Meet Srey Pich
Meet Srey Pich…at 15, she’s a little serious. She’s thoughtful and willingly adds into a conversation on hygiene and sanitation for girls. Her reflections and her story bely her age. They demand your attention. But she laughs easy. A little like the sun peeking out from behind the clouds in an overcast sky. There’s a joy hovering in the background despite her circumstances.
I ask Srey Pich to describe herself in three words. She stops. Looks downwards and inwards. Thinks deeply before responding. Kind. Hard working. Learn quickly.
From what I’ve seen, they sound so right. It appears she’s captured herself brilliantly. She knows who she is. I want to know her more. What is your story?
Srey Pich lives in a village about 25 kilometres from the school. Every morning she rises at 5am to do her chores and prepare for the day ahead. It’s a long day. School starts at 7 and runs to 5pm. There’s a two hour lunch break when most students return home. She cannot consider this option. Her ride is more than an hour each way. Her parents worry about her travelling alone down long, dusty roads but there is little they can do. You see, her father is disabled after a stroke in 2013. Her mother has become his carer. Four of her five siblings have married and moved away. Far away. They have left Srey Pich and one sister behind to care for the family.
But she’s pragmatic.
She sees the up side. None of the family has gone beyond 6th grade. She’s in the 9th standard. She’s in the top two or three students. She wants to be a teacher. Return to this school and help other students much like herself.
I’m invested in her story. Then something strikes me and I stop to ask, “Who provides for the family?”
She responds, “My sister. When my father became sick, my sister left school. She was fifteen. Now she supports us.”
I’m keen to know how she does this. The answer is obvious. Yet it’s still hard to hear.
“She works in a factory. A garment factory. She works long hours but she is strong. Some months she earns $150. Other months she takes extra hours. She will work Saturday and Sunday. Then she makes $200. I am very proud of her.”
And well she might be. She’s the family hero. The quiet provider. Sacrificing her hopes for her sister and parents. It dawns on me that this would be Srey Pich’s story too. It’s the very story Foxglove is striving to address.
We pause for a few moments. Where to next? Srey Pich leads the way,
“I want to follow my dreams. I want to do very well at school. I will work very hard but my sister cannot do anymore. I will have to see what happens in the future.”
And it’s over. Our chat has come to an end. It’s no time or place for false promises. It’s time for me to think of ways that will help and empower her for the future.
And it’s time for her to think of the long ride home.
2019 School Sanitation Project
This year we plan to build a toilet block with 5 toilets and handwashing facilities at a rural high school in Cambodia, so girls like Srey Pich have access to proper sanitation and can complete their schooling uninterrupted.
The total cost to build is $15,000. That’s less than $10 per student. There’s no doubt this will make an enormous difference to the students, particularly the girls. We need your support to make it happen. We are asking our community to jump on board, by making a donation of $30.
This will change a girl’s life forever.
To make a donation today please visit our fundraising page