Since 2009, BGR has partnered with Lotus Outreach to provide primary and secondary scholarships to high-achieving girls in Cambodia, along with bags of rice to their families. In 2010, the program expanded to provide 25 GATE program graduates with scholarships to college and trade schools.
Plean Sreytoek is the third of four children born to laborer parents in Bantat Boh village, Banteay Meanchey Province, Cambodia. Sreytoek’s parents care for the cattle of a rich family in their village. Sreytoek is the only child in her family who could reach the 12th grade; her other siblings were unable to even reach secondary school.
The extreme poverty of Sreytoek’s family discouraged her at a young age from academic pursuits. As a child she dreamed of completing high school, but she never believed it would be possible. Her family owns no land. They can grow no crops for sale. At one point in her early adolescence she thought she would drop out in order to migrate to Thailand and support her family from there.
When Sreytoek was in the 8th grade, she applied for and won a full GATE secondary school scholarship. Sreytoek lived in a GATE residential house and earned excellent grades. Even when her mother fell ill and Sreytoek had to work weekends in the rice paddies to help pay her family’s debts, she maintained her position as one of the top ten students in her class.
Lotus Outreach’s GATE project supplied Sreytoek and her family with rice support to help lessen the burden of her mother’s medical bills. This tremendous assistance granted Sreytoek’s family the disposable income to pay their debts sustainably. Her family said they will never forget this great support for their daughter and their whole family.
Sreytoek is now graduating high school and dreams of becoming a high school teacher. She aspires to provide an education to her community and earn money to support her family. Thanks to the generosity of GATE supporters, Sreytoek and her family have been able to escape the pitfalls of poverty.
(Prepared by Jennifer Russ, based on Lotus Outreach’s report to BGR,
Three Years of Great Work, A Review of 2011-2013)