Smiling Hearts Association for Children
Smiling Hearts Association for Children (SHAC) is a charity school set up for disadvantaged children living in Cambodia. The school has 104 students (28 are orphans and 4 are HIV positive) all of whom live in a small commune in Siem Reap. A 10 minute walk from the main tourist hub in Siem Reap, the contrast between life in the city centre and life in the surrounding communes is harrowing; basic facilities that we take for granted aren’t available to the villagers such as medicines, drinking water and education. Schooling is very important for Cambodian children because as more foreigners visit the country and the tourist industry grows there are lots of employment opportunities created for locals. However, without a basic understanding of English, Cambodian people will not be considered for any job meaning they spend their lives trapped in inescapable poverty. As it stands, children have to pay to go to an English teaching school but, in a population where 57% of people are below the poverty line and the average income is £150 per year (40p a day!), many children’s parents simply cannot afford to send them to one of these institutions. This prevention from learning English has a direct and negative effect on their later employment opportunities and so it is essential for these children to be educated in this way.
SHAC was the brainchild of San Somaly (Aly), a woman who couldn’t bear to see the poverty stricken children living in her village without hope of future employment or success. She made the decision to help the children around her and built a school in her back garden a year ago to give them the chance to get an education. Already the children are making great progress and all are grateful to Aly for giving them the opportunity to learn. All of the students call Aly ‘Mum’ because she has given them hope, stability and comfort by building SHAC. The children love being at school and are very enthusiastic in their studies. However, the school relies heavily on the charity of others and needs donations to ensure it can be maintained – without our kindness and willing, Aly could not afford to keep it running. The children’s supplies are very basic but with the help of Hall Green Secondary School, we can hopefully see, and have a direct impact upon, the improvement of these children’s living and working conditions.
The first fundraising activity at Hall Green Secondary School was a non uniform day on the last day of the summer term 2011. We continue to have lots of fundraising activities to help SHAC so if you have any ideas then don’t hesitate to let us know.
To visit the Smiling Hearts website, click here.