By Amelia Poxon, CARE Communications Coordinator, July 2010
Mr Kim Neat is a kind, community-minded man with a youthful twinkle in his wiseeyes. He is committed to seeing his village in Cambodia’s south-west prosper, andhas spent many of his adult years volunteering his time, patience and enthusiasm tomake sure it does.
I started teaching as a volunteer. I was very happy because it fitted with my favourite activity: teaching, to me it is like a hobby,’ he says.
Neat now teaches participants in CARE’s WE BLOOM program, which is giving marginalised youth who didn’t get the opportunity to finish school – most often because their families couldn’t afford it - another chance.‘
We teach a literacy class which follows the state program and with CARE we get some support with the management and the materials,’ he says.
Students are also taught numeracy and take a life skills class before receiving vocational training tohelp them open their own small business or start an apprenticeship.
Neat and the other teachers give students the skills and confidence to do more with their young lives than they thought was possible, and Neat has formed a strong mentoring relationship with many past students who are now in the workplace for thefirst time.
'I have a very good relationship with the students, so I stay on monitoring theirlearning, literacy and their life skills when they start working. I am volunteering myselfto monitor the students in these life skills,’ he says.
‘I’m very happy with this program, it is very good for the community. I have observedchanges in the young people’s behaviour, knowledge and their interactions in thesociety.
’Neat is a proud father himself, he lives in a modest home with his wife, daughter and son, and has great hopes for their future. ‘I believe my children are very smart interms of education and in terms of living standard. I hope that they will have a good future. Now they look very young but they are in sixth grade already and they are very smart,’ he boasts proudly.
It’s little wonder that Neat’s children are still in school despite the relatively high cost that causes many children to only make it to second grade – their father places a huge importance on education. He not only volunteers his time to teach, he also volunteers his front porch as a village reading corner.
‘Students come here to read or borrow a book to read at home. When it’s the dry season the amount of people coming to read here and the people who take books home is equal but when it’s the rainy season not so many people come to the library,they only borrow to read at home,’ he says.
CARE provides the books for Neat’s little library, and he always makes sure hechanges them over each week so the community have new titles to enjoy. He is the heartbeat of his community, and despite getting on in age, his gift of education to thestudents and his children will live on for many years to come.