Happy Khmer New Year: Home for the Holidays

It’s early morning at the Cambodian Children’s Fund facilities and there’s a flurry of activity. Normally students are preparing for class, eating breakfast or playing with their classmates. This time it’s something different.

Pickup trucks are full of rice. The vans are full of eager children. It’s the Khmer New Year and more than 1,500 students are on their way back home to see family and enjoy two weeks off from school.

The New Year is a time for prayer and family. Phnom Penh empties out, as most residents have family roots beyond the capital city. At CCF, organizing the trip home for students is a thorough undertaking due to the sheer amount of children involved. Hundreds of parents were called to confirm the arrival of the children, and students received bags of rice and some spending money to bring back home. On the road, a CCF staffer was on each vehicle to help the young travelers.

It’s an important holiday, not just because it’s the longest school break of the year, but for the opportunity for students to connect with their families. The four elements that comprise CCF are education, health care, nutrition and safe shelter. Holding all that together is the connection to family and the dedication to providing a full house for the children to grow up in. Involving the family in all aspects of the children’s life – and vice versa – is the key to helping the entire family lift themselves out of poverty.

The majority of children CCF cares for are former garbage pickers and primary caretakers of their siblings, living and working on Phnom Penh’s former municipal garbage dump. Phnom Penh is a city full of people from other parts of the country, as many residents come to work or study while maintaining strong ties with their hometowns. The city becomes oddly quiet compared to the usual bustling streets. Not everyone in the city leaves for the holiday. For the few students with nowhere to go, a variety of trips are planned, including visits to nearby temples and the National Museum.

No matter where you are for the holiday, everyone at the Cambodian Children’s Fund would like to wish you a Happy New Year. Thank you for your continued support

8.4.2013.Photo2 8.4.2013.Photo1

 

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