Imparting Smiles has been caring for and educating almost 150 kids for almost a decade. This year we had our first girl graduate high school. Kiang, has been a hard worker and dedicated to finishing school. I promised all our kids that if they graduated from High School I would do everything in my power to get them into university. In return, they would have to promise to do everything in their power to study hard and graduate!
Kiang, being our first graduate, I was thrilled to help her think about her education choices. She told me she wanted to be a doctor. Wow, there are only 3 medical schools in Cambodia: Two are government and one is a private school. The best are the government medical schools, however, to get accepted is a huge undertaking. Each year over 6000 students apply to join the program, they only take 100. Most of those 100 pay bribes under the table upwards of $20,000 to get in as well! Not only do I not pay bribes, but I honestly, don’t think Kiang could handle medical school right now because of the quality of high school she came from.
I went around visiting universities like any good parent would and gathering information about their educational programs, costs and other details. I started to weigh each option. I thought about a school about an hour from our Poipet center, called Meanchey university (Meanchey means “victory”), so I made a special trip there to see what information I could gather about the school. When I arrived at the school I asked where the registrar’s office was. One of the professors that I met in a hallway told me I should just meet the president. I told them I didn’t want to bother him, but I was only looking for some information on the school. They insisted I see the president.
I followed the professor into the president’s office. Immediately the President of Meanchey University greeted me with “Hello teacher Steve”.
I was shocked, he knew my name. I had never visited the university before, but I can imagine that he met me at one of the official functions in the province. We had a quick chat and I told him that I had many of our children who would be graduating soon and I wanted to send them to a good university where I could be close enough to help them also. He told me he would be glad to take any student from our center because he had heard about Imparting Smiles and the quality of our care which is reflected in the character of the kids.
Well, I was impressed with this school already. Later, I was talking with the Governor of Banteay Meanchey province and he happened to mention that if we had any children who were old enough for university he would consider it an honor for his office to help submit the paperwork and do whatever they could to see that they kids are successful in life. The following day I gave Kiangs transcripts to the Governor’s office and I didn’t hear any more for several weeks.
Then I got a call from Kiang.
Crying, she told me on the phone that her high school principal had just contacted her and told him that Kiang was accepted to Meanchey University to study a Bachelor in English. She would be allowed to sit for the medical exam coming up in December and if she is successful she will be admitted to medical school. She was so happy. Her former principal was so proud of her and announced it to her school.
Not only that, but the Ministry of Education is also granting her a full scholarship for 4 years of study, additionally, she is entitled to a monthly stipend from the World Bank to support her education.
Now I was crying. What a blessing! Kiang is our first graduate, and a great role model for the other kids at the Imparting Smiles center.
Kiang is the first in her whole family to ever study beyond 9th Grade (a diploma in Cambodia); She is the first of all her relatives to graduate from high school ever; and the only one in her whole village to ever attend University. It’s on days like these that make decades of hard work worth it! I can’t wait to see how God is going to use her in the coming years!
Pray for us as now, we would like to build a dormitory near Meanchey University. In the next 2 years we will have more than a dozen more kids graduating from High School and needing to go to University. We have already located a piece of land and can build a dorm for less than $40,000 within a few hundred yards of the university.