Cambodia

Profile picture of Dyna, a young Cambodian student that received a scholarship from CWEF to study accounting at the university

A Bright and Bankable Future: Becoming a Money Expert

Dyna, a Cambodian teenager, dreamed of having a stable job as a banker. She wanted a wide range of professional opportunities. In order to fulfill this dream, she began studying accounting at a university in the city. But now…not far into her studies…she struggled with whether or not she should continue.

Her father had served God as a pastor for almost thirty years in Cambodia where they live; and during those years, his income was irregular and unpredictable. Because of the irregular income, he had to take out loans which he then struggled to pay off completely. Because of her family’s debt, Dyna’s family could not pay her school fees or support her life in the city where she studied. Dyna saw that whenever she needed money to pay for tuition or buy school supplies or just pay for life in the city itself, it all increased the heavy financial burden on her parents. Should she continue to study when it would put so much stress on her family? “But,” Dyna says, “the whole time God never forgot me.”

Singing at church

At this point, Dyna got connected to CWEF. After completing the application and interview process, she was eventually selected to receive a university scholarship. This would allow her to continue pursuing her accounting degree!! In addition to the scholarship, Dyna also found a Christian dormitory where she lived for the beginning of college.

Dyna says:

“The faith that I have in God has helped me a lot in my life and my living…without God, I also wouldn’t be here.”

I’d like to thank my scholarship donor because if I didn’t have the scholarship to support me, I wouldn’t be able to study here because we don’t have enough money to study; and we’d also have to spend a lot of money on school fees, textbooks, and other expenses. That is hard for me. Without the donor who gave me my scholarship, my life after 12th grade may have beeen uncertain. I may have found a random job to do. Studying at university is very important. After finishing grade 12, I don’t know what (marketable) skills I would have had.”

Dyna volunteers her time teaching English and Khmer at her church and also teaching math to children. Someday she wants to educate people in her community about how to budget and invest wisely as well as how to resolve financial hardships and avoid money-related scams.

Dyna prays:

“Thank you, God. I prayed to you for my future plan. Thank you for answering my prayers and my family with support by giving me a scholarship from CWEF. I am excited and very happy…The fact that I received a scholarship from CWEF was a blessing in disguise as it helped me to continue my studies at the school I wanted to attend and helped ease my family’s burden of paying for school fees and school supplies…I truly thank CWEF and the staff for helping me continue my studies at the university, and God bless CWEF and all the staff.”

—- 

THANK YOU to each of you that has sacrificially given to bridge the gap for young people like Dyna!  Without your help, she may have never been able to finish pursuing her dream of becoming an accountant. But now, her education will be a blessing not only to her but also to her family and community! It’s exciting to see the ripple effect of kindness, isn’t it?

Check out our Facebook page to catch the latest news of your university scholarship recipients!

Tutoring children in math

Studying accounting at the university

Volunteering with children at church

A Bright and Bankable Future: Becoming a Money Expert Read More »

Great Barriers to Clean Water in Cambodia

Please enjoy part of an interview with Kanhchana Thoy, CWEF Director in Cambodia: 

  1. How many people in Cambodia do not have clean water? According to the latest available data from 2020, More than 12 million people in Cambodia (72% of the population) lack access to safe water.  Most of them live in rural areas. 
  2. What keeps people in Cambodia from getting clean water? There are multiple factors. The first is that the income people earn is too low to afford better access. The second is a lack of knowledge about the nature and impact of the water they are using as well as lack of knowledge about how to make the water safer.  The third major influence is cultural practices. For example, one group of rural people receiving clean water support from CWEF is the Jerai people. Their habit is to use mountain runoff water directly without boiling it, and they previously did not realize how nearby human waste and animals contaminate their water. But through your support, CWEF has been able to teach and equip the Jerai people with the knowledge, skills, and tools to have clean water on a daily basis.  
  3. How does CWEF choose who to give water filters to? Since the need is greatest in rural areas, we seek to work with low-income communities in rural areas of Cambodia. Also, we look for communities whose leaders are motivated and interested in partnering with us. 
  4. How many water filters did CWEF give out in Cambodia last year? Last year we gave out 30 biosand water filters in Chang Village and 30 biosand water filters to the villages of Deh and Samkanigh in Rattanakiri province.  So far this year, we have distributed 60 biosand water filters in Davealeng village, Deh village, Banlung, and other villages.

