Help Me Build a Cambodian Library

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

I have been here in Cambodia working with my community for over a year and a half. In this post, I begin a new project; one that I hope you can help me with.

Peace Corps volunteer Rich Durnan with students at the Roh Minh High School, Takeo Provence, CambodiaUPDATE!
The grant for this project has been fully funded thank to your generous donations, thank you! If you wish to support other projects like this please visit the Cambodia Volunteer Projects site here.
Read about the projects completion here.

A few months ago, I was approached by Samon, one of the schoolteachers at my village’s high school with a request to help the school. Although I have not been doing any work with the school, word made it to them that I was helping the community through the health center. Samon told me that the school director wanted to know if I could help the school too.

 “What do you need?” I asked.

“We need books for our library” he said.

Library room at the Roh Minh High School, Takeo Provence, Cambodia
This is the current library.

Roh Minh, Takeo Provence, Cambodia

Outdated Library text books in CambodiaThe high school has 1,157 students enrolled in grades 7 – 12. Currently, the book collection consists of 340 outdated Ministry of Education texts, and a handful of Khmer language reading books stored on a few decapitated bookshelves. There are no visual resources, reference, fiction, or non-fiction books. Children in the school here are expected to learn using only a single textbook. I cannot imagine if my school had been like this. In order for children to become independent readers, effective communicators, and lifelong learners, they need to practice reading, and have exposure to a variety of texts. However, this school’s limited financial resources prohibit expanding their book collection on their own.

I think in the US, we take reading and books for granted. I know I do. When I grew up, my parents read books to me, and later when I learned to read myself, there were always books available to me. If I want to read a book now, I just go get one. I buy one from the store, or borrow one from my local library. None of these options are available to any one in my village. Reading for pleasure is really just not an option. Can you imagine your life, or your child’s life without books?

students at the Roh Minh High School, Takeo Provence, Cambodia

Books to someone who knows nothing of the world beyond the bounds of their families rice fields will be invaluable. Books can provide an opportunity for students to improve their reading skills and vocabulary. Additionally, exposure to the greater world through the gift of reading can empower students, and help them realize their potential for successful futures.

Library room at the Roh Minh High School, Takeo Provence, Cambodia
My intent is to build up the school’s library. I want to provide them with reading materials, and a safe space to learn. I will renovate the space, and most importantly purchase a variety of age-appropriate reading materials, in both English and Khmer. These new resources will support the opportunity to expand upon the Ministry of Education’s curriculum, and encourage extracurricular reading.  A selection of reference materials, new curriculum-based resources, visual materials such as posters and world maps, and a selection of fiction and non-fiction novels will allow the students access to information beyond the bounds of their school textbooks. It will enable and promote the simple practice of independent daily reading through which they can learn. Access to reading materials will benefit the teachers as well providing them with resources to improve their own knowledge, and supplement their class curriculum.

I need to raise $780 for the purchase of the new library resources. If you would like to help support this effort and the students of my community, please donate to this project. All donations are US tax deductible.

UPDATE!
The grant for this project has been fully funded thank to your generous donations, so the link above is no longer active, thank you! If you wish to support other projects like this please visit the Cambodia Volunteer Projects site here.

students at the Roh Minh High School, Takeo Provence, Cambodia
On behalf of the students, thanks for your help creating this opportunity for independent study, pleasure reading, and instilling motivation to continue the pursuit of education.

6 responses to “Help Me Build a Cambodian Library”

  1. Andy says:

    Another amazing project Rich! Astounding that you will be able to do so much with so little. Our donation has been made. I’m sure you will reach your objective in short order. Best of luck with a project that hits me close to home! Hope you are as happy and healthy as the selfie might indicate:)

  2. Connie says:

    My donation has been made! Good work!

  3. Barbara and Tim says:

    Keep up the good work! Our donation has been made.

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