Mai Por Kim

GATE Phnom Penh – Rice Support and scholarship
Interview with Mai Por Kim and her mother. Kim is 16 years of age in grade 10 at Chbaa Ampov, High School in Phnom Penh.

How long have you been in the program? What does it provide you?
I’ve been in the program 3 years. I get uniform, shoes, school bag, school supplies, bicycle and Rice Support.
I also receive $4 a month to support daily expenses at school and I spend $2.5 of that for tuition. In this new academic year I may not be able toafford monthly tuition of $10 for physics, $7.5 for mathematics and $7.5 for Khmer literature, especially as the teacher won’t take fees on daily basis.

How you like school? What do you like about school? Is it education important?
Education is very important. When I go to school I learn a lot about society and what is happening in the society. We learn about health, diseases and how they are transmitted, how to avoid getting sick. I really love going to school.

What is your favorite subject?
Khmer literature?

How does help from the program ensure you can continue to attend school?
Its very helpful for me, we get the uniforms, stipend and study materials twice a year, it lightens the burden on my mother. Program officers also visit time to time to encourage me to continue my studies.

Question to mother: Please tell us about your family situation?
I have 8 children. I work as labor, packaging burned rice for a living. I can earn around $2.50 a day. My husband also does the same and can earn the same. (Altogether $5 per day between us)

Do you think education is important?
Yes! Yes! I feel education is very important to ensure a better future for my children and that’s why I’ve been struggling for them and their education.

What are the daily school expenses? How many children do you send to school?
Por Kim is the oldest. I have four boys and four girls. All the boys are out of school while three of our girls attend school. We give some 40cents per day for school to the smaller kids and if we have money, we will give 50 cents to Por Kim, but mostly we don’t have money for her.

How much schooling are you planning to finish? What do you plan for the future, what is your dream?
I want to continue my study as long as possible and until I complete University. When I finish I want to become a Policewoman.” Kim then tells us with a downcast look… “But I’m not sure I will be able to finish…” We then encourage her, telling her there are tertiary programs to help support her at University and that she only has to stay the course with her schooling and though they are struggling, she will survive.

Could you tell us about the impact of rice support? Is it helpful?
[This is where we all get teary…]
We are receiving 50kgs of rice per month for 12 months in this year – though we haven’ received December as yet as it arrives middle of the month.

Both Kim and her mother told us 50kgs only lasts the family around 13 days – “We cook 4.5kg (8 cups) once a day and eat that rice the entire day. Kim’s mum and Dad work from 6am to 8pm every day. To underscore their plight and struggle to survive Kim’s mother tells us. “We pay $25 a month to rent our house, we pay 40cents per KW for electricity, which is twice the state rate and have to buy rice in dribs and drabs which is of course, more expensive.”

“Before we got help from the program, sometimes we had nothing to eat for 8 to 10 days in a month. Nowadays we only have to buy 50kgs of rice a month.” Having rice support equals the cost of both breadwinners working an entire week from 6am to 8pm! So it’s a huge help on a monthly basis.

Mother – “Normally I can only buy rice and fire wood after work and today I am here with you … its already 2.15pm and the children haven’t eaten. 3.5 hours late… We don’t have any rice to cook?”

We then arranged for some rice to be bought from a nearby grocer and then videoed Por Kim and her mum in their humble kitchen preparing their lunch.

As a parting note, Por Kim tells us with tears welling in her eyes, “For all that we have received, I want to thank Lotus Outreach Australia from the bottom of my heart!!”