I had an extensive visit with Life & Hope Association yesterday.
L&HA has two main programs. PAGE: Program for Advancing Girls Education and Sewing.
PAGE: Under this program the Monks, headed by the Venerable Lorm Loeurm, support a high school education for 28 carefully selected, marginalized girls from remote villages. Their plan to expand to 35 girls next year and to reach a total of 50 by 2019. The girls are provided with safe housing, nourishing food, all education costs for government schools, and life-skills coaching.
Sewing: With this program the Monks provide a 10-month long training program for impoverished women to learn sewing. Once they graduate, with a sewing machine of their very own, they are able to sustainably provide for themselves and their families.
After an engaging conversation at their offices in the Wat (temple) we headed out on a motorbike to visit their newly expanding facility about 5 km. out in the countryside.
This is an impressive place with substantial, fully funded construction underway. When the new building is completed in March of 2017 it will provide safe living quarters for 30 women in their sewing program. Already finished is a major refurbishment of the building housing up to 35 girls in their PAGE program. In addition, they have a newly constructed kitchen and dining hall. A fourth building provides a nice library and study room.
When I asked about their current needs they were quick to reply with specifics.
For the Sewing Program they need new machines. Those currently in use were purchased in 2006 and are now approaching the end of their useful life. New machines cost $220. A one-time donation of $6,600 will replace all the current machines and set them up for another 10 years of successfully training impoverished women to become self-sustaining.
For PAGE they need auxiliary education for the girls in Grade 12. Here’s the background on that need:
Just this past year, the Ministry of Education has completely revised their National Examinations which students are required to take upon completion of high school. The tests are much more difficult now, with passing rates falling markedly. Without a passing grade, students are not eligible for university or other opportunities for advanced education and training. Thus, passing becomes a priority. Last year, in spite of best efforts, only about two-thirds of the PAGE girls were able to pass.
Meanwhile, nothing has changed with the curriculum in government schools or the manner in which that curriculum is taught. Help is needed so that 100% of the PAGE girls can pass those newly instituted, more challenging exams.
Given the inadequacy of Cambodian government schools, the solution to this is extra tutoring – at least for the Grade 12 girls. Skilled tutors are available, but their use in the past has been quite limited because there was very little budget for that extra teaching. Here’s what is really needed.
One tutor will provide one hour of teaching one subject five days per week for $150 per month. There are five subjects to be covered: Mathematics, Chemistry, Biology, Philosophy, and Khmer Literature.
5 subjects at $150 per month for 10 months amounts to $7,500. The Director believes that with a full program like this the tutoring fees could be negotiated to a discounted rate of $120 per month thereby reducing the total annual cost to $6,000.
One Last Need: I mentioned that the building housing up to 35 girls in the PAGE program has been completely refurbished. I personally saw that work at about 98% complete. Well done to say the least. However, there was not enough money to replace the roof on this old building and stop the leaks into the upstairs sleeping rooms. If we can raise a mere $1,500 right now the roof replacement can be included in the current construction program and put this building into top flight condition for years to come.
Summary of Needs:
- Replace 30 sewing machines: $6,600
- One year of Grade 12 tutoring: $6,000
- Replace the girls dorm roof: $1,500
Here are some photos of this developing property: