparents in a rural province in southern Cambodia. She is 11 years old and in the sixth grade at a primary school about a mile from her home. When she was just a year old, her parents moved to Phnom Penh to seek work — leaving their infant daughter in the care of her elderly grandparents. When Champey became old enough, she went to live with her parents in the city. She was unable to attend school in Phnom Penh, however, and spent her days cleaning, cooking and looking after her younger brother.
A year later, her parents sent her back to her home province to once again live with her grandparents. Here, she had little to call her own. But she could ride her bike through the open fields of rice surrounding her village. She could sleep peacefully in her grandparents Khmer house, built on stilts to protect them from the annual rains. And finally, with the help of Holt’s sponsorship program, she could return to school.
Since 2005, Holt has worked alongside Pathways to Development — our partner organization in Cambodia — to sponsor children and strengthen families in Takeo, Champey’s home province. Takeo is a particularly impoverished region of the country, and children here are more vulnerable to malnutrition, separation from their families and dropping out of school.
Sponsored children and their families in Takeo benefit from many different programs that Holt and Pathways maintain in the community — including programs to support the nutrition, health and education of children and families as well as a microloan program to help families become economically stable and self-reliant.
To address the immediate nutritional needs of families in Takeo, Holt and Pathways provide them with emergency food packets containing rice, cooking oil, iodized salt and protein. They maintain a community rice bank for families during the three-four months before rice harvest, when they often experience a shortage of food. They also provide trainings to educate families on a balanced diet, signs of malnutrition and healthy eating. And once per month, our partner staff holds community breakfasts in each village — a time when children and families can come together, socialize and participate in educational activities that support their overall wellbeing.
As a more permanent, long-term solution to food insecurity, Holt provides microloans and business education to struggling families — equipping them with the tools and resources they need to generate income and independently support their children.
Through her years in Holt’s sponsorship program, Champey and her family have benefited in numerous ways. To support her education, Holt and Holt sponsors meet Champey’s material needs, including uniforms, shoes, books, pencils and other supplies. Through a local project that employs English-speaking tutors, Champey is also learning English after school. Outreach workers in Takeo visit her home every week to advise her family on health and hygiene and to discuss Champey’s school performance. Every month, they also deliver a health care package to help keep Champey and her grandparents healthy and safe from disease. Although her grandparents have a small crop of farmland, last year Champey’s family also received a small business loan to improve their economic circumstances and her grandmother now runs a small grocery. Local program directors have even invited her grandparents to attend business and financial management trainings — building their business acumen and ability to save for the future.
Today, Champey is healthy and thriving thanks to the love of her family and the support of her generous sponsors. She loves to read and play with her friends after school. She also helps her grandmother with simple chores around the house and is respectful and friendly to elders in her community.
During an interview with a Pathways staff member, Champey’s grandmother shared that without the support of Holt sponsors and our partner in Cambodia, Champey would not be able to attend school on a regular basis. She is excited to see how hard her granddaughter works in school and that she passes all of her exams. And she is hopeful that Pathways and Holt will continue helping other children like her granddaughter to receive the education that could lift them out of poverty, and give them an equal chance in life.
Robin Munro | Managing Editor
* name changed