Be the Change Network

aka "Kari's Blog"

Archive for November, 2012

I want to help children

November 14, 2012 By: karig2 Category: General No Comments →

My name is Thy Srey Leo. I am 16 and in the 11th grade at Kampong Speu High School. I was ranked 10th place out of 89 students at my school last year. I am from Krang Tbaing. I have a hard time with Math, Physics, and Chemistry.

My dad is a land mine survivor. Land mines are still a very real threat in Cambodia. My dad had to have his leg amputated above the knee. Because of that, many villagers think that I should stay at home and help him with farming in the rice fields, instead of going to school. I know they think that he needs my help, but my parents disagree with them and want me to stay in school.

In my hometown, there are no licensed practitioners, and no facilities. More often than not, villagers don’t seek help when they are sick because they know they can’t afford it. They will resort to using old remedies involving herbs and roots instead. There is birth control available for free, because there are organizations that provide it, but no one wants to use it because they say it makes them sick. Therefore, they fall back to their habits, which includes having a lot of children.

I’m studying to be a nurse because this is such a remote area that no one wants to work here. I want to be a nurse so I can provide proper care to my family and other villagers when they need it. I especially want to help children. The use of midwives is common here, but very dangerous. I want to make sure that mothers will have proper health care.

Before, I wasn’t sure that I could make it because I had never studied before, and I had never left home. Now I feel more confident and I hope that I can complete my degree and go back home to help my people.

Thank you to Sustainable Schools International’s scholarship program for providing the school tuition, books, and most importantly making me stronger morally. I hope to put what I have learned to good use in the future.


Thy Srey Leo

I Want to Educate People

November 13, 2012 By: karig2 Category: General No Comments →

November 13,2012

My name is Chea Srey Pum. I am 17 years old from Kos Phneo Province. I am in 11th grade studying at Kampong Speu High School.

I am doing very well in school. Last year I was ranked 3rd out of 83 students. My most challenging subjects are Math, Chemistry, and Physics.

In the history of my hometown in the remote Oural District, no girls have ever left home to pursue a profession. Many villagers had chided me, talking down to me and telling me I wouldn’t amount to anything because I was a girl, and on top of that, very poor. The villagers told me to stay home and help my parents instead.

In my town, the health care facility is very run down. Villagers would have to travel 87km or three hours on bad roads to get to the nearest facility in a neighboring town. Often times they cannot afford the travel or treatment, and end up dying.

There are a few organizations that have tried to educate people on birth control, but not many villagers understand or agree with it. Many also falsely believe that taking the pills will make them sick or have an adverse effect on their health for many years to come.

I want to become a nurse because I want to educate people. I want to improve the health care system so that is accessible to all, not just those who are living in the capital or those who have money. I want to be able to save lives.

I used to be very shy, and afraid of the city lifestyle. Now I have overcome my fears, and Sustainable Schools International has helped me become more brave and confident. I am taking our core values- honesty, solidarity, participation, communication, and trust- with me every step of the way. I am now a better person and I hope to return to my hometown to share these values as it relates to our every day living, not just health care.

I would like to thank the scholarship program for presenting me with this opportunity. Without the program, I would never be able to realize my dreams. My sister accepted a position in Malaysia, but I can’t imagine being anywhere but Cambodia. I love my province and it is my dream to return home to help those who didn’t have the means to further their education.


Chea Srey Pum

Visions of an Angel

November 13, 2012 By: karig2 Category: General No Comments →

November 13, 2012

My name is Ven Chan Thou. I am 19 years old. I am a female student from Prey Phdeo. I am studying Nursing at International University in Phnom Penh Thmey through Sustainable School International’s scholarship program.

The challenge that I am currently facing is English. In my class, the terminology used is in English and Khmer, but I struggle with comprehension when English is used. However, the most challenging part is not the communication barrier because of the English language. At first, I was disheartened by the disparaging remarks made by my fellow villagers and neighbors, who continually discouraged me by insisting that young women such as myself belong at home performing domestic duties rather than continuing their education.

However, now my fellow villagers admire me and encourage their children to follow my example by pursuing higher education. In my town, there is a small health care facility which is dilapidated and at times unattended. For this building to be empty, without supplies, medicine, and the necessary personnel to run the facility, is sadly commonplace.

Only a small number of villagers practice birth control regularly. Many others claim that it causes them to feel ill, which deters them from using it on a regular basis. As a result, these villagers continue to have more and more children, without realizing the damaging effects that this will have on them financially. In an already poor village with little education, parents are more concerned with feeding their families than preventing them from growing.

I want to be a nurse because I have had visions of myself as an angel, caring for ill patients in my hometown and comforting them while they are sick.

I hope that when I graduate I can return to my hometown and fulfill my dreams of turning around our shabby health care facility and turning it into a clean, comfortable, reliable source of health care for the many people who need it most.

Sustainable Schools International has provided me not only with hope, but with valuable life lessons such as participation, communication, honesty, trust, and solidarity. The most important part which resonates with me the most is that I will use my new found skills to improve the lives of people in my hometown.

Thank you to Kari, Om Paul, and everyone involved, especially the students in Saudi Arabia, who have been working hard to raise money and help me to go to school. I would never have been able to do this on my own.


