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Chan Turk (right) explains the questions
in the textbook to Kan Nai Ky.

Story and Photos by Orn Makara | Training Officer | Heifer Cambodia
Contributions by Prak Somathy |  Networking and Resource Mobilization Manager | Heifer Cambodia

This is the second year for the Value-Based Literacy (VBL) Program for the Strey Tbong Pich women’s group in Cambodia, and despite obstacles including flooding last year, participants worked hard and took their final exams.

The very dedicated literacy participants attended class through the flood of September 2011, even though they had to work extra to make additional income to compensate for their losses from the flood. By the end of September 2012, most of the literacy participants had completed the 12 books and gathered to take the final exam.

Sopheak shares her feeling after
completing the final literacy exam,
“I am so happy that I had the chance
to attend the VBL class. It has helped
me to review my reading, writing
and calculation skills after I dropped
out of school nearly one year ago.”

“What I have learned from the literacy class is related to the values of the 12 Cornerstones (Heifer’s 12 Cornerstones for Just and Sustainable Development),” said 37-year-old Kan Nai Ky, treasurer of Strey Tbong Pich women’s group. “Before joining the group and attending the VBL class, our family had never drunk boiled water. Our house was not hygienic, as we had never cared about waste around our house, and there was no sanitation inside the house. Since studying the literacy book on improving the environment, we know the importance of good hygiene, sanitation and the environment. Now we always boil the water before drinking. Moreover, I can use my skills in writing and calculation to record the savings book of the group. I feel confident as a treasurer in working for the group, and my group members also trust me.”

Eighteen-year-old Youern Sopheak, another VBL participant, said she dropped out of school more than a year ago in grade six because of her family’s poverty. However, she said, she was happy to join the literacy class in her village because she can improve her knowledge in reading the books and improve her writing skills. Moreover, through reading technical books, she is able to learn how to raise animals and plant vegetables productively.

Pream Seoury, 60 years old,
reads a textbook on joining the group.

Sixty-year-old Pream Seoury said, “When I was young I used to attend class at public school, but only in grade two. After that I had no chance to pursue my studies. Now there is the literacy class in my village. I am very happy to attend, even though I am a bit old. It is difficult for me to read and write. The important point for me is the learning about the values of the 12 Cornerstones. We have learned and improved our practice in caring and sharing and animal management.”

Chan Turk, a leader of the Strey Tbong Pich women’s group, sent a message to all the villagers saying it is important to attend the literacy class. She said, “At least we can build our confidence in speaking and sharing knowledge and experience with others. We have the chance to learn how to read and write. We are never too old to learn.”

This program was implemented in partnership with the Cambodian Human Resource Development in the Preahnet Preah district of the Banteay Meanchey province.


Heifer International

Heifer International is a nonprofit, non-governmental organization working with communities to end hunger and poverty while caring for the Earth.