From Drop-Out to Role Model

How a young girl is transforming her community's future

If you knew Raksey before she began teaching, you would barely recognize the smiling, confident 17-year-old girl who now spends her free time helping children learn to read and write.

When FH Cambodia first partnered with the Tuek Lich community, Raksey’s family had immigrated to Thailand in search of work, leaving Raksey to take care of her young siblings.

Being young and living apart from her parents left her longing for the warmth of her family.

“Before FH started to partner with my community,” she recalls, “my family lived in a situation of vulnerability because we did not have a specific source of income. My parents did not understand the importance of my education, and my studies were not good because I did not pay attention in class.”

Lacking mentors or friendships with her classmates, Raksey couldn’t see her own potential.

“I wouldn’t dare to express my ideas and I never dreamed for myself about what I wanted to do in the future," she remembers. "Meanwhile, my parents were migrating to Thailand so I wasn’t courageous enough to continue school.”

Looking around in her community, she saw disease and sickness from poor hygiene, and she worried about how many of her fellow peers dropped out of school, including herself.

In 2014, Raksey was sponsored by a Canadian. As part of the child sponsorship program, FH Cambodia staff began visiting her home, encouraging her and helping her build relationships with her classmates and other children in the village.

Raksey, far left, and her siblings at their home.

“They taught me the value of studying, hygiene and health care, and working as a community,” she says. As Raksey began to see how important it was to study at school and at home, her grades began improving. 

FH staff always encourage me to persevere, to be patient, and to be willing to dedicate my personal time to help other children,” she says. 

She realized how many doors education could open, knowing that education will help her find a good job so she can support her family in the future. With encouragement and people to cheer her on, Raksey began to blossom.

Now, when she is done with her household chores and taking care of her younger sister and brother, she spends her free time volunteering to teach other children at their local children’s club. Where once her own grades were slipping, she now teaches numeracy and literacy to children struggling with their schoolwork. 

Raksey helps children who struggle with learning to improve their literacy and numeracy skills.

FH Cambodia creates children’s clubs to help promote after school learning opportunities for children to improve their literacy and numeracy. The impact of the clubs are threefold: they promote the value of education with the support of the community; provide access to school supplies for children who can’t afford their own; and create a safe place for children to make friends and improve their social-emotional development.

In Raksey’s community, 31 children and volunteer teachers, including Raksey, participate in creating and decorating the children’s clubs. The children’s excitement is tangible! But her participation in the children’s clubs hasn’t only benefited the children, Raksey asserts.

Raksey teaches a group of children.

“I learned how to be brave and have self-confidence, which is powerful to encourage me to achieve my personal goals in developing myself, my family, and my community.”

Looking at her now, Raksey has transformed into an exemplary student and selfless leader. Laughter erupts from her classroom under the trees—she not only teaches them to count and read, but has become the joyful role model she longed for when she was their age. 

Raksey boldly presents her ideas to the FH Cambodia Svay Leu office at an annual youth reflection meeting.

Today, Raksey is full of hope for her future: for her family to reunite and her community to be united in their pursuit of development. 

“More importantly,” she says with a smile, “I hope that all children in my community can go to school together for the betterment of our community development.”

“I want to be a teacher to share my knowledge to other children in my village and help all slow learners to improve their reading, writing, and mathematics so that [we can increase] our human resources in our society, and my country will graduate from poverty together.”

To Raksey, every moment she gives to teaching children is her contribution to her community’s future.

Want to support children’s clubs in Cambodia like Rakseys? Help stock a children’s club with quality books that will unlock a world of possibilities by purchasing Story Books from the Gifts for Change Gift Guide.

Raksey helps teach children math.

Story collected by Ann Sophart and written by Tatum Bergen



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Food for the Hungry: From Drop-Out to Role Model
From Drop-Out to Role Model
In Cambodia, a young girl is transforming her community's future by volunteering to teach young children literacy and numeracy skills.
Food for the Hungry
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