Each year Cecelia Beirne, a long-term CCF volunteer with a background in structured finance and math education, leaves New York and heads to Cambodia to teach 8 week long financial education courses. The classes are usually taught to older CCF students who are studying at university or undertaking vocational training.

A graduate from a previous course sent Cecelia an email recently, asking her to share her story. It’s such a strong testament to how educating a child can impact an entire family.
“Dear Cecelia

I would like to share my story to you and another friends.

Last year I had study with you and when I go home I share what I have learn to my parents. And I suggested them follow me. I told them how to do the budget and saving money. First I don’t think they accept my idea but when I go home next day they told me it is a great idea. They try to follow and doing our daily expense. I think don’t have more people can do it but I want to share them it is a good experience.

Before my family don’t have house and land. We’re living with our grandparents in Kompot province. We often spend money on unimportant things, and sometime waste money on everything

But now we have enough money to buy a new land at Kompot province (homeland). We plan to build a house after Happy Khmer New Year. I’m so excited to see my family better than before.

Best regard, Mina.”
Cecelia says that it is common for CCF students to think first about their families when it comes to making a budget.

“The CCF students recognize their financial responsibilities to their families” says Cecelia. “I marvel at the various ways that they plan their first budgets – snacks and family always on the list. Mina also shares newly acquired information with family and friends, as do many of the students.”

“The course has evolved over my four stays here to reflect the real local economy – what things cost, how and where people save, ways in which they borrow money. The purpose of the course, Personal Finance, is to prepare students to manage their money when they graduate or leave CCF. We talk about budgeting, saving money and debt management; we do as many hands on exercises as possible.”

“My goal is for them to believe that they have control – they can reach their goals, achieve their dreams if they plan, save and avoid crippling debt. Their transition to the world of work can be a difficult one, especially since they have little or no experience handling money, and community lenders are often their “safety net” at a very high price.

Mina is 20 years old, studying Management at National University of Management. Her career goal is to be a manager at a company or organization. Cecelia says her money is on Mina.

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