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Life in Cambodia: Hope for the Future

Somehow Cambodia’s exhausting past with impossible hardships has not stolen hope from the people of Pursat and their children. David Pred continues, “Today, as my 18-year-old friend Rotanak tells me, ‘the children of Cambodia want peace, not war.’ As they struggle to maintain their fragile peace, the Cambodian people are also struggling to rebuild their war-torn country and bring prosperity to their families - a third of whom subsist on fifty cents or less each day, and most of whom do not have access to adequate shelter, clean water, nutritious food, health care, and an education that will allow them to find a decent job. The children I have met here are thirstier for knowledge than they are for water on a parched Cambodian summer day. They understand that knowledge is the key to giving hope to their families who have suffered so much already, to giving hope to their country that deserves so much more. The proud people of Cambodia desperately want to help themselves, but cannot because so many of them lack access to the basic necessities of life. They need help from outside.”

“Yesterday I sat in on the English class and watched these eager students show off how much they had learned in the last eight months. Like their proud on-looking parents in the back of the class, I was extremely impressed with the results. After passing out some school supplies that I brought from Phnom Penh, I told the students and their parents that I would do my best to help find new sponsors and expand the reach of the program. I told them that I had also promised Bruce, who is currently studying for a Masters degree in human rights law in Budapest, that I would work on getting the program registered as an official charitable organization in Cambodia with a sister non-profit organization in the States that would act as fiscal sponsor. These efforts are already underway. After I spoke, each child stood up individually, bowed to me with the palms together Buddhist sign of respect, and said ‘Thank you, Uncle David.’ One by one, their parents followed by offering their thanks and praise in Khmer. One began to cry as she told me she didn't have the words to describe her happiness that foreigners like Bruce and me cared so much about her people who are so poor, and are giving her children the opportunity to go to high school and university.

Another man exclaimed the great generosity of the American people. And another told me that finally, in this life, he had some hope. I felt ashamed to be the recipient of such incredible gratefulness, as I had offered them little more than a promise. But it was a promise I intend to make good on.” It is our shared promise to Pursat to accompany these families on their path to self-sustaining, quality lives.