The Impact of Education on Combating Hunger and Poverty in Cambodia

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Hunger. I know what the word means, but when I think back over my life, I'm not sure I've ever really experienced it. World hunger has been something that I knew about in only the most esoteric ways. The magnitude of the problem has always paralyzed me, the causes and solutions so complex and multi-layered I did not even know where to begin. Before making my first donation, I did quite a bit of research on many of the organizations in Cambodia that are really making a difference. I found Cambodian Children's Fund (CCF) to be the one that I think long-term is going to make the biggest difference. The operations of CCF, a not-for-profit organization, was founded in 2004 by former film executive Scott Neeson; after seeing the slums of Phnom Penh, they couldn't turn away from the children whose lives revolved around picking garbage dumps to earn money for food. Today, he serves as CCF's Executive Director, performing daily fieldwork and overseeing the operations of CCF's various facilities. It is the organization that I find with the most successful, concrete, and structured programs that offer Education, childcare, healthcare, nutrition, and safe shelter. I have chosen to donate money because Education is their lifeline out of poverty. Education, more than any other factor, can provide hope, opportunity, and security. The motivation behind donation was simply to be a part of the donor community to raise global awareness.

It was a worthwhile learning experience to help me realize that people only see the good aspects of Cambodia and not the other aspects that we call the 'real' Cambodia, such as a community that lives on a huge rubbish dump. Furthermore, a donation can be both an easy and difficult action to take, especially for university students. Easy because it does not require time and energy-one can simply go online and donate. However, considering the financial situation of university students, it can often become a difficult action. In addition, I have realized that there were several options of how often these donations were going to be one-time, monthly, or annual in the amount range from $25-$2000. In my case, these donations were going to be a one-time contribution of $, 25-especially for people without a stable income, like students.

The CCF has a full range of educational programs for children, from preschool to University sponsorship. Today, CCF cares for more than 1,800 students. With CCF nearing its tenth year in operation, CCF university students are expected to top 100 in 2014-15 to 200 in 2016-17. In Cambodia, it takes such a little effort and a small donation to make such a huge difference in someone's life. In schools funded by CCF, they incentivize students to attend and not skip class by giving nutritionally enhanced bread. With the $25 I am donating, CCF is able to fully funds a child to attend school with two school uniforms, a backpack, school books, transportation and supplies, provide childcare, and pay for five medical treatments at CCF Medical clinic. On the contrary, I initially expected that an increased amount of teaching supplies and resources would allow more students to have access to Education. However, through my correspondence with Anthony Karge, I found out that the major problem does not relate to the number of supplies available but rather the issue of being granted permission by more schools to come in and teach. Cambodia has been hit hard by civil war and political unrest, which has directly affected the social status of the nation. In past regimes, those in power have oppressed those without, and this has had huge implications on the country, such as the genocide that occurred in the 1970s by the Khmer Rouge. Furthermore, with the constant change of regimes and instability, the education system has been left to suffer and is still in the process of recuperation, making it even more difficult for the citizens of Cambodia.

I believe that my contribution will make a small impact by providing better resources for the teachers to use in their classes as many of the teachers are underpaid, so they charge the students, which cause access to Education even harder. In addition to that, where students cannot go to school, the monthly cash support allows CCF to build basic classrooms where these kids live so they can have a chance to learn without having to travel anywhere, as many of the children in Cambodia have to work to support their family. The classes are free and cover English, math, Khmer, and social studies. Moreover, knowledge of the English language has the ability to open up much more job opportunities in tourism, such as owning a store or market stall or acting as a tour guide or driver.

The most important idea that I have learned and come to understand is that the mission to end world hunger and poverty is not one step that can be taken but rather a process. The problem cannot be tackled by a simple action such as sending food aid which would only temporarily feed a small malnourished population. Rather, the hope of ending this sad situation is the Education of the new generation. Contributing to this, studies have found that approximately 86% of mothers in Cambodia have received less than primary Education, if any at all. This is problematic since it has been found that the probability that a child will be malnourished can be reduced by up to 40% depending on how many years their mother has attended school (United Nations WFP, 2006). Literacy and Education show a positive correlation with living conditions for women and their children, along with knowledge of improved child feeding practices, food preservation, and better sanitation (FAO Statistical Yearbook, 2012). Also, educated mothers tend to get married later and have fewer children (United Nations WFP, 2006). Unlike food aid, Education has a more permanent effect and has the potential to change the fate of future generations by ending the poverty cycle.

Moving forward, there are countless actions that we can take in our everyday lives in regard to improving the issue of world hunger. For example, getting involved with international aid organizations located closer to home, making more vegetarian choices, and reducing waste. In addition to that, I am hoping that I can sponsor children in Cambodia and visit CCF to gain insight into their organization. I will soon be moving on from the topic of world hunger and will be focusing my attention on various other environmental or social justice issues. But I will not forget world hunger. I do believe this experience has changed me, and now that my eyes have been pried open by the harsh reality of this problem, I can never again close them.

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The Impact of Education on Combating Hunger and Poverty in Cambodia. (2023, Mar 09). Retrieved April 13, 2024 , from
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