Think of each of these individual families – their grandparents, parents, and children – who now not only understand how their drinking water was contaminated and causing illness, but they are now empowered to sustainably access clean water every day!  These families are experiencing greater health and happiness and are spending less money cleaning their water and treating water-borne illnesses because of you and your generosity!  What better way to transform someone’s life?  Thank you so much for your heart for clean water for families in Cambodia!

Help more people in Cambodia have access to clean drinking water! Click here to give today!

Receive casual updates about the impact of your giving! Follow us on Facebook.

Great Barriers to Clean Water in Cambodia Read More »

CWEF Scholarships recipient in Cambodia, Chanthy, teaching a circle of young students

The Only Sister

Back to School?

After ten years making clothes in a factory in Phnom Penh, Chanthy decided to change jobs. She took a new job as a janitor in a Bible school. But while she cleaned the school, she dreamed of furthering her education. She dreamed of someday having an even better life. Then one day she spoke with her sister-in-law who encouraged Chanthy to pursue her dreams and take the national high school exam. 

Chanthy (on the front right) traveling to a recent CWEF event

The suggestion was very daunting. More than a decade had passed since Chanthy last took classes. Back then, her father worked hard cultivating rice, growing vegetables, and catching fish to support his eight children; but in the end, there was only enough money for a few children to further their education, and the family gave the boys priority. So, Chanthy dropped out of school in ninth grade. Instead of finishing high school, she helped her family work at home and in the rice field. 

Chanthy riding home for Khmer New Year

But now many years later, Chanthy decided to follow her sister-in-law’s advice. She would try to go back to school. Outside of work, she began intensely studying all the high school subjects she previously missed, including English. Chanthy struggled significantly preparing for the high school exam. But in the end, all her hard work paid off. She overcame all the obstacles she faced and passed! 

Pursuing Her Dream

Chanthy next desired to go to college, but she felt anxious about the school fees. With the help of generous people like you and the CWEF scholarship program, Chanthy successfully enrolled at Norton College.  

While there, she sadly faced even more hardships. During her second year of college, her father had a severe stroke. Chanthy cared for her ailing father throughout her studies. It was a great loss for Chanthy when he passed away two years later. Still, Chanthy tried to study hard through this, believing that the knowledge she was gaining could help her escape poverty. 

Despite her great motivation, Chanthy received acceptable but never excellent grades. But her professors and classmates noted her hard work, kindness, and friendliness. Finally, in 2022, Chanthy achieved one of her dreams and successfully graduated from Norton University with a major in English for Teaching! 

Chanthy preparing fish for a Khmer New Year’s dinner

Determination

“I always told myself that I would never drop out of university, especially when many challenges in my family happened nonstop: my dad getting very sick, my family needing more money, and my study result being not so good. But I didn’t give up. And one more thing, I am so grateful for the scholarship you gave me that helped me to study, and I didn’t want it to go in vain. 

I am so grateful to all my beloved people around me that God sent into my life…especially CWEF, who provides me with scholarships. This organization is a big part of what helps, guides, and supports me along the way. Even though I was discouraged at times, I remained motivated…four years later, I finally made it.” 

Because of previously experiencing her family’s struggles as well as experiencing factory working conditions, Chanthy never stopped pursuing her dream and strongly believes that education is the only thing that will lead her to a better future.

“Seeing my family’s poor situation pushes me to struggle forward more and more in my life…I am always dreaming of living a better life in the future through education.” 

