Children in Cambodia start primary school when they are six years old. If they can afford to stay in school, primary school lasts for six years and then middle and high school are another three years each. Cambodia is still recovering from a time of intense terror, atrocity and war, and the long lasting effects are still evident everywhere. This is particular evident in the public schools where, even though they are free, poverty in the family often results in children leaving school at a very early age.

One of the current areas of concern is that children in rural communities often suffer from a lack of food and, as a result, also malnutrition. Food supply is directly dependent on the income of parents who are doing all they can to escape the poverty that they find themselves in. Many children are often sent to school simply in the hope they will receive an adequate meal that day through the school.

Of course, children can not learn effectively when they are hungry, let alone starving, so the schools need to find support from charity foundations and donors.

Some schools have their own rice fields which the children tend and harvest, but most schools do not even have this. The Adventurous Asia Foundation, with help from some NGOs, supply rice and canned fish to a few village schools, but it is not yet enough to provide adequate nutrition.

Things then continue to spiral out of control, as children begin to loose hope of a better life and others begin to sniff glue.

Adventurous Asia is particularly invested in the lives of children and schools, because of Vey's (the founder of Adventurous Asia) own difficult schooling experience. He acknowledges that education led him towards a responsible adult life and is a main reason for him establishing The Adventurous Asia Foundation. "Education will lead Cambodia's poor children of today towards being the responsible citizens of the future."

There is another side to the story however: never are such brave and hopeful children encountered as the village children of Cambodia. The enthusiasm they display at school is remarkable, given their often challenging life situations. When their school supplies, food and uniforms arrive, their happiness transcends language. When we hand them the things they need to attend school, and continue to support them and their efforts, we are handing them the freedom to imagine a life of opportunity, equality and social justice.

If you have been to Siem Reap, and especially to the surrounding countryside, you will know exactly what we are talking about. The people who have visited these rural and village schools have often left their hearts there - an unforgettable experience enhanced by the children's warmth, knowledge and energy. 

Copyright © 2010 Adventurous Asia Travel