Ven Chanthou

New Teachers At Bonteay Pranak Express Thanks

November 07, 2012 By: karig2 Category: General No Comments →

My name is Vav Vichet, 21years old male teaching geography and home economics. I am one of the teachers who works at Bunteay Pranak in Trapang Chor Commune, Aural District, Kampong Speu Province. I am a new employee who just graduated from Teacher Training Institution, Kandal Province.

I had no idea where I will be sent to work after I graduated. What I know for a fact was that in Aural District there will be many challenges and difficulties: Far away from everything, bad road, fewer students, teachers have no place to stay and schools are far from the market etc.

When I first arrived, it was unusual and surprised me to learn that at Bonteay Pranak School is exceptional. It made me feel happy and overjoyed to see school without garbage and full of students. It has a house for the teachers to stay, kitchen, many different house hold items, many large water containers, garbage cans, electricity, fish pond and many other different things.

The result of all the items described above were made possible because of all the effort and a lot of money invested by SSI. This organization focus so much on educational system in Cambodia, especially in this remote place.

I would like to say thank SSI’s team and SSI founder for giving hope to the teachers and students alike in this remote area. I wish SSI all the best for everything.
From, Vav Vichet

My name is Mang Narin, I teacher Khmer. Before I arrived at Bunteay Pranak Secondary, I was very worried a great deal about where to stay and wondering if this school has a place for me to live or not. Was there any water or electricity? If they don’t have place for me, I will have a hard time. Therefore I might not be able to do a good job in teaching and educating the students. On top of that, I am sure that I will not come to work on time and in a regular basis because I live too far away from school and have not place to stay for the conveniency.

When I came to this school, I saw that it was just the opposite from my concerns. This school has everything: teacher housing, water, solar system for electricity, restroom, fish pond, especially flower garden, new planned trees and the clean school yard with no garbage pollution.

To see how wonderful place it was, made me feel extremely happy and wanted to do my best to teach. Students seem to enjoy participating in supporting us. They brought vegetable, fruits, and other thing. to school.

Now I don’t have to worry about my living arrangement any more. This accommodation makes me want to work hard. I want to find the best way to attract a lot of students to attend this school regularly and to be on time. I will do my best to get involved with the projects in hoping to build and improve this school to its best.

Lastly, I would like to say thank to SSI for providing all the necessities including the kitchen, water, electricity and place to stay. I especially want to express my thank toward Om Paul for putting his best effort to making sure our needs are being considered closely because all of us are teachers who come to work far from home. In addition, I want to wish SSI founder and supporters, Om Paul and their families, best of luck, safety, prosperity and success.

From Mang Narin


My name is Sum Sophea, a student from Teacher Institution Hun Sen in Kandal Province. I graduated on August 26, 2012. I was assigned to work at Bunteay Pranak Secondary School in Tropang Chor commune, Aural District, Kampong Speu Province.

Before I arrived at this school, my family and I were worried about many different things: school is far away from home, spend a lot of money on necessary items. I’ve heard that in Aural District there is malaria and the road is difficult to travel. On top of all that, it would be hard for me to continue my study in Phnom Penh.

But, when I got to the school, I found out that SSI organization provided place to stay, electricity, restroom, utensil and place to bath etc. The teacher house was separated from the kitchen. There is tamarind tree in front of the house with benches to enjoy reading or just relax. Many trees are planted and beautiful flowers bed beside the building. On the north, we have fish pond. Recently there were more flowers added in the front and the water tank is in a process to construct.

All of these good results comes from SSI’s kindness and the participation of Om Paul who is a good leader and Sem Kong. Om Paul has a very creative ideas. He has clear vision on his activities.

Everything that I described above contributes a big part in helping me. It makes me feel extremely happy knowing that SSI has done the best it can to support the teachers.

Lastly, I would like to be part of the team working with SSI. I will do my best to take care what we have. I will search and learn good teaching technique to explain the students so they could lean. I wish all SSI’s personnel best of luck and good health.

From, Sum Sophea

Look Who Showed Up At This Event

November 07, 2012 By: Kari Category: General No Comments →

IMG_2176On October first, in the village of Chrauk Tiek, the school principal and his team of teachers organized a gala welcome back ceremony for the first day of school, even renting a fancy tent and chairs for the special occasion. Another sign of new attitude and enthusiastic approach. They invited education officials, parents, principals and teachers from neighboring schools. Even though it’s the busy rice planting season, there was an amazing turn out of more than 500 people, including officials, parents, principals, teachers and students from all three schools.

IMG_2185SSI’s program director, Paul Chuk spoke with the crowd about taking ownership and responsibility for their kids” future and the future of their communities. He said, “the success of this school is because of someone named Kari Grossman, who dedicated and committed herself to improve the school system in this village. We appreciate her very much, however, Kari will not succeed alone; all of us have to get involved if we care about our kids’ future.” Paul encouraged other schools to use Chrauk Tiek’s success as a model to improve their own.

Sem Kong was introduced as Paul’s successor, and the crowd applauded him KongFamilywith warm and welcoming expressions. Kong continues to work closely with all three schools and their communities, he is well received at all levels. The students like his personality and the fact that he is from their village and a home-grown, next-generation leader.

In addition to Kong”s wide range of skills, from electrical and small engine repair, to woodworking and computers, everyone is impressed by his honesty and integrity. Kong will continue to learn, develop, and lead to become part of the solution so there will be many good schools for all children in this district.

Sustainability Factor: Homegrown leaders inspire everyone to get involved.

Check out what Sem Kong’s parents have to say in this kongsparentsthumbVIDEO.