LotusRelief In Cambodia
GATE and CATALYST
Did you know we have 262 GATE scholarship girls in grades 7-12 in Cambodia? 200 of them are in grade 7 this year and 62 are in grades 10-12. In addition, 56 university scholars are supported through CATALYST which is run by our very own LO Cambodia team.
When the government in Cambodia closed schools in March, GATE and CATALYST scholars left their city dwellings and travelled home to stay with their families. The government quickly moved all high school education online and certain university level institutions have followed suit.
Scholarship girls spent the end of March and all of April at home, which wasn’t uncommon due to the regular holiday break celebrating the new year in mid April. However, they are beginning to miss the independence of their student lives!
The primary risk this crisis poses is that our scholarship girls will drop out due to the lack of structure and access causing them to lose focus and become discouraged. Fortunately, we are utterly thrilled by the commitment of our LOCAM team, Program Director, Raksmey Var, and Project Officer, Pisey Chea. They are full-heartedly engaging this moment to ensure every girl stays supported and on track.
Raksmey and Pisey are closely monitoring all CATALYST scholars and GATE students in grade 12 while staying in close contact and providing essential psychological support. Although connectivity issues come up Raksmey and Pisey see to it that no girl is out of touch for more than a few days.
- Monthly CATALYST meetings have been shifted to be online video calls. The girls continue to write daily journals and stay in contact with one another through Facebook and WhatsApp groups.
- We have provided three cell phones to CATALYST girls in need of internet access for school
- LOCAM spontaneously came up with an innovative daily online English language class for all 56 CATALYST scholars. The girls are divided into their language learning levels and every morning they receive an assignment to complete by the end of the day. We have 90% participation!
- Students are engaged with online learning as they are able and continuing their studies from at home materials. CATALYST Year 3 girls are continuing group projects while Year 4 students are working on thesis’ (in a few cases thesis research is suspended).
- Raksmey is closely monitoring all GATE girls in grade 12 who are particularly vulnerable to drop out. This group is largely supported by LO Australia. Students are engaged with online learning, self and group study.
- Year 12 GATE students supported by LOA are divided into Facebook groups for each school and assigned a group leader who manages every students’ daily report that summarizes their online, self, or group study. They are building leadership skills and enjoy the responsibility of looking out for one another in this way. They support and encourage one another.
While the LOCAM budget covers most of this activity, we are requesting LotusRelief support for three phones that were given to three CATALYST girls in need of internet access for online education. While the government has shifted classes online there many factors that contribute to lack of access including insufficient signals for our rural scholars.
Nonetheless, GATE and CATALYST girls are engaged with self and group study. Ramskey reported modestly, “When we call them, it helps encourage them to focus on their studies.”
We are so moved by the dedication of every scholarship recipient. We hear that first year CATALYST girls are anxious to get back to school while 3rd and 4th year girls are wondering when they can graduate. The girls miss living in the new CATALYST residential home Raksmey said that they can’t wait to be back together going to school.
In addition to the three phones we are providing LOA also provided two phones to GATE students for a total of five phones.
They are driven to give back during this uncertain time. Thank you so much for being a part of their journey.
Rice 4 Education
Our partners continue to deliver rice support to GATE and CATALYST students and their families. Families of GATE students receive 50kg per family per month while CATALYST girls receive 15kg per month. For these families rice is life saving nutritional support that helps ensure they stay committed to their girl childrens’ education.
Integrated Rural Development (IRD) with Santi Sena
Our partner in rural development, Santi Sena, is recognized by the Cambodian government for their leadership in sanitation and hygiene across the Cambodian province of Svey Rieng. As such, they have been able to initiate work on our new program, Integrated Rural Development (IRD), without delay in the face of COVID-19. Santi Sena has provided us an adapted plan which includes extra costs in the budget for COVID-19 materials and the response plan. They have begun working with poor farmers and local authorities providing hygiene and health advocacy, COVID-education, soap, and home fumigation materials. They wear masks for all of their work and follow physical distancing protocols. The program is also providing agricultural support, giving seeds and advising farmers what to grow to ensure maximum returns, serve local cooperative demand, and improve crop outcomes.
Consoling Through Counseling and Reintegration (CTC)
The Consoling Through Counseling and Reintegration safe shelter in Bantey Meanchey continues to run and all survivors remain in residence with therapists and skill-training mentors. Learn more about CTC.