Make a Direct Impact on Students’ Lives
Svay Rieng University prides itself on providing an affordable education to Cambodia’s students, particularly those from the underserved eastern half of the country. However, some families still struggle to support their children’s studies due to economic hardship or family obligations. The Cambodian Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport provides some scholarships based on national exam performance, but these scholarships do not always cover all needs or reach all students. SRU offers multiple options to assist students who demonstrate a passion for learning and may not be able to pursue an education otherwise.
The SRU Scholarship Scheme was established by university teacher and advisor Bill Shields in 2015. The scheme focuses on young women from poor families in Svay Rieng province, providing them with full-ride scholarships throughout their four years of education. Bill works with colleague Hem Suntrakwadh and a team of SRU alumni – Lay Vechanak, Heng Soma, Vorn Veasna, and Tep Sousdey – in order to meet and identify bright young women who could benefit from the scholarship. Bill has identified a network of generous sponsors from New Zealand and Finland, who have also donated additional funds to purchase bedding, kitchen utensils, books and stationery for the girls’ dormitories. One sponsor also paid for all the young women to have a holiday at Takeo, Kampot and Kep in 2018.
Jill Ford and her partner David Smith of New Zealand sponsor four young women to study information and technology at SRU. They are currently assisting two women in the Class of 2021 and another two in the Class of 2022.
“Where you are born is a lottery, and for many children in places like Cambodia options and education are very limited, even more so for girls. David and I have both been to Cambodia, and when I was there three years ago, I cycled in small villages and saw the poverty. I have heard how many girls end up in either the sex industry or being exploited in factories. So I wanted to be able to help girls from poor backgrounds to have a better future, and education is the way out of poverty. My mother was made to leave school at 14. I didn’t get a great education but managed to get to university. And that meant I had more opportunities. I can’t change the life of every girl but am grateful for the opportunity to help these girls so they hopefully can have a better future.”
The Cambodian Compassion Fund brings together a collection of teachers, a doctor, physiotherapist, counsellor and others from New Zealand who aim to have a lasting impact on Cambodian youth. By pooling together their funds, this group has been able to sponsor four young women currently enrolled at SRU.
“The Cambodian Compassion Fund members are a small group of people who wish to make a difference in the lives of young Cambodians who are disadvantaged. The group first worked with Volunteer Service Abroad NZ in 2009, and raised funds for children in a local orphanage for 10 years. Over this time, the children were given school uniforms and materials, toiletries, clothing, games equipment etc. Their living circumstances were upgraded and beds and bedding were donated. When the orphanage eventually closed, the members still wished to support the young people in Cambodia, so we joined the SRU Scholarship Scheme to help young rural women gain a tertiary education that would otherwise be an impossible dream. The members believe that education is the key component to achieving change in their lives and futures, not only for themselves, but for their children as well.”
If you wish to contribute to the SRU Scholarship Scheme, please contact Bill Shields.