Samaritan's Purse Pedals for Pupils program is helping middle school students stay in class in Cambodia
The odds seem stacked against 14-year-old Lay Chann Leap finishing her education. She lives in the impoverished Cambodian province of Banteay Meanchey on the border of Thailand, where only 40 percent of those eligible enroll for grades 7–9 and only 17 percent enroll for grades 10–12. She is also an orphan, cared for by her grandparents along with her younger brother. Their parents died as the result of a work accident about four years ago.
But, with a determined spirit, encouragement from her teachers, and now the help of Samaritan’s Purse, Leap has more than a fighting chance to pursue education.
Her secondary school (grades 7-9) is among those participating in our Pedals for Pupils program. Many poor families in Banteay Meanchey cannot afford any means of transportation for their children to get to school, and there isn’t a bus.
So, selected families of needy secondary school students who live more than two kilometers, or 1.2 miles, from their school can lease a bicycle from Samaritan’s Purse for about $5 US the first year—less than 50 cents a month. If, during that time, the child maintains good grades and attendance, then the bike becomes theirs as a gift. We provide all beneficiaries with helmets and road safety training.
Pedals for Pupils is a simple project, but it’s one with lasting ramifications. A more educated community is likely to see business success and innovation, as well as important improvements in health. Education is also a deterrent to illegal migration and child labor, which are significant problems in the area. And, as Samaritan’s Purse has a number of projects in Banteay Meanchey Province, Pedals for Pupils is another bridge for our staff and local church partners to share the Good News of salvation in Jesus Christ.
Leap had become accustomed to riding three kilometers (1.9 miles) on the back of her friend’s bike each school day. In the rainy season, muddy paths made their route especially difficult, but Leap patiently persevered. Sadly, when her friend couldn’t go to school, Leap couldn’t go to school either.
A good student and an elected leader in her class—well liked both by students and teachers—Leap was excited when earlier this year she learned Pedals for Pupils was coming to Kob Thom School. Hopeful that she would qualify for the program, she anxiously waited a few days for the big announcement.
When the principal finally notified her that she was among 42 students selected for the bike distribution, Leap was overjoyed. She said she is dedicated to studying well and taking good care of her new bicycle.
“Many thanks to Samaritan’s Purse,” she said. “I can’t forget about this. May God bless every project of yours with success.”
Please pray for Lay Chann Leap, her family, and the Kob Thom School. Pray for our staff in Cambodia as they minister in a predominately Buddhist culture.