Chanthy, CWEF Scholarship Recipient

In the End

Chanthy transformed herself from high school dropout to university graduate and English teacher. She is also a faithful Christian and gifted at working with children. So, in addition to her work, she serves as a Sunday school teacher. Chanthy married in 2021 and is now 33. She is the only one of her sister-siblings to graduate from college.  

Thank you so much for choosing to generously equip Cambodian students like Chanthy to fulfill their potential and achieve their dreams of a better life!  You are transforming lives!

Sunset behind Chanthy’s house over Khmer New Year

The Only Sister Read More »

CWEF biosand water filter recipient, Yun, drinking a cup of filtered water and standing next to the biosand water filter

Man at Work

Yun’s family kept borrowing money. More and more money, more and more debt. What could he do? Everyday life simply cost too much. He couldn’t afford the things his family needed to survive. 

Yun is a young man of twenty-five years old and lives in Kampong Thom Province in Cambodia. 

He and his whole family kept falling ill over and over again. They returned to the hospital over and over again. Every month they needed medical treatment, and the treatments cost a lot.

More bills, more debt. 

Yun wanted to earn money through his work as a farmer; but he often felt so physically terrible due to sickness that he couldn’t work very much, and he had no other way to earn more money for his family.

Yun standing with his family next to a CWEF biosand water filter

At home, when Yun and his family wanted to cook dinner or wash clothes, they retrieved water from a well. But they knew that the well water was dirty, and they feared what might happen to them if they drank dirty well water. 

So they came up with another idea: collecting rainwater for drinking. The rainwater must be clean, they thought. But still the cycle continued of more illness and less work and more debt. 

Thanks to your generosity, Yun’s family eventually received a biosand water filter through CWEF! Yun watched his family closely in the days and weeks after they began drinking the filtered water, and he happily realized that they came down with sicknesses much less often. He also suddenly discovered that he had more free time.

And on top of that, he had more energy. Enough time and energy to farm and earn more money and, even better, start saving money! Best of all, he received fewer and fewer expensive medical bills. Isn’t it amazing what clean water can do?

Now before he goes out into the fields to farm, Yun brings bottles of water from the the biosand water filter. And he will drink multiple glasses of filtered water before he goes out to the river to catch fish. Yun says, “Now, I am very happy after having received a Biosand Filter from Concordia Welfare & Education Foundation (CWEF) in 2019. All of my family members and I are healthy, and I hope that in the future my family’s living condition will be better.” 

Yun thanks you for your generous donation and for supporting his living situation!   

Stay up-to-date on all the transformational work your donations are supporting by following us on Facebook!

Man at Work Read More »

Ven working on a computer at school

“My Life Dramatically Changed”

Ven is a 23-year-old from Kampong Chhnang province in Cambodia.

Like many other young adults, his parents are subsistence farmers. For nearly 30 years, Ven’s father has harvested palm sugar. This low-paying work is extremely dangerous, but was necessary to provide for Ven’s family.

“My father received very little education after the Pol Pot regime; he has few skills other than farming and producing palm sugar,” shares Ven. “For many years he got up at 3 a.m., climbed the palm tree [about 20-25 meters high], harvested the palm tree water, and gave it to my mom for making sugar. The process is not very difficult, but it takes a lot of time to make it.” 

Ven with his family

While Ven was in high school, his father suddenly got sick and needed an urgent surgery. His family could not afford the hospital fees, so Ven’s mother decided to sell some of their farmland and cows to pay for the treatment. After his father recovered, the doctor warned him not to climb palm trees or work as hard as before. The situation was dire for Ven’s family.

After Ven graduated from high school, he asked his parents for permission to study in Phnom Penh. At first, they disagreed because they didn’t have any money to pay his school fees. However, they wanted to see Ven have a bright future, so they decided to take out a loan from a neighbor and sell their last cow to pay for the school fees. During his first year, Ven sought a part-time job in construction while studying. As a day laborer, it was difficult for him to find enough work to make ends meet and to pay for his education expenses.

