The first time Ngeng stepped foot in a classroom he was 8 years old. Never before had he held a pencil, read a book, learnt to speak a word in the national language Khmer, or even written his own name. He had to resit the first grade twice because he didn’t speak the same language as the local teacher, and his parents struggled to help with his schooling as they are both illiterate themselves. Since he was 5 years old he has worked on soybean plantations, preparing the soil and collecting plants for his family’s pig to eat. Even our Cambodian Team commented on how hard these tasks are, especially for a child, and yet for children like Ngeng, this is all they have ever known.
When UWS built Pea village a school in 2014, they trained teachers from the Krun Tribe who spoke the same language as Ngeng, brought lots of books and games for the children to use, and gave him the support he needed to pass his Grade 1 exam. Although Ngeng still works on the farm before school every day, now he has reached Grade 4 and dreams of going to University to become a doctor for his village.
Our School Partnerships Associate, Susanna Worth, met Ngeng while supporting a school trip with students from RGS Guildford in July 2017. Ngeng attended all three days of the ‘summer school’ that RGS Guildford led, and said that his favourite part of the trip was getting to try new sports and games with the other pupils.
A huge thank you again to RGS Guildford for a thoroughly memorable trip.