The small community of PREY THOM is located in Siem Reap Province, Cambodia, and comprises approximately 138 families with an average of 6-9 children per family spread across 7 villages.
The community has no running water, telephone, waste or sanitation systems. We are happy to say that electricity was recently connected (late 2013), however, many families have limited access to the supply because it is too costly. Houses are mostly constructed of palm-leaf or wooden slats, are not lockable or weatherproof. Generally one room in size, they are essentially used for sleeping and dressing. Cooking is done outside on open fires fuelled with charcoal and wood.
The local Primary School offers education from Grades 1 to 6 to children within the community, but access to that education is very much reliant on the economic circumstances of their families.
The majority of adults within the community have little or no education and are unable to read or write. This severely limits alternative prospects for higher-skilled employment. As a consequence, many mums and dads go away from the community daily, weekly and even months at a time to find unskilled labour positions - often in construction, in factories or on farms. Several families in this community have been separated from one or both parents, whose search for work has taken them into Thailand or further afield. These families can stay estranged for years at a time.
Many children do not attend school consistently because their families cannot afford to send them. In their struggle to survive, spare money to buy uniforms or learning materials is unavailable. Often the children are needed to help bring in income or look after younger siblings while the parents are at work. Government school programs are theoretically free, but teachers are severely underpaid and it has become common practice for students to 'top up' their wage by paying a daily fee - an added burden to struggling families.
The United Nations has identified education as a vital part of improving the long-term survival and viability of communities, reducing poverty and improving health and family planning.
For the Prey Thom Community, a major step in helping to build a stronger and sustainable social and economic structure and brighter future for generations to come is to support projects and programs that provide a safe and secure learning environment with proper resources and teaching programs in which their children can gain an education.
There is no industry in the area so families rely on 'subsistence' farming for their livelihoods. Crop production is limited due to a lack of farming knowledge, tools, growing materials and access to nearby water for irrigation. This makes it very difficult for many families to earn enough to meet basic living requirements.