Newsletter Fall 2016       
A Note from Bill and Nancy

This issue of our newsletter is devoted to our favorite subject: the Reach for the Sky scholarship program. Started in 2010, we have awarded a total of 32 scholarships. Four students have graduated from college, 27 are still in school (12 in college, 15 in high school) and 1 student dropped out and is working in Thailand. In the beginning, the program was just for girls, but this year we added our first scholarship boy. Students are in grades 7 through the 4th year of college. It is a joy to watch the students grow up and graduate

from college, especially since none of the students could have continued their education without financial help.

Scholarship Girls
Timothy Sykes Scholarship House

Tim Sykes is a major supporter of the Cambodian Village Fund. He generously donated money for a school and matched donations from our Anniversary Fund Drive in September. To acknowledge his support, we named the house where our scholarship girls live in Battambang the “Timothy Sykes Scholarship House”. Fifteen scholarship girls live in the house.

Timothy Sykes House Timothy Sykes House
Sary and Sreysith Start College

Sary and Sreysith joined our scholarship program when it first started in 2010. They were best friends and in the 7th grade. This year these 2 best friends completed high school, passed the high school exit exam and enrolled in college. This is a huge accomplishment for them. They were both raised by single mothers who struggle to provide for their families. We asked each girl what going to college means to them.

Sreysith and Sary
Sreysith (l) and Sary with their new laptops

I am both excited and anxious about going to college. It is stressful thinking about my academic responsibilities and meeting new people. I lose sleep, but I’m not scared. I’m going to Build Bright University. I want to study tourism. My family and relatives wanted me to become a banker or a policeman. They said these are good jobs that pay well, but I want to work in hospitality management, tourism management or be a tour guide. My dream is to travel around the world, especially to the U.S.A. I also dream of opening my own business.

I’m the first one in my family to get a high school diploma. Two of my brothers only completed primary school and one finished 7th grade. They are very proud of me and happy to see me study at university. I could not have achieved this without financial support from the Cambodian Village Fund.
Sary and Sreysith
Sary (l) and Sreysith at Build Bright University

Finishing high school was very important for me. My biggest challenge was to go to university, so I studied hard and took extra classes outside of school. I’m very happy to be going to Build Bright University. I want to become a teacher so I can help children learn and accomplish their dreams.

My long term goal is to earn enough money to help my family have a better life. My mother and sister are very proud of me for going to university. I’m the first in my family to graduate from high school. My older sister dropped out of school because my family couldn’t support her. Now she’s married and has a baby. With a university degree it will be easier for me to find a job.

Rany Becomes a Teacher
Introduction by Bill and Nancy

Nineteen-year old Rany is a certified primary school teacher. She completed her 2-year teacher training program last summer and began teaching in November. Rany joined the Reach for the Sky program when she was in the 12th grade. She scored in the top 1% of all Cambodian 12th graders on her high school exit exam. Because of her high score, she received a scholarship from the government to attend the Regional Teacher Training Center in Battambang. While Rany was working on her teacher certification, she began work on her Bachelor’s degree in English Literature. She is now in her third year. Rany’s journey to becoming a teacher before she turns 20 is amazing. We asked her to tell us her thoughts.

Why I Became a Teacher
by Thai Rany

Being a teacher is not easy. A teacher needs to be trained and well-prepared at all times. So why did I want to become a teacher?

I wanted to be a teacher since I was young so I could share my knowledge with children. Students are like a blank piece of paper: if we teach them properly they will learn and improve themselves. If not, they will not learn or may even quit school. Teachers must be the best because their students will follow them.

I’m so glad that I’m teaching pre-school because I really love the small students. I teach them math, science, Khmer literature and songs. I teach at Kompong Chamlong Kandal primary school in Kamrieng District, near the border with Thailand, far away from my hometown. I decided to teach here because there aren’t enough teachers in the countryside.

I’m continuing to study for my Bachelor’s degree at Build Bright University in Battambang. Each Friday I ride my motorbike 80 kilometers (50 miles) to Battambang to take classes on the weekend. It’s difficult, but I want to finish my Bachelor’s degree. In 2 more years, when I have my degree, I will take the exam to become a high school teacher. Education is the most important thing in my life, because once I have it no one can take it away from me.

I’m the first in my family to go to college. Two of my older brothers, and one of my older sisters finished high school, but my parents didn’t have money to send them to university. Another sister dropped out of school in grade 12 because my family was so poor. She works in a casino in Poipet. Neither of my parents finished high school, but my father writes well and is a good problem solver in the village.

The Reach for the Sky program has been very helpful, because the older scholarship girls explained things to me and shared their experiences with me. I’m glad that I’m a teacher because I can share my knowledge. This experience will help me during my whole life. Also teachers are respected and we look professional in our uniforms. And the parents are very happy that we teach their children.
Rany at her Desk

