scholarships

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.”

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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 »

photo of Dan, CWEF high school scholarship recipeint

A Happy Life Every Day

Hello!  THANK YOU for your generous support of education for girls from rural China! 

Please enjoy letter excerpts from Dan, a CWEF high school scholarship recipient:

Working for a better life. “At home, grandma and mom and dad tell me to study hard; so that I can get into a good university. It is only after I graduate that there will be more employment opportunities for me. I know this because my parents have struggled to earn a living and have often not qualified for job interviews because of their limited education. Since I started going to school, I always remember my parents’ expectation has been for me to enter the best school in our county, and I have been fighting for it. 

I’m more of a home body. During my 14 days of summer vacation, I busily study and work on the farm. I have little free time; but for hobbies, I like to sing – not only Chinese-style songs, but also some English songs. I like that, in the song, I can experience a different world, feel the singer’s emotions, and expand my English vocabulary.  

The exterior of Dan’s home in rural Yunnan

Facing failure. The most impressive thing for me this year was my parents’ response to my academic focus. I initially chose to study science with great anticipation. I listened carefully in class. Afterwards, I rigorously completed the homework. And yet even though I mastered the class material, my grade on the final exam was too low.

One time my grades really dropped. I felt a little scared. When I went home, my parents saw that I was tired of studying and cautiously asked me if I was okay. At that moment, I couldn’t hold back all my stress, and I told them that I couldn’t keep up with my studies. I didn’t know what to do. Dad was silent for a while and then asked me if I was only struggling with physics, chemistry and biology; or if I felt that I couldn’t keep up with the calculations. My father let me switch to the liberal arts, which focus on accumulating knowledge so that learning will be easier for me.

The interior of Dan’s family home

Living a happy life every day. Now my grades are keeping up. In school, I live a happy life every day. Through CWEF, people can give love and help to others. Included in this educational support, there are living supplies, which make the lives of poor families less strenuous; school supplies, which make studying easier for children that can’t afford school supplies; food items, which improve the quality of life in poor families, and charity grants to help people recover that have suffered major accidents.

Doing charity work is a very meaningful thing. I want to join in. And what I can do at the moment is volunteer. I will participate when I have the chance.

You have provided pivotal support in Dan’s life.  Many children from rural areas of China are never able to graduate high school because they cannot afford it. But through Dan’s determination and your generosity, she now has the opportunity to graduate high school and pursue college!  Your kindness inspires young Chinese girls like Dan to not only excel academically but also to pass the kindness on to others! 

Would you like to help more young people like Dan finish their education? Partner with CWEF by making a charitable gift today!

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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 »

Chang Die - Chinese girl whom received a high school scholarship from CWEF.

No Reason to Give Up

WORKING HARD EVERY DAY

Hello, everyone. My name is Chang Die; a student from Yunnan Province; who has been supported by Concordia Welfare & Education Foundation. I would like to share my story with you here, in the hopes of helping other students with similar experiences.

For as long as I can remember, my parents have been busy working hard every day. Planting and harvesting time are the most difficult: getting up before dawn to work and then going to bed close to midnight. Growing up I saw how hard my parents worked, so I felt that I also had to work hard. When I went to school, I always got up early and went to bed late, not willing to waste a minute of learning time. My parents also had too many expectations of me. I couldn’t live up to them.

Unfortunately, I did not get an ideal score on the college entrance exam because of the great emotional and study pressure I was experiencing. However, I am grateful that I was admitted to the major of medicine (medical laboratory technology) at last. Although I am not currently a clinician in a hospital, I can still contribute to the medical cause right now. Because my family and I have also experienced being sick in the hospital, I deeply understand the feelings of every hospital patient; so I perform my patient examinations and write my patient reports meticulously.

INSPIRED BY CWEF

I’m grateful to have been a grantee of CWEF since my first year of high school in 2013. Different from any other funding program at our school, CWEF not only provided financial aid to us but also paid attention to how each student was doing individually every semester. Until I graduated from high school in 2016, CWEF also regularly organized activities and inspirational education for us.

