HOB Tel is a sixteen year old girl from the Brov ethnic minority community in Cambodia’s most north-eastern province of Ratanak Kiri. The youngest of seven siblings, Tel lives with her parents and older brother in the commune of Tavaeng Leu. Her parents are both farmers, tending the land to provide for their family. With the nearest secondary school over thirteen kilometres away and no motorbike or bicycle, Tel faces many challenges to continuing her education.
Fortunately, thanks to scholarships provided by CARE Cambodia, Tel started Grade 8t in Tavaeng Leu lower secondary school in October 2013. In a class of thirty seven, there are twenty eight boys and nine girls. The scholarship has provided Tel with an opportunity to stay at the school six days a week, while she returns home on foot to help her family for the seventh.
Her typical school day starts at five thirty in the morning. The students get up, clean their accommodation, wash laundry and fetch water for the toilet facilities on the school premises. When these chores are done, the students cook breakfast together in the kitchen area and get ready for school at seven o’clock. Lunch is at twelve where the students again work together to cook food.
After eating Tel relaxes, studies or reads a book in one of the three shelters built by previous students. At two o’clock, its back to class for two more hours until four in the afternoon. At night the sleeping accommodation for girls is situated in the library room in the school building.
Tel has many friends at school, including another girl in Grade 8 who also receives a scholarship through CARE. They are from different villages but are both Brao so they speak the same language at home. Tel and her friend were selected in a two stage process. The first stage consisted of an interview with a panel of CARE employees and the school director. The second was a weighted application form with different scores allocated for different criteria. Tel believes this selection process was fair as she says the scores are based on real criteria and reflect each individual situation.
The provision of food, clothes and school materials through CARE’s scholarship provides a great relief to Tel and her parents. She says that without the scholarship, her parents would not be able to financially support her education. Tel also stated that the provision of food by CARE and the onsite cooking facilities means that she does not have to absent herself from school in order to provide for herself and her parents. This means she is able to focus on her studies without other pressures to distract her.
Tel’s favourite subject is Khmer and her plans for the future are bright. Her aspirations for her community include more development and less poverty. For herself, she would like to finish secondary school and attend a teacher training college in order to return to Tavaeng Leu as a teacher, have a family and teach indigenous ethnic minority students like herself.