Miss Lynch – a teacher’s experience in Cambodia

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Introducing Miss Lynch
My name is Miss Lynch and I have been a school teacher for twelve years. I have taught children of all ages, from nursery up to year six and have worked in leadership for several years. I am very passionate about supporting all children to achieve their full and individual potential, through a creative, challenging and enjoyable curriculum tailored to meet the specific needs of unique characters in a safe, stimulating and happy environment.

I read about Edukid in an NUT magazine and thought it sounded like an interesting and very worthwhile charity. I decided it would be a great opportunity to visit Cambodia and see how education there differs; a chance to offer my support to the charity, and to enable me to teach children in England about different cultures and the challenges faced by children growing up in poverty.

The trip far exceeded my expectations! I met an amazing group of genuine and kind-hearted people in the delegation, made great new friends and above all was introduced to many humble, welcoming, determined Cambodian families who wholeheartedly deserve our support in giving their children a brighter future.

Communities Supporting Communities

Cambodian people don’t ask for money and don’t expect it, but with just a little they have the enthusiasm and drive to achieve a great deal. We visited the village of Srey Da, an employee of Edukid and CFC, Edukid’s partner charity in Cambodia. This village was, for me, a great example of how the Cambodian people have taken a little help and used it to benefit whole communities.

Twelve years ago, Srey Da’s slum in Cambodia’s capital, Phnom Penh, was burnt to the ground and the whole settlement was relocated to an empty area of land on the outskirts of the city. Each family was allotted a small area of land with a few pieces of corrugated iron on. They had no shelter and lived in makeshift homes, with no amenities close by. There was no water, no sewerage, let alone schools, medical centres, hospitals or shops.

Yet when we visited this urban village, it was clear that with the determination and hard work of a whole community, so much can be achieved! I was amazed to see that they now have established markets, schools, and a medical clinic set up by one of Edukid’s sponsored students. But most memorable for me was what Srey Da, Edukid and CFC have achieved here. How many 14 year olds do you know would invite children (on the streets collecting rubbish to sell) into their home and choose to teach them, cut their nails, wash their hair and give them the hope for a better future as Srey Da did? With help from Edukid and CFC, there are now 4 supplementary classes running here each day for children of all ages, led by young students who have been supported through the project themselves. A community supporting the community to strive for a better future is a truly selfless and inspirational act of kindness.

Just like Christmas Day

On our visit to the rural villages, I was amazed to see how overwhelmed the children were on our arrival and how excited they were to play with the simplest of games; bubbles, footballs, Frisbees, loom bands…… they played for hours.

Although school in Cambodia is free, many children are too poor to go and their family cannot afford the resources, such as uniforms and equipment, they need. Watching a Cambodian child receive a school bag from Edukid containing a uniform, books and stationary which enables them to go to school was like watching an English child opening their presents on Christmas morning! The excitement and hope in their eyes bought tears to mine and is the reason I want to do more to help.

becky4Even those children lucky to go to school are only able to attend for half a day due to a huge shortage of teachers, an ongoing legacy of the terrible Khmer Rouge regime. Each of the villages supported by Edukid is funded to offer additional schooling in their community, which helps to reduce drop-out rates and makes sure that the children get much better than average grades.

Resources in Cambodian Classrooms

The resources and classrooms were one of the most shocking things for me. For every teacher (like me) that has complained about the iPads, tablets, projector or screen playing up or someone else using the maths equipment you so desperately need………please consider this: in the schools I visited there were no resources in class. No felt tip pens for children to argue over, no paper to waste on too many copies at the printer, no camera to run out of battery just when you need it, no PE equipment to forget to put back, no art equipment to untidy the cupboard and no books to be discarded on the floor of the reading corner.

The classrooms were hot and humid, simple wooden rooms with benches for seating and a few old posters kindly donated. Children often cycle to school on an old family bicycle with their younger siblings in tow, or walk (wearing just flip flops) through the rubbish, water and rice fields…… some (as Sineth did) travelling 6km each way! Imagine teaching these determined children in such a classroom with just one old, warped and stained board at the front of class and a pen that can barely be seen, yet having the same passion for a child’s education as the Cambodia teachers I met have!

What I’m doing now…

• Events to raise money to build a new classroom to enable more children to receive a better education.
• Sponsoring a child to receive the school pack and supplementary education to support the half day received in government schools (if they are even able to go!).
• Creating a resource pack for teachers to use in school to educate our children on the issues many children living in poverty face. I genuinely enjoy producing lesson plans and making teaching resources so I feel really privileged to be able to do something I love for such a worthwhile cause.

Despite a horrific and very recent history, Cambodian people have what many people in the developed world sadly lack……they have hope, positivity and the determination to work hard for a brighter future. With our help they can achieve that!