Phally Pheng, who became a sponsored child at the age of nine, is dedicated to educating children in northeast Cambodia. “When I was growing up, we didn’t have enough teachers,” she says. “I found this didn’t encourage us to go to school. I wanted to help my community.”
She has done just that for the past four years, teaching a number of grades and a variety of subjects. Her favorite subject is literacy (“I love reading,” she says).
In class, Phally proudly wears a traditional Cambodian dress, but her pride for her students, who are all sponsored, seems most evident. “Through sponsorship, children have a chance to gain knowledge,” she says. “They receive what they need.” Phally is proof—she received what she needed to realize her dream. Phally’s only dream was to become a teacher. “I told my sponsor this and she encouraged me to study hard,” she says.
Phally’s parents were farmers, but they didn’t earn enough to support Phally, and her younger sister and brother. Phally’s parents had to borrow money from her aunt to pay school fees. Until she turned 9 and became sponsored, Phally went to school, but her classes were outside. Her community didn’t have a school building for the children to learn in. With sponsorship, the community changed in many ways.
“There was a lot of development,” says Phally. “World Vision built a well, roads and school buildings.” The well, in particular, made life easier. “We used to fetch water as far as four miles away. But after we had the well, it was easy for us to get water.”
Phally also had a relationship with her sponsor, who sent Phally letters twice a year. “She would ask about my family and my schooling. She wanted to know how I was doing. She encouraged me a lot to study hard.” Phally would write back and tell her sponsor about her life and successes.
Three years after the World Vision was born in 1950, the first child sponsorship program responded to the needs of hundreds of thousands of orphans at the end of the Korean War. With over six decades of presence in Asia, World Vision has witnessed countless former sponsored children grow into men and women who are committed to helping children and their communities.
Photo©2014 World Vision, Paul Bettings