CEDF – OpCam is a Cambodian charity registered with the Ministry of the Interior in agreement with the Social Affairs Department. Opportunity Cambodia, an Australian NGO*, partners with CEDF – OpCam and provides its funding and overall guidance.
About 2007 Opportunity Cambodia opened an Education Centre in rural Anlong Samnar Commune. Today, general manager Youchheng Uch (Chheng), and founder, Carolyn Fletcher, continue to run the CEDF-OpCam program educating over 50 children from the 16 surrounding villages (comprising 2,800 families), 42 of whom attend local primary and secondary schools (26 girls and 16 boys), and a further 12 are now at high school in Siem Reap.
This is a desperately poor region of Cambodia with very little help available from either the government or from other NGOs. The national average earnings in remote Cambodian villages is reported to be around $2.00/day. Here, with relatively little land available for agriculture, the average is said to be even lower, perhaps closer to $1.00/day. Jobs are few. Water and electricity availability is limited. Four to five children per family is the norm in this region. Eight or nine is not uncommon.
The average cost of supporting a child through their education is $1,000 per year. Quite a bargain, I think, to give these kids an opportunity for a better life. Their goal is to add an additional 25 kids to their program as soon as funding can be arranged.
In 2015 CEDF-OpCam established a facility in Siem Reap to enable their students, who have completed year 9 at the local school, to do their high school years 10-12 in the city. Teaching in rural schools is poor and it was felt that attending a good quality city high school would give the kids the best chance of successfully competing with the city students for places at college and vocational training. These students receive all the same benefits as the kids at the rural Centre.
CEDF – OpCam is currently raising funds for their first ever pre-school in the region. Land has been purchased in one of the poorest villages – Prek Angkor. A Malaysian donor has already funded the construction of the building. Still needed, however, is funding to provide the furnishings for the building and one teacher. The budget for that is $2,500, including a teacher at a salary of about $120 per month.
CEDF- OpCam has recently initiated some important community development work by introducing animal raising projects in these very poor villages. Their pilot project involves careful selection, effective training and ongoing support for 10 families, each of which has received a pig. Once they learn how to care for their animal, and realize the economic benefits it can provide, they will have the opportunity to expand their animal raising capacity. All this is being done with sustainability in mind with a portion of the baby animals produced returned to CEDF – OpCam for further distribution to other families.
There seems to be relatively little incidence of human trafficking in this region, but vigilance is always necessary. As CEDF-OpCam is able to expand their outreach into the villages, this is certainly one of the important issues on the agenda along with health, hygiene, domestic violence, sanitation, and the like.
We would love to find some donors interested in supporting the fine work being done here in these remote villages.
- Complete the pre-school and provide a teacher for the first year: $2,500
- Expand the animal program from 10 to 20 families: $2,000
- Increase the number of children receiving this precious education: $1,000 per child
* Non-Governmental Organization