Inauguration Of Our School
On May 4, 2022, an inauguration ceremony was held to celebrate the opening of a school for the stateless Vietnamese children living in Kampong Chhnang, Cambodia.
“We’re soo happy that during this Pandemic, we’re able to build a school like this,” said Dr. Mai-Khanh Tran, Chair of The International Humanitarian Missions during the inauguration of the school on May 4. “During our medical missions in 2019, we saw so many children working on fishing boats, cleaning fish, it was so heartbreaking to us, we want to give them a brighter future like our children.”
Young children stood along the streets with anticipation, joy and clapped to welcome guests who walked for the inauguration of Providence Primary School.
The bishops of Phnom Penh and Battambang, together with the Governor of Kampong Chhnang, many government officials, IHM member from the United States and students’ parents attended the occasion in Kampong Chhnang city, about 100 km from the capital, Phnom Penh, Cambodia.
With 3 classrooms – grade 1-3, the school is located in a remote field near the Mekong River (Tonle Sap) in Kampong Chhnang area in Cambodia where many stateless Vietnamese resides. The Primary School was completed in April 2021 and the enrollment began in November with a total of 108 students including 54 girls. The school’s goals is to double the number of students by next year. The school teaches science, social sciences, foreign languages, sports and dance.
Sister Bopha Rong, the principal of the school, said that the primary school follows the curriculum of public schools. She added that students who pass from the school will continue with a government school.
“If students have a birth certificate, they can continue Grade 7, but if not, they can stop. They can find skills for them. This is our process at the present,” she added.
The nun added that the school includes Cambodian, Vietnamese and Khmer-Muslim children who were evacuated from the surface of a lake in Kampong Chhnang province a few years ago.
The government of Cambodia did not allow people to live on the river anymore, so those who are living must move their homes to the land.
“They used to live around water. After they moved away to a newer place, students do not know anything. Even Vietnamese people living in Cambodia do not speak their own language clearly.
Principle Rong added, “after studying for a short time, we see students improved in their communication skills, language and arithmetic competency, social skills and character formation.”
Children attends the primary education for free and the school provides notebooks, lunch, support for their families and a safe place for the children to play at.
At the same time, Principle Rong said that the school also plans to teach adults who are illiterates and wish to study at night.
Representing the authorities as well as on behalf of the entire city leadership, Yin Ven, chief of Kampong Chhnang city, thanked the founders of the school. “Today I am excited and thankful to see some of you flying from the United States to Cambodia to help Cambodia because the country has gone through a long war. We are thankful to all who help the country for its progress.”
Bishop Enrique Figaredo, Apostolic Prefect of Battambang said, “I thank Providence Sisters who always have been active. They go out everywhere in the villages and find the need of people.”
He added that the school is a sign that nuns care for children lacking opportunities and poor parents.
On that occasion, Bishop Figaredo asked children to do three things: try to come to school every day and listen to their teachers. At home, do not forget to practice what they have learned from school and show it to their parents. And lastly, only knowledge does not enough but must be a good people who are honest, compassionate for others, thinking of the common good.
“I wish you, my children, to get bear fruit of knowledge and later we all work together to build a truly peaceful nation,” he said.