April is a deeply meaningful month for me, inviting a new season (Spring), signifying another trip around the sun (my birthday) and for Cambodians, Chnam Thmey (Khmer Lunar New Year). This year, as we approach one of my favourite months of the year, the COVID-19 pandemic has embraced our world in chaos and uncertainty — I am bothered.
Take that moment when something bothers you. Don’t let it fade and see what happens. (Jamie Amelio, Founder, Caring for Cambodia)
My relationship with Caring for Cambodia (CFC) began during a trip in high school in 2010. Through my own professional and academic pursuits in international development, my involvement with CFC, first as treasurer for its high school chapter and later as its UN Youth Representative, has steadfastly reminded me of the value of community as a tenet of public service.
Caring for Cambodia was established in 2003 in order to assure that present and future generations of Cambodia, a country rich in culture, history, and beauty, would be granted the right to a world class education.
Today, our 21 schools have educated close to 7000 children from grades K-12, employing 300 faculty and staff, and running over 9 programmes from gender equality to English as a Second Language (ESL) to ICT/STEM. Our successes have been in large part thanks to an incredible international community of volunteers and supporters.
Unfortunately, in order to prioritise the safety and well-being of our students, CFC schools, like schools worldwide, have had to close their doors as a result of COVID-19.
And as I remain bothered with the state of this pandemic, I am reminded ever so clearly of our collective responsibility to our communities: to care endlessly and ensure that no one is left behind.
So, this year, I choose to dedicate the journey to April and beyond to celebrating the values at the heart of Khmer New Year: community, generosity, and empathy.
As you and your families practice physical distancing to counter this virus, here are three ways how you can help me in #CaringForCommunity. Please note the amounts below are merely suggested donations, we are grateful for your thoughts, love, and consideration. If you would like to support our community, here is the donation link.
- Technology (Donate USD 120 or USD 240): With schools in Cambodia closed for the foreseeable future due to concerns around virus transmission, our students are unable to learn in the classroom. As a result, our teachers are working tirelessly to employ a rich online curriculum for students to continue to learn.While 16 years of sustained teacher training means that our teacher-leaders are prepared with the skills to meet this challenge, they lack the technology resources to implement them. In order to enable our teachers to continue delivering a high-quality education and for our students to participate in the online classroom, we would like to provide them with a SIM-enabled Chromebook (approximately USD 240) or an Android tablet (approximately USD 120) to participate in the online classroom.
- WaSH (Donate USD 25–100): A key pillar of our programme over the years has been to install robust water and sanitation (WaSH) facilities across our campuses. At a time when personal hygiene and cleanliness (see World Health organisation guidelines here), are ever so important, we are committed to supporting our CFC families in their efforts to remain healthy. For a family of four people, it could cost anywhere between USD 50 and USD 100 to supply essential items like sanitizer. With this gift, we will also prepare to upgrade our existing WaSH campus facilities in the months to come.
- Teacher Livelihoods (Donate USD 50–500): CFC’s teachers and faculty play a central role in assuring our schools remain functioning, sustainable, and empowering for our students. Teachers are working day and night to ensure that a lack of a physical classroom will not compromise students’ daily learning. While the Cambodian Ministry provides support to fund our teachers’ livelihoods, the pandemic presents a degree of financial uncertainty. Any amount you can donate to buffer and support their financial future will be put to positive use.
Caring for Cambodia will strive for these donations to support the area of your choosing, but as this situation rapidly changes, please provide them the opportunity to use these funds where they are the most needed.
Whether you can donate or not (although I hope you can) we would be grateful if you follow us, tag us and share this campaign on your social media channels: Facebook , Twitter, LinkedIn and Instagram.
As we say at Caring for Cambodia: get bothered and stay bothered.
All my love,
Sharmishta (Mishti) Sivaramakrishnan