Do you remember the first day of school when the new teachers messed up the pronunciation of your name? I sure do. A chuckle broke out when these new students’ names were announced in school. The names were read out:
- Mote Pote
- Taiow Nik
- Naw Nak
- Drut Yie-ut
- San Ankul
None of the names were familiar to the teachers or students. Upon hearing these strange names the first response was to laugh. It was because these names belong to the first 5 T’moan children to ever go to school! They are the very first in their tribe, EVER, to go to school. They are also the first in their tribe to live outside the main village.
One month ago the five children arrived after two of our leaders gave them a crash course in the Khmer language and alphabet. We also summarized grades 1-4 for them as well in a matter of weeks. They are all between 12 and 14 years old, so we needed to start them in a higher grade so they would not be further ostracized. Having never been to school in their life, they started in 5th grade.
The boys are all struggling, but hopefully they will persevere. They are the first ambassadors of their tribe to the “outside world”. It is not easy. The food is different, the language is different and the scenery is clearly different. Our Imparting Smiles center in Kracheh is “primitive” by most standards (we don’t even have electricity), but facilities which include toilets, concrete sidewalks, painted buildings and solar panels which power computers are overwhelming to these boys whose entire village is built out of bamboo and held together with only vines!
In addition to caring for and educating these five boys, we are also building a school in the main T’moan village where we have two itinerant teachers stationed. In the village school adults and children all study together as they are taught the national language and the Bible.
If you would like to help sponsor a T’moan child at the Imparting Smiles Center, or the school in the T’moan village itself please contact me at [email protected] or [email protected] (for sponsorship information).