Five of our young women are starting university in less than a week! It is so amazing that these girls, once considered nothing, are now discovering the joys of dreaming about their future and what they want to do. They have an opportunity that so few others in Cambodia have- only 56% of Cambodian children continue to high school and 8% to university (UNESCO and IIEP Report, 2011). For us at Ratanak, we are indeed excited for them and proud of their achievements thus far. It’s one of the reasons we have called our community home the “Ratanak Achievement Program Community Home”. These young women have have had to endure much pain, rejection and abandonment, go through years of counseling, and work through ongoing issues related to self-esteem, value and self-worth to get to this point in their lives. They are now living examples that ”we are more than conquerors in Christ.”
As part of their preparation for university, we give each young woman an initial ”education pack”- a small sum of money to buy their school supplies and school uniforms. They are responsible for any subsequent purchases made during the university year, and have to save up their weekly allowance and budget wisely in order to pay for their ongoing supplies. Some of them are also hoping to work part-time so that they can earn extra income. This is all a part of preparing them for independence. Even though it is not easy, it is a necessary step if these young women are really going to develop the resilience and tools needed to live in the real world.
University supplies and school uniforms
So what will these 5 young women be studying? One young woman, “SL”, is planning to study Information Technology. She is already gifted in this area and advises our home advisors when they have questions on different computer programs. Another one of our young women, “C”, is planning to study social work. She had a chance to chat with both our counselors and social workers, asking them about the differences between the two professions. Through those conversations, she discovered that she did not want to be stuck in an office all day long listening to people’s problems, but would much rather be out on the field helping others. Our third young woman, “SN”, is hoping to become a social worker as well. We think she will do well in this area as she has a very gentle presence and a warmth that earns the trust of those around her, especially children. Our fourth young woman, “TY”, wants to be an author/journalist. The other day I saw her trying to translate a very difficult English passage into Khmer. She perseveres and is diligent in making the effort to study despite the challenges before her. Then there is “P”, who received a scholarship for 50% of her tuition fees. She wants to pursue International Relations in hopes of one day becoming an ambassador! Such are the dreams and hopes of these 5 young women who are entering university. Pray for each of them, that this initial enthusiasm and excitement will continue as their studies begin and that they will persevere as they enter a new chapter in their life. After all, it is not how well we start, but how well we finish. God does promise though, that ”He who began a good work in them will complete it.”
Read the full story on Lisa’s blog at http://ratanakmissions.blogspot.ca/