Ven’s father climbs palm trees for work

Ven heard about a scholarship opportunity through his church and made an application to CWEF. With your generous support, he was approved and has been sponsored through the CWEF University Scholarship program since his second year of studying electrical engineering at National Technical Training Institute (NTTI). Ven is now in his final year and will graduate in 2023!

Through the years, Ven has worked hard to show appreciation for his parents’ struggles and out of gratitude for your generous support through CWEF. Because of his humility and good character, he has been able to develop supportive relationships with his classmates and teachers, and he has become an outstanding student.

Ven on site at a construction job
Ven at his current job

Your generous support through CWEF has inspired Ven to keep fighting onward.

Ven shares:

“The support from CWEF has helped me a lot—to pay for school fees and housing costs, and also to encourage me when I am discouraged, and to help me focus more on my studies.”

Ven leads prayer at a church near his hometown

Additionally, Ven never forgets to serve at his church in Phnom Penh each weekend. On other weekends, he goes back to visit his family and to serve at the church near his home in Kampong Chhnang province.

Through your generous gift of a university education, Ven has transformed himself from a part-time day laborer to a technical team leader in an engineering company in Phnom Penh.

He is grateful for this job, because it is closely related to what he is studying at university. Ven worked hard to overcome many obstacles the last few years during the pandemic, and he is filled with joy to be serving as a team leader who looks out for his coworkers. Ven was especially pleased that he was able to install many electrical machines at his own university through his company’s projects.

“During COVID, I was in front of the computer, just learning from theory with no practice. But when I started working, I realized that there are many things to learn and keep learning. So now my motto is: to work hard, keep fighting, be honest, and be humble.”

Ven’s ambitions do not end here; he aspires to someday become an electrical engineering lecturer at a university, so he can pass on knowledge to students, teaching not only the theories but also through sharing from his practical experience in the field.

Ven says “thank you”

Ven is filled with gratitude for your support through CWEF, which has given him the opportunity to pursue his dream. 

“I would feel regret if I had not decided to come to Phnom Penh to study. I would never know how big the world is, and I don’t know what my life would be like,” shares Ven. “Maybe I would have followed in my father’s footsteps. But – when I chose education, and especially when I received the scholarship from CWEF, my life changed dramatically.”

Thank you for standing by outstanding young people like Ven through your generous support of the CWEF scholarship fund for students in Cambodia! Your gifts are transforming lives!

This article was written by Panhary Port Puth, Education Program Coordination, Cambodia.

Meet another outstanding CWEF scholarship recipient: Bun Leang.

Don’t miss out on the latest CWEF events! Follow us on Facebook or Instagram
+++

“My Life Dramatically Changed” Read More »

women drinks clean water from her home in ratanakiri, cambodia

What Difference Does a BioSand Water Filter Make?

What difference does a BioSand Water Filter make?

 In the tropical country of Cambodia an estimated 2-3 million people get their daily drinking water from unsafe water sources. Rural communities gather water from rainfall, wells, rivers, or standing water. The Cambodian government has set an ambitious goal for 100% of the population to have access to safe drinking water by 2025.

If properly installed and maintained, a BioSand water filter can last up to 25 years! This slow drip system removes 100% of waterborne worms and eggs. Surface water is cleaned in the low-tech device and is easily accessed directly from the filter. When a filter is installed at home, families can conveniently treat water at home to protect against disease.

Playing games with local kids in Ratanakiri

What difference do CWEF’s local partners make?

Pastor John is a farmer and serves a local congregation in his hometown in Ratanakiri province. As a local partner of CWEF, he provides important health training to families in his area who receive gifts of BioSand Water Filters, because of your generous giving.

When a family receives a water filter, they immediately experience many health benefits. Furthermore, local partners like Pastor John also train families in how to properly maintain their water filter, and lessons in sanitation and hygiene practices give families additional tools for preventing disease and improving their overall health.

In 2022 and 2023, CWEF will provide clean and safe drinking water via BioSand Water Filters for over 100 families in two rural communities in Ratanakiri province. The partnership with local Christian pastors like Pastor John, together with their congregation members in the Deh and Chang villages, will make your gift of safe drinking water more powerful and sustainable for the long-term.

