Siem Reap’s grassroots education NGO, This Life Cambodia, founded by Australian conservationist Billy Gorter, is about to publish an intriguing book detailing the stories and lives of 21 scholarship students.
The book is set to be printed in Phnom Penh next week with 1,000 copies to be distributed in Cambodia and Australia as a fundraiser. But before the presses roll, there’s just one snag: there’s a fundraising shortfall of $600. Donors are needed now.
In This Life is a classy tome featuring a biographical story by each student detailing his or her life, with a full page photo of the student in their home environment.
The stories are insightful and touching. For example, Pet writes: “I live with my 43-year-old aunt because, after my father died, my mother married another man and moved to Kompong Kdey village with my older brother. I stayed here in Krobie with my aunt because my grandfather didn’t want me to go with her. My mother died four years ago. My brother is 19 years old and he takes care of the cows. He only finished grade one. He came back to live here with us when my mother died, but he was too old to go back to school.
“My sister is 21 years old and never went to school because she feels she is too old to go. When she was young, my mother told her to stay home and help her with the work at home and taking care of the cows. Now she stays home and makes baskets from rattan. I feel very sad to know that my siblings didn’t get to go to school because they did not have the power to choose for themselves.
“This life was given to them.”