I remember once learning about a physically disabled boy who lost his hands. Instead of complaining about life and clinging to others for help, he used his feet instead of his hands to do everything on his own. After watching a video about him in class, my teacher had us try writing by biting a pen with our mouth. Writing this way, the words came out crooked. The teacher came up behind me to see the name I had written down, and she read it out loud. My heart felt both excited and happy because I am introverted, but the teacher clearly noticed me in that moment. Even though there are many stories out there like this boy’s, this lesson impressed on me how tough the disabled boy was. His example encouraged me that those of us with sound hands and feet have no reason to give up!

At the end of the third year of high school, CWEF teachers brought some foreign friends to visit and talk with us, encouraging us to study English well and have a broader vision for our future. To guide those of us struggling with college applications after the college entrance exam, CWEF also invited high school alumni to share their experiences with us, which was helpful.

Many different details and activities of CWEF not only brightened my whole high school experience but also encouraged me to forge ahead and study further, giving me strength to move forward. It was a time of high motivation and hard work for me. This high school season is still my best memory and has benefited me all my life.

PASS IT ON

During my college years, I seriously studied specialized courses, participated in work-study programs, actively participated in some volunteer activities in the university, and got to know many important people. All these things have led me to grow up, made me always grateful and full of goodwill towards society, and encouraged me to try my best to help the people around me that are in need.

The world is big and wonderful, and there are many things worth hearing, seeing, and trying. I will always remember CWEF’s help and care for me. If there is a suitable opportunity, I am still willing to participate in a public-interest organization. I’d like to pass on the warmth and help I have received to other people in need.

Thank you so much for your sacrificial giving towards young Chinese students like Changyi! Having received love and support through you, she is now eager to give back by spreading goodwill and generosity to others in her sphere of influence.

Chang Die

No Reason to Give Up 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.

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weifang chinese high school scholarship recipient

Paying It Forward

As a young adult, Weifang is living out the value of “local people serving local people.” She has donated much of her time in recent years to serve others.

“In my spare time, I help the community as a volunteer in the local area, especially through anti-epidemic work…. Social stability is everyone’s responsibility. I am one of them, too!”

What Scholarships Make Possible

When she was younger, Weifang was an academically strong student and received a scholarship from CWEF in 2011 until 2014, when she graduated from high school. The scholarship support, made possible by generous supporters like you, relieved a financial burden to her family.

“I’m grateful for the financial aid from CWEF and the professional guidance I received. It reduced my personal psychological pressure, and I could devote myself to studying with more piece of mind.”

During her high school years, Weifang and other scholarship recipients received resiliency lessons and social/emotional encouragement. These lessons and activities provide additional support to scholarship students. Weifang remembers them fondly:

“I felt hope for the future, love and hard work for my life and study, and I grew self-confidence. I also gained a group of friends who I have maintained deep friendships with to this day.”

Weifang performed well in high school, going on to Guangdong Technical Teachers College to major in accounting. Once she graduated in 2018 she went on to be an accountant before ultimately shifting to be a math teacher in 2021.

She notes that the scholarship program and additional support lessons have had a long-term positive impact in her life:

“I was able to grow and maintain a healthy mental state to face problems I encounter in life and work.”

Choosing to Serve Others

Weifang joined a group of volunteers, comprised of other CWEF high school scholarship program graduates, in a domestic non-profit called Shining Star. As a volunteer, Weifang began teaching left-behind children through Shining Star’s GROW program.

“When I became a teacher of the GROW program (leading resiliency activities and lessons), I liked the feeling of teaching and learning. It’s destiny! I am now in the education profession.”

Supporting left-behind children with Shining Star
With Shining Star volunteer teammates

Inspiring Future Leaders

Sometimes life comes full circle in more ways than one. This former scholarship recipient and accountant is now paying it forward as a teacher. Being a part of Shining Star’s community has introduced Weifang to her love of teaching, as she is now a math teacher.

During 2022’s Spring Festival, Weifang asked some children what they thought of the volunteer work she was involved with, and if they wanted to do it as well when they were older.

Weifang has been doing a great job of paying it forward, because they all said “Yes!”

