Ten-year-old Eang Eng eagerly opened the school bag he had just received at Lvea Primary School, located in a remote and impoverished district of central Cambodia. What he found inside made his eyes grow wide with excitement: notebooks, pens, pencils, a ruler, scissors, and more.
Like most children in rural Kampong Leaeng district beside the Tonle Sap River, Eang, a fifth grader, doesn't take his education for granted. He knows the uncertainties of living in a flood plain, the challenges of living where roads are scarce, and, with nine siblings, he understands his farmer parents' financial limitations.
The United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR) provided nearly 300 school kits to students of Eang's school. They were among more than 16,490 kits distributed to Cambodian students this year through UMCOR partner International Relief and Development (IRD).
Eang's classmate, Ban Ro, was equally enthusiastic when he peered inside his school kit. "My parents can't afford all the daily expenses of my studies, like notebooks and school bags. I love the school kit very much. My family will be very proud when I show it to them."
According to Cambodian government sources, in fiscal year 2015, 10.9 percent of primary school children in Kampong Leaeng District did not advance to the next grade and 5.36 percent dropped out of school, leaving the district literacy rate far below anticipated levels. Also, children skipped classes out of economic need or because their parents chose to migrate in search of work.
For these reasons, IRD targeted the distribution of UMCOR school kits among these vulnerable children who live in rural poverty. Each kit contained the necessary materials for a student to study for an entire year, enabling students not only to pursue their education but to do so at a lower cost to their parents.
UMCOR school kits are assembled by United Methodists and other people of good will, who gather the supplies, sew the schoolbags, and verify the contents at UMCOR relief-supply depots before shipping.
IRD delivered kits to students in 78 schools and one orphanage, all in Kampong Chhnang province. Lvea Primary School was one of the most remote. To reach it, you must travel first by ferry for two hours across the Tonle Sap River and then by motorcycle along mainly dirt roads. The long trip was clearly worthwhile.
Man Savart, a teacher, noted how happy the children looked as they waited anxiously for their turn to receive their kits. He said the kits were clearly a "way to motivate students to come to school confidently, without feeling shy because they do not have all the items they need for their studies."
Savart added, "I am thankful for UMCOR, which is keen to help us reduce school drop-out rates and the repetition of classes in our school."
Dam Tithiavan, International Relief and Development's logistics and commodity assistant
One of six churchwide Special Sundays with offerings of The United Methodist Church, UMCOR Sunday calls United Methodists to share the goodness of life with those who hurt. Your gifts to UMCOR Sunday lay the foundation for the United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR) to share God's love with communities everywhere. The special offering underwrites UMCOR's "costs of doing business." This helps UMCOR to keep the promise that 100 percent of any gift to a specific UMCOR project will go toward that project, not administrative costs.
When you give generously on UMCOR Sunday, you make a difference in the lives of people who hurt. Give now.