Our Moms Against Poverty (MAP) team in Cambodia recently inaugurated a new soccer field at our school. Sports, especially soccer, play an important role in the education of our children and pave the way for impoverished students to more easily assimilate into MAP’s education program.
Unfortunately, poverty cruelly impacts children’s lives in Cambodia, leading to high student drop-out rate. Chhit Minea’s heart-rending story is a perfect illustration of this. Born in prison, he was forced to leave his mother and the relative stability of the institution and make his own way outside the prison walls at just six years of age. The possibilities for him becoming just one of many abused and trafficked children threatened him. Instead, he became one of the many Cambodian children cared for by the MAP orphan and foster care system and, for the first time, could see a brighter future. In his words, “I was terrified of what would become of me. I had seen things that most adults never experience in a lifetime. It has been a rough road but MAP staff have always been there for me even when I didn’t make it easy on them”.
Parents from underprivileged backgrounds typically depend on their children to supplement or provide the family income. This makes for a huge hurdle when it comes to incentivizing the children and their families to make education a priority. Any approach that can be found to combine fun with learning and reduce the drop-out rate is enormously helpful. The completion of the soccer field is a perfect example of how this works and is so successful. Our team realized that it is not just an ordinary soccer field, but has become an additional English classroom! English vocabulary is taught through playing soccer and vocabulary flashcard training is integrated into the game to engage the students in an effective manner.
Additionally, we have found that by combining soccer with English lessons, the children also learn conflict resolution, respect for others, and gain self confidence. They see for themselves the importance of working as a team. This lays a practical foundation for the theoretical peace and team building workshops that MAP in Cambodia will be conducting in cooperation with Forum Civil Peace Service.
Growth of Outreach through the Creation of a Youth Soccer league
Cambodia still needs a nation-wide system of youth soccer leagues in which teams are organized and can play competitive games against other teams. Cambodians love soccer and the demand for competitive soccer is immense, yet no one can provide it.
However, as of right now MAP’s soccer field in Cambodia serves the education program until 5 pm then after, the soccer field is open to all children. Thankfully, Chhit Minea is more than happy to play soccer and coach the other kids like him. He said, “working as a soccer coach training the younger kids helps me feel important, like I matter. I’ve even started asking the MAP teachers for extra lessons so that I can learn reading and writing in the Khmer language. I would love to learn English too. I now believe that if I keep working hard I can reach all of these goals and maybe even more”. We’d like to thank Chhit Minea for teaching the kids and being an amazing example of what it means to be given a chance to fulfill education in one’s life. We have witnessed time and time again that education is the key to any child’s future, and with our expanding curriculum we hope to reach more children and grant their wish to excel as a student.
MAP in Cambodia is about to launch the first soccer competition in Prek Takov commune. That announcement alone has already created incredible excitement among children in Prek Takov commune. In addition, MAP in Cambodia will be training soccer coaches to improve the skills of the kids and teenagers. Stay tuned for more updates, we appreciate all the support we have received from the Moms Against Poverty community thus far, we do not know what we would do with your support!