You can see Biosand Water Filter #39 in Ratanakiri province by watching this video.

CWEF’s Kanhchana leads a health lesson with kids

What difference are you making by supporting CWEF BioSand Water Filters in Cambodia?

Globally, diarrhea is one of the leading causes of death in children under five years of age. Water-borne illnesses are preventable with the use of proper water treatment, such as the BioSand Water Filters you are supporting in Cambodia. Access to clean water, coupled with handwashing and other healthy hygiene habits, can bring a life-changing renewal of health to whole families. In particular, more children and their families in Deh and Chang villages in Ratanakiri will enjoy full health without the threat of malnutrition, dehydration, or death from diarrhea.

This past October, CWEF highlighted the importance of WASH (Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene), in connection with Global Handwashing Day on October 15.

Don’t forget — the next time you wash your hands or drink from an indoor faucet, you also can remember the gift of health that you have provided to families in rural Cambodia. Because of your generosity, they too can enjoy the immense gift of drinking water at home, and the improved health it brings.

Thank you for your partnership!

This article was written by Karin Semler, CWEF Board Member

What Difference Does a BioSand Water Filter Make? Read More »

Life in the Big City

Bun Leang is a bright young man who believed his God-given potential could only be achieved by furthering his education at university. But how could he attend when his family stood deep in medical debt?

Bun Leang grew up in the countryside of western Cambodia in a Christian family. His father worked faithfully for many years as a construction worker to support his wife and six children. But eventually, as his body grew slower and weaker with old age, he could no longer continue this physically intensive labor. Some time later, Bun Leang’s mother also accidentally fell. The fall broke her hip. She needed surgery, but the doctor refused to operate because she had diabetes. Caring for their mother by providing necessary medical care drove Bun Leang’s family deep into financial debt.

Bun Leang participating in worship team!

During this time of Bun Leang’s childhood and adolescence, Bun Leang enjoyed playing music. He performed musically and shared the gospel in surrounding villages. When Bun Leang was nearing university age, CWEF heard about both his academic potential and the financial hardships his family faces. So CWEF donors like you came together and awarded Bun Leang an academic scholarship, making it possible for him to attend university. 

Bun Leang embraced the opportunity by first pursuing an associate degree in his hometown. Later he took an even bigger leap and transferred to a university in Phnom Penh, far away from his family and everything familiar, to study engineering. Bun Leang studied hard. During his classes, he most enjoyed listening to professors who shared stories from their on-the-job engineering experiences.

One of the schools Bun Leang attended

But Bun Leang also struggled to adjust to life in the big city. He felt lonely. All his family and friends lived back in his hometown, and he knew no one else in Phnom Penh. Once, he even regretted coming to the big city and wished he had stayed in his hometown. Also, he felt very stressed. He knew that his family needed more money to pay for his mother’s medical debts, but he didn’t have a job and couldn’t help.

Bun Leang working with his technical team
Visiting a work site

Later on, while still in school, he did successfully find a job as part of a technical team. Bun Leang explains, “(At first), I didn’t understand a single word of the technical English terms used on engineering sites, but that is a good starting point for me to work harder. It took me two years and a lot of effort to learn how to be skilled at my job, but now I’ve been working for three years and am the Senior Technical Project Manager.” 

Bun Leang on his last day of engineering school!

This year Bun Leang will graduate with a degree in engineering! He says,  

“…if I continued to live in my hometown without furthering my studies, I really can’t imagine what my life would be like. But now I have a job, and I dream that I can support myself and give back to my family.”

Throughout this year, Bun Leang has described his life as a blessing, and CWEF has been a big part of that: providing support and encouragement. Bun Leang says: “CWEF has provided support such as: school fees, some living costs before I was strong enough to seek a job, housing fees, and another extra course…CWEF takes good care of me… I am so grateful for your support.”

