St Paul’s sponsored “Book Tuk-Tuk” has been changing lives in the slums of Phnom Penh since its operation in 2017. It educates children giving them invaluable tools to aid them in leaving the slums to make a better life for themselves and their families.
The “Book Tuk-Tuk” is a mobile classroom driven around the slums by a representative of Flame Cambodia – a charitable organisation who support, care and educate children in the slums until they enter the workforce – to children who would otherwise never receive education. The tuk-tuk was funded by St Paul’s community through student-led fundraising initiatives held throughout the year.
“We are starting to hear some great success stories about how this education is benefiting children into better futures,” says Revd Peter Rickman, who heads the service programme at St Paul’s and liaises with Flame Cambodia.
One such story is that of a young 11-year-old boy named Phea (pronounced Peah) who has been going to Flame’s after-school centres for a year and a half, but still isn’t attending school. Phea comes from a broken family, his mum and dad separated and left him with his six-year-old sister Choryee. Their primary caregiver is their grandma, who earns money by pulling a cart around the city collecting plastic bottles and cardboard for recycling.
Phea is enrolled at one of the Flame education centres, but cannot attend school as he doesn’t have a birth certificate. His grandma attempted to get him one, but at a cost of $25USD and they simply couldn’t afford it. It is a heart breaking story of hardship but sadly this is not uncommon in these areas.
However, life is about to change significantly for Phea and his family. Flame have found a donor who is committed to helping the family, which includes educating both children and extra income for their grandma who will lose their assistance with her job in collecting recyclables. The donor has committed to help fund this family until the children graduate.
“These are real lives being changed through the work of Flame and the partnership with St Paul’s Collegiate School.
“These stories give the work of the service programme at St Paul’s real purpose,” says Revd Peter Rickman.