Students Raise Donations For Garbage Dump Children
UCSS provided uniforms, rice, noodles, cakes
and face masks to children at the People
Improvement Organization near the Stung
Mean Chey dumpsite.
When a friend of Ry Sovanna showed him a document outlining the conditions endured by the children and adults who work at the Stung Mean Chey garbage dump, it changed his perspective on how he would approach life.
Enrolled in his first term as a B.A. student at The University of Cambodia, he decided to take the information he learned and incorporate it into a project for his political science class. He visited the garbage site and talked with the children, who he said work from sunup to sundown to earn a day's wages of about 2,000 riels. The children, he said, don't even have the opportunity to attend school.
"It's not balanced," he said. "They work a lot but only earn a small amount of money."
To carry out his project, he contacted People Improvement Organization (PIO), which provides children from Stung Mean Chey with educational opportunities, and began forming a relationship with them. With the help of his classmates, he raised 300,000 riels for the organization, but this amount didn't satisfy him.
"I knew that small amount of money could not help the children," he said. "It provided clothes, but it wasn't enough."
So when he joined the UC Student Senate (UCSS), he broached the idea of the student body jumping on board the effort to support the children at the garbage dump.
"The UC students were interested in the project," he said. "They asked a lot of questions. They wanted to visit the garbage site and learn about the conditions."
UCSS decided to take on the Stung Mean Chey project as one of their 11 activities for the year. President Dr. Kao Kim Hourn provided 1
In addition to donating needed food and
clothing, UCSS taught children about health
million riels for the project and the 20 students of UCSS raised an additional 1.7 million riels from their classmates and others within the UC community. The money bought school uniforms, rice, noodles, cakes and face masks, which they gave to the children at PIO at the end of March.
"The children have no money, no scholarships to receive an education and no happiness from their families," Sovanna said. "Their way of life is really difficult."
More photos from the Stun Mean Chey project.
During UCSS' visit to the organization, the UC students played games with the children and performed a skit to teach the children about personal hygiene. Ean Pheara, PIO's Operation and Project Manager who coordinated with the students on the project, said he appreciated the student's ability to communicate effectively with the children and organize quality activities for them.
"Our children seemed to like them so much," he said. "I hope that UC will do more as a means of helping underprivileged children."
According to UCSS adviser Samraing Kamsan, this is the first time UC students have been
involved with a project to help children who live and work at the garbage dump.
"Generosity is very important," he said. "Poverty reduction is important, not only for the government but also for the private sector and academic institutions."
Students need to learn about the challenges facing Cambodian society, especially about the plight of orphans and those working at the garbage site, agreed President Dr. Kao Kim Hourn.
“The students here are privileged. Not many Cambodians have the opportunity to go to a leading university and study another language,” he said. “It’s important that students stay in touch with the reality of the community.”
Sovanna said the work he has done at Stung Mean Chey gave him his first taste of real world experiences and he wants to continue to do this project in the future.
"Those children encouraged me and I will try my best to help them," he said. "It's good for Cambodians to help one another. It's good for our culture."