Bun Leang surely will not stop here. He has more goals he wants to achieve in the coming years. He shares, 

“Education has played a big role in transforming my life. First, I’ve become knowledgeable, and it opens my vision to see the next plan for what I want to achieve more, for example, in 5 years or 10 years.” 

Eating a meal with family!

Bun Leang is so grateful to God for blessing him in every way, and he is thankful to everyone at CWEF for providing him with a scholarship and a chance to pursue higher education! Through this opportunity, he was able to make his dream come true, and now he looks forward to pouring into his church and community in the future!

Want to help more students like Bun Leang fulfill their potential? Donate here!

Meet more students like Bun Leang and read their stories here.

This report was written by Panhary, Education Program Coordinator in Cambodia; translated from English into Mandarin by Qian Qian, CWEF volunteer; and edited in English by April Chiasson, CWEF Communications Manager.

Life in the Big City Read More »

Clan John with family members

Down an Impassable Road

John, a farmer from a remote mountain village in Cambodia, along with his wife and children always drank from the village well. Many times a year they would all fall ill with stomach aches and diarrhea as well as frequently experience other health complications like lower back pain and eye problems.

John filling up on clean water from the biosand water filter!

John is descended from an ancient Cambodian ethnic group. Because he lives in the remote mountains, it is very difficult to travel outside of his own village. John attended school until fifth grade and can speak two languages: Khmer and Jarai. In 1998 during the Pol Pot regime, he married his wife in Vietnam near the Khmer border. They had six children together; but sadly, in 2001, one of their daughters died from leukemia.

Now John owns 10 hectares of land where he works hard morning until evening six days a week with his wife to farm cassava and cashews. Despite all of their faithful hard work, for a long time John and his wife could not afford enough food or medical care for their family.

In 2010, a CWEF team – together with a partner organization – visited John’s village. They shared the gospel with John and his family and also taught them how to eat healthy, how to wash their hands with proper technique, and how to boil water in order to make it safe for drinking. After CWEF’s first visit, John began to serve his local church, study the Bible outside of his village, and share the gospel with other people in his own community. Because he speaks both languages, John also assists with translating the Bible from the Khmer language into the Jarai language so that people in his community can better understand God’s Word.

In 2014, a few years after CWEF’s first visit, John requested a biosand water filter from CWEF. Unfortunately, the materials for the filter could not be transported over the terrible village roads. But recently with improved roads, CWEF was finally able to fulfill John’s request and delivered thirty biosand water filters to John’s community! In 2023, with your generous support, we plan to provide clean and safe drinking water via biosand water filters to many more in John’s community and the surrounding area.

John with his children and a few nieces/nephews.

Today John says:

“My community is so blessed by God through receiving Biosand Filters from the CWEF organization. Now we do not spend a lot of time boiling drinking water, and we feel comfortable after we get safe drinking water at home. Thank you CWEF for continuing to work in my community and encouraging us so much in the name of God.”

John and his wife have also now achieved better production on their farm and are able to provide enough food and medical care for their family.

Thank you for your generous support of the HEAL (Health Education, Advocacy, and Literacy) program, facilitate by CWEF! You make it possible for families like John’s to not only hear about the goodness and generosity of God, but also to experience it through clean water, health education, and improved sanitation. Your generosity is transforming lives!

Want more frequent updates? Follow us on Facebook & Instagram!

Want to help more families like John’s? Join the CWEF Community and become a monthly donor today!

This story was written by Kanhchana, CWEF Director of Cambodia, and edited by April Chiasson, CWEF Communications Manager. This story was translated into Mandarin by Qian Qian, CWEF Volunteer.

Down an Impassable Road Read More »

Lijuan

Dare to Try

Hello everyone! My name is Lijuan, I am from Guangdong province, China.  When I was young, my father, the only breadwinner in my family, fell ill and was unable to financially support my education. And so first of all, I would like to express my heartfelt thanks to my teachers and all the caring people of Concordia Welfare & Education Foundation for helping me in my most difficult time and for choosing me among so many people to receive financial support. 