Rany by School

Rany with Students
New Scholarship Girls—Sreynoch, Sopheap and Mey Mey

We accepted three new college students in our Reach for the Sky scholarship program. All three are recent graduates of Sangker High School. They are excellent students who overcame adversity to graduate from high school. None of them was able to continue to college without financial aid. We were able to offer scholarships to these girls because of a generous donation from the Gendercide Awareness Project.
Mey Mey
19-year old Mey Mey is the 3rd daughter in a family of 4 children. Her parents are farmers. They are older and in poor health and earn very little money. They live 16 kilometers (10 miles) from the high school. Everyday Mey Mey got up early for the long bike ride over very difficult roads to get to school. In spite of the adversity, Mey Mey ranked 6th out of 48 students in her 12th grade class, passed the high school exit exam and graduated. She received a scholarship to study banking and finance at the University of Battambang, but did not have money for room, board, books, uniforms or food. With some financial help Mey Mey is now enrolled in college.
Mey Mey
Mey Mey at University of Battambang
Sreinoch at University of Battambang
Sreinoch comes from a very poor family. When she was 3, her father was injured, when a tree fell on him. He is bedridden and can’t work or even feed himself. Sreinoch’s mother and sisters take care of him. Sreinoch’s mother, who also has health problems, is the sole breadwinner for the family, earning money farming a small rice field and selling food along the road. Sreinoch ranked 4th out of 48 students in her 12th grade class. She wants to go to university so she can get a good job and support her family. but she doesn’t have the money. With financial support Sreinoch is now a freshman studying accounting at the University of Battambang.
In July Sopheap graduated from Sanker High School. She ranked 3rd overall in her 12th grade class (out of 48 students) and 1st in philosophy, physics and math. Her family situation is very difficult. Her father lost a leg in the war and can’t find a good job. Her mother works in the rice fields and on a chicken farm. Sopheap’s 4 older sisters dropped out of school in the 3rd or 4th grade. Her parents are starting a business repairing bikes and motorbikes, but often bring home as little as $1.25 per day. Sopheap is motivated to get a college education so she can help her family, but also “help poor children and improve my country.” She was offered a partial scholarship from the University of Management and Economics in Battambang, but did not have money for room, board, books and uniforms until she received some financial aid.
Sothea, our first scholarship boy
Sothea and Parents
Sothea, with his parents
Our First Scholarship Boy
Until a few months ago our scholarship program was just for girls. Why girls? Partly because girls in Cambodia, like many other parts of the world, get the short end of the stick. When a family has to choose between sending a son or a daughter to school, they often choose the son. Also, studies show that investing in girls’ education has a very high return. Economist Lawrence Summers said, "Investment in girls' education may well be the highest-return investment available in the developing world." Not only does the educated girl benefit, but her family, her children and her community also benefit. So why did we add a boy?

We know that there are many boys in Cambodia who have amazing potential, but lack resources to continue their education. We thought we’d experiment to see if boys can fit into our scholarship program. Our first boy is Sothea, a 12th grader who comes from a poor farming family. We met Sothea earlier this year, first on Facebook and then in person when we were in Cambodia in January. We visited his house and met his parents. Sothea is an excellent student, ranking 4th in his 11th grade class. He wants to go to college and become a doctor.

Adding a boy to our scholarship program involved a few challenges. Most difficult was finding a place for him to live in Battambang. He couldn’t live in the house with the girls so he had to find an apartment and a roommate. Also, he couldn’t eat with our scholarship girls, who prepare communal meals. So Sothea and his roommate have to cook their own meals. Fortunately, Sothea’s mother had taught him how to cook, and as far as we know he hasn’t lost any weight since moving away from home. He is a really nice, hardworking boy and we know he will do well.
How You Can Become a Sponsor.

Most of the money to pay for the Reach for the Sky program comes from sponsors. For girls still living with their parents, the money from sponsors pays for a new bicycle, school uniforms, books, school supplies and a monthly allowance. We rent a house in Battambang for the older girls (11th grade and above). We pay rent, electricity, water, WIFI, computer, printer, paper and ink, groceries, school uniforms, books, school supplies, tuition for college girls, extra classes for high school students, monthly allowance and English classes. We also provide dental and eye care for all the students. Our total cost for the Reach for the Sky program this year is about $36,000 or about $1,200 per student. Quite a bargain when you think about it--$1,200 per year to not only change the life of the student, but also their families, their village and their country.

We need more sponsors. A base level of support is $300 per year, or $25 per month. Some sponsors pay the entire cost of “their” student.

What are the benefits to the sponsors? The primary benefit is knowing that you are changing a life by helping a child stay in school and get an education. Sponsors also get updates about their students, including progress reports in school and photos. Sponsors can also become Facebook friends or exchange emails with their student. Many of our sponsors have traveled with us to Cambodia to meet their student. All of the scholarship students speak English.
Cameron and Kids
Cameron and friends

Signing up to become a sponsor is easy. Go to the Scholarship page on the Cambodian Village Fund website. Click “Donate” to make a one-time donation, or “Recurring Donation” to make a monthly, quarterly, or yearly donation. Your tax-deductible donation will be charged to your credit card or, if you prefer, your PayPal account.

Jennifer and Souerth
Jennifer and Souerth
Mimi and Rany
Mimi and Rany
Thank You for Your Support

Our work is made possible by donations from friends and supporters. We promise to get the most from your donations, with 99.1 % of revenue going to Cambodia. We keep our administrative expenses low because we do most of the administration ourselves, including writing newsletters, maintaining the website, managing finances and accounting. We do this at no cost to the Cambodian Village Fund. If you are able to help, we will put your support to good use. And remember, in Cambodia a little goes a long way.

Donate on our website paying by credit card or PayPal. Or send us a check.

The Cambodian Village Fund
c/o Bill and Nancy Bamberger
4376 Argos Drive
San Diego, CA 92116-2330
Sreynav and Parents

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