A chance meeting in an exotic land on the other side of the globe. A local guide trying to raise money to build a drinking well in his poor village. Hundreds of Cambodian school children who didn’t have a school to attend, or sometimes enough food, clean water, or medical care.
What unfolded next is truly amazing.
The story begins in April of 2005, when Danny and Pam Spitler visited Siem Reap, Cambodia to see the famous temples of Angkor Wat. During their four-day visit to the area their tour guide was a young Cambodian gentleman by the name of Chea Sarin. Over the course of their visit, it became clear that he cared deeply for the plight of the poor villagers in his country and especially for the children. He told the Spitlers that the lack of clean drinking water was the cause of many health problems among the village children.
At the end of their tour the Spitlers decided to donate enough money to provide one of these wells to a poor village. Sarin sent them photos of the well being built and then when it was finished.
A few weeks later, Sarin asked them if they would consider helping him start a school at a very poor village located about nine kilometers outside of Siem Reap. The Spitlers agreed.
The initial concept was to build one building, using lumber and thatch construction, with a dirt floor. The building would be divided into two classrooms in anticipation of about 60 students. With a construction budget of less than $1,000 Sarin was able to complete the building in just a few weeks and had money left over to build some rudimentary wooden tables, which the students could use for desks.
To the surprise of Sarin and the Spitlers, almost 100 children signed up to attend the school. Classes began in July 2005, and additional students continued to arrive, and soon the school was serving 120 students by offering half the students classes in the morning and the other half in the afternoon. Sarin was able to purchase supplies for the students and the classroom at an average cost of about $1 per student per month, and two well-qualified teachers were hired for salaries of $70 per month each.
Given the response from the village, the Spitlers decided to provide additional funds so that Sarin could build two more buildings and hire four additional teachers. Sarin accomplished all of this within six weeks and when the school opened for the regular school year in September 2005 the school was able to accommodate 190 students in kindergarten through second grade.
Over the years, the Spitler School has continued to flourish and grow, and now a second school, the Kurata School, is open. Thanks to Sarin, the Spitlers, the Spitler Foundation, and donors and volunteers from all over the world, over 800 children are now being educated and given a better chance to get out of poverty. The school also undertakes many community projects like building roads, delivering food, trash pickup and recycling, and medical advocacy for the children.
The Spitlers and Sarin have been recognized as widely as the Cambodian government and the U.S. White House for their efforts but they do it all to give these children a brighter future, not for any accolades. What started out as a chance meeting between strangers from different parts of the world turned into something so meaningful and special to so many people – Cambodia’s school of hope.
This book tells the story of the Spitler School and looks into the lives of the children who attend, their families, their village, and the beautiful, yet challenged, country of Cambodia.
|Title:||Cambodia's School of Hope: How the Spitler School educates and empowers impoverished children in Cambodia|
|Publisher:||Amazon Digital Services LLC|
|File Size (Kindle):||10473 KB|
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