In addition to that, the summer and winter camps held by CWEF & Shining Star every year made me and the other students feel happy and cared for and exposed us to new things and new friends. I have become a more cheerful and confident person because of this organization.  

Looking back on these ten years of schooling, I am very happy that I was able to receive a higher education with the help of many kind people. Growing up in such a difficult family, I knew that only studying could change my fate; so I studied diligently from elementary school through high school. I have been asked many times by other parents, “Do you have any tricks to study? How come you study so well?” I would usually laugh and think, “I don’t have any tricks. It’s just that I have no one behind me, so I have to work hard.”  

The moment I received my university acceptance letter, I was both happy and frustrated. Happy that my hard work for more than ten years had finally paid off, and I could change my destiny; frustrated that my debt-ridden family could not support my college expenses.  Thanks to the good policies of the Party and the Country, and thanks to the kind-hearted organizations like CWEF, I was able to fulfill my dream of going to college!  

I entered the university knowing that the opportunity to go to university is not easy to come by, and I kept telling myself that I should cherish it twice and that studying should be the first priority. So I studied hard and ranked in the top 20% overall, while also pursuing a minor in administration over the weekends.  

Every year I have worked hard to get scholarships, some of which were supplied by Concordia Welfare & Education Foundation, and these scholarships have largely relieved me of my worries. By using the scholarship funds I received only for my studies and real needs and by not comparing my food and clothes to those of other students, I relieved my family of some financial burden.  

As a college elective, I decided to try a new challenge: tennis. When I began, the coach thought I was short and had no advantage in playing tennis. So I just followed the other players and taught myself. When I had time, I went to tennis lessons, played on the courts every day, and consulted with the coach and other players. After another year, I became the best player, and the coach was impressed with me.

The tennis coach wholeheartedly trained me every day.  Soon I became the assistant tennis coach, and I worked part-time during weekends and holidays. Because of the coach’s help and teaching, I became a better version of myself during this period of my life. And after four years of ongoing practice in college, I had the honor of winning the tennis championship my senior year.    

After graduating from college, I began regularly supporting charity work, and I started a tennis club along with some of the other athletes. I also began studying for the teacher preparation exam. I was unsuccessful in the first round of exams, but I studied and prepared for the exams again. Fortunately, I got into the teaching profession. I am now a teacher with a bachelor’s degree in physical education from Guangdong Institute of Petrochemical Technology. I like my job, and my life is the way I want it. Thank you for all the people who have helped and encouraged me over the years.  

Many times over the years, I was confused and torn by the choices I faced, but as long as you follow your heart, not afraid of failure, not afraid of hardship, and dare to try; I believe you will become what you want to be. 

Thank you for your generous donations to Concordia Welfare & Education Foundation’s scholarship fund for Chinese girls! Because of you, young women like Lijuan have been empowered to change their destinies and reach their professional dreams. And now they are helping others do the same.  

—————————————————

This letter was originally written by Lijuan in Mandarin; translated to English with the help of Qian Qian, CWEF volunteer; and edited for length and flow by April Chiasson, Communications Manager.

This summer, during our Join The Community campaign, we are looking for more people with a heart for students like Lijuan. Would you consider joining The Community as a monthly donor today?

Dare to Try Read More »

Sreymom

How She’s Giving Back

Her name is Sreymom; she is Cambodian. She grew up in a village as the oldest of five children. Sadly, when she was just twelve years old her mother died. Then helping her father earn an income for the family became her responsibility too, and after she completed sixth grade, her father asked her to begin full-time factory work.  

Sreymom describes, “In my village, mostly at the age of 12–13 years old, (the young people) will (lie about) their age in order to work in a factory. They don’t want to study but want to work in a factory where they can earn money and become beautiful. However, I didn’t want to work there. I wanted to study even though I didn’t know what it will become. I still wanted to study. ” 

Sreymom

At twelve years old, Sreymom was underweight. When factory managers saw her small size, they refused to hire her. Not a single factory accepted her. However, every other one of Sreymom’s friends, who were of normal height and weight, received job offers and began working full-time in factories just like they had dreamed of. 