Your generous giving to the CWEF scholarship fund made it possible for young people like Weifang to focus on their studies, complete high school, learn valuable life skills, and form deep bonds with a supportive community!

Each of these has been a key component in her ultimate success. And more than that, your sacrificial giving empowered and equipped Weifang so that she can pour into and inspire other future leaders.

Thank you for stepping up to help transform the lives of young students in China!


This article was written by Elena Semler, CWEF volunteer.

Meet more inspiring Chinese scholarship recipients! Read Lijuan’s story of transformation here.

Get more exciting updates of your day-to-day impact through CWEF. Follow us on Instagram or Facebook!

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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 »

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.  

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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?

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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

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

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Phanna’s Perseverance

In 1980, a young man in Cambodia stepped on a landmine laid by Khmer Rouge soldiers while clearing land for farming. He survived but faced many hardships as a disabled farmer. He married and had four children, one of whom was a boy named Phanna. The family worked hard for a low income, but then sadly faced a terrible tragedy when Phanna’s mother passed away in 2010 from chronic heart disease.

Phanna’s father was not able to care for all four children on his own, so he made the difficult decision in 2011 to bring them to a nonprofit center called the Child Rescue Organization (CRO), where their physical and emotional needs could be met. With this extra support, Phanna was able to develop his natural gifts. He grew into an exceptionally bright and diligent student, and he was a disciplined and helpful member of the CRO community. His English also improved rapidly through his own study and as he practiced with teams of students from other countries who came to visit and serve at CRO.

Phanna continued to work hard throughout high school and eventually graduated in 2017, earning a Grade A on the national exam – a very prestigious accomplishment in Cambodia. That year, nearly 100,000 students took the national exam, and Phanna was one of only 424 students in the entire country who earned an A!

Because of his excellent academic record, Phanna was awarded scholarships from two universities in Cambodia, but they only covered his tuition costs. Because of CRO’s relationship with CWEF, Phanna also learned about the CWEF University Scholarship program. He applied and was approved for additional support from CWEF for not only his living costs, but also for his continued spiritual, mental, and emotional development through regular encouragement and training opportunities with the CWEF team in Cambodia. Your generous support of CWEF made it possible for Phanna to realize his dream of studying International Relations at the University of Cambodia in Phnom Penh, the capital city.

Phanna-with-fellow-scholars
Phanna with fellow CWEF Scholarship students in Phnom Penh;

But Phanna’s dreams and determination didn’t stop there.

During his first year in Phnom Penh, he began researching scholarships for study abroad programs and started preparing himself to be a strong candidate. The CWEF team encouraged him to apply for scholarship programs that interested him – even if he failed, it would be a great learning experience for him. In the end, Phanna was awarded a 4-year scholarship to study Social Policy and Development at Thammasat University, a prestigious institution in Bangkok, Thailand.

Headed-to-Thailand
At the airport, leaving Cambodia for Thammasat University in Thailand
With-fellow-students-in-Thailand
With fellow students at Thammasat University

CWEF is thrilled to be able to continue supporting Phanna with scholarship support for living costs, and the CWEF Cambodia team continues to help him with anything he needs, giving him confidence and encouragement to take advantage of this unique opportunity.

Phanna recently shared with us that he has never feared living alone in Thailand because he knows that there are people from CWEF who are always there to love, care, support, and pray for him.

Phanna

Phanna will soon enter his third year at Thammasat University, and it should come as no surprise that he continues to excel. In his most recent semester, he earned a perfect 4.0 GPA. Not only that, Phanna joined a volunteer program at the university that is working to facilitate projects designed to help children in rural communities in Thailand.

In the future, Phanna wants to be a Governance and Policy Specialist and hopes to bring a positive impact to the society in his home country of Cambodia. We look forward to seeing what God has in store for the next season of Phanna’s education and adult life.

Because of your faithful prayers and generosity, Phanna is able to confidently share:

“In the future, I will be able to play a critical role to improve people’s living conditions in my country.”

by Panhary Port Puth (Cambodia Education Programs Director), with Joshua Lange (CWEF Executive Director)

Support Future Leaders Like Phanna

 

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