Today I went to the center, and kids from all three of the villages had been brought over to the center to have a large meal, for playing outside (somewhat of a recess) and English lessons, along with drawing! The kids are separated by village at this point, and all ages of children (between 5 and 10 I would say..) are learning the same thing due to lack of time, teachers and funding at the moment, but HEY, these kids are SO HAPPY to have the opportunity to get the education that the thought probably does not even cross their minds! CHOICE will get the kids to the center every day for school with enough money at some point, and that will be EXCELLENT! For now, the children only come once every other week for school there, but there are local Khmer (Cambodian) teachers that the organization pays who are in the villages! :) CHOICE pays for the transportation of the children to the center - pretty much everything because the families cannot afford to. The families cannot afford to send their children to school because it is so expensive for them, and they must even pay a corruption fee to the teachers or government (not sure which one, maybe both) because this country is so corrupt! The government certainly is not paying for their schooling. CHOICE takes care of all of this for the kids, SO WONDERFUL! I felt so happy to give my time and efforts today with the children; I teared up on numerous occasions. I could FEEL that the kids wanted to be here, they were so excited to learn, SO appreciative that people were taking time out of their lives to care for them. I know that this is something they will NOT forget and when they grow up, hopefully they have the urge to help others, as CHOICE has done for them. The day actually made me consider staying here longer, seeing how cute these kids were and how fun. Check facebook for some pictures, as you can see almost a dozen of them hanging off of me, so happy to just play and celebrate being alive; these kids know how to live! On many occasions, as I have often said, those who have less have more. Because these children come from families that can barely support them, they know nothing of not being able to watch their favorite television show, or being kicked off the computer by an elder sibling...these petty thoughts don't even cross their mind! I was particularly happy to show the kids how to write the letter "e" and they were so happy to learn it! The feeling of KNOWING you are making a difference in children's lives and NOT getting paid for it is fantastic! I was there because I WANTED to be there, not for the money. I found that the children's smiles were so genuine and really had such a fantastic day! The kids will tire you out, but it's ALL worth it! I highly recommend that people volunteer with CHOICE for the day if they are in Phnom Penh! The $5 donation they ask for goes to costs like shuttling you to the village, paying the Khmer teachers, materials for creating and fixing up the facilities, etc.
My hearts go out to the children of these villages, what FANTASTIC souls!!! This has strongly made me consider teaching young children English!