After all the factory rejections, Sreymom’s father sat back and considered what to do. If not in a factory, where else could he find work for Sreymom? Soon he found a skills training center in Kompong Chnang province for women who had dropped out of school. The center taught marketable skills like sewing and cooking. 

An Unexpected Opportunity

Sreymom really did not want to go to the training center. She wanted to continue her formal education. But she could not speak up or refuse her father. So in the end, she left home and began the multiple day journey to her new life at the skills training center. On the way, she stopped to lodge a single night with one of her relatives. The relative worked as a cook at a Christian orphanage called the Child Rescue Organization (CRO). This ‘chance’ visit would change Sreymom’s life forever.

While she was visiting, the CRO manager also met Sreymom and found out about where she was headed and why. In that one evening, the director ended up inviting Sreymom to live at CRO instead and pursue her studies there. After some initial surprise and discussion, Sreymom eventually agreed.

But the decision didn’t come without cost. When Sreymom’s father found out about the sudden change in plans, he became upset; and for the whole first year, he couldn’t support it.  He very much wanted Sreymom to give up her formal education so that she could earn money. But finally, the CRO director was able to talk with her father and explain the benefits of Sreymom furthering her education, and Sreymom’s father eventually agreed.

The Love and Care of Strangers

When Sreymom first heard of God at CRO, she was incredulous. She firmly committed herself to not believing in him. However, day by day, God used the people at the center to give Sreymom some of the love and care that she had never experienced before.  

She confesses, “No one forced me to believe in God at all, but their kindness and love from people that I have met…they treated me like family. And that made me open my mind unnexpectedly.”

Through CRO, Sreymom eventually successfully completed middle school and also high school. But then, she faced a new problem: she could not afford college.

College Problems

At this time, Concordia Welfare & Education Foundation (CWEF) was introduced to Sreymom and took up her case. CWEF fundraised through generous people like you to provide Sreymom with the necessary funds and an opportunity to fulfill her college dream.

And then, thanks to her own determination as well as a scholarship provided through the kindness of people like you, a well-known university in Phnom Penh admitted Sreymom as an English major!

At university, Sreymom faced many other battles including the fact that mastering the English language was incredibly challenging. At one point, she almost wanted to drop out of college altogether. But…her now personal faith in God kept her strong. Throughout this season of Sreymom’s life, CWEF staff continued to surround her with encouragement and a loving community. 

Sreymom graduating from university surrounded by her classmates
Sreymom’s Success

And in the end, she made it! Not only through middle school but through college. She achieved the dream that at one point looked impossible. After successfully graduating from college, Sreymom received job offers with good salaries from schools in Phnom Penh. But she turned down every single offer. Her desire wasn’t to make a lot of money. Instead, she desired to give back to the people that gave so much to her. Now she is working full-time at the Child Rescue Organization that she used to live at providing English lessons to more than one hundred Cambodian students for free.  

Today, Sreymom says:

“There are many kids who need my help to provide them with knowledge, and this is the best way that I could contribute back to my community.”   

Sreymom is grateful to Concordia Welfare & Education Foundation and all those who helped her on her journey! Now she can use her knowledge and story to inspire the next generation of students to not drop out of school but pursue their dreams instead.

It’s extremely exciting to see how everything Sreymom has learned, spiritually and educationally, is already spilling over and building up the next generation!

Thank you for helping to break the cycle of poverty for young people like Sreymom through your generous giving and support of Concordia Welfare & Education Foundation.

Sreymom back at CRO
Sreymom, with a few of her students

See more updates about the work of CWEF by following us on Facebook and Instagram!

Become part of the CWEF community and transform the lives of more outstanding young people by donating here.

This story was written by Panhary, CWEF Education Program Coordinator in Cambodia, with April Chiasson, CWEF Communications Manager.

How She’s Giving Back Read More »

Scroll to Top