Thong Mi Thona now smiles and works as a volunteer teacher.
Who is she?
That’s what other students wanted to know about Thong Mi Thona. Year after year, she would sit without speaking to her classmates. She never showed emotion—never got too excited or laughed.
Often, she looked sad and deep in thought. She did not join the children’s club or participate in socializing. She struggled to perform well in school.
So who was this girl?
When Food for the Hungry (FH) started working in her village in Cambodia, staff made home visits to all of the families. They had heard about Thong Mi Thona and wanted to find out about her situation.
What they found was that extreme poverty was the root cause of Thong Mi Thona’s sorrow. She wasn’t getting the proper nutrition, which made her lethargic and depressed. She often didn’t feel good as her stomach hurt from hunger pains.
She lacked adequate clothing and felt ugly. She felt like she was dumb and didn’t fit in. Her parents didn’t understand the value of her education, so even though she continued to go to school, she didn’t feel supported. The state in which her family lived made her feel overwhelmed and powerless.
Children in Thong Mi Thona’s class.
When FH staff visited her family, they talked with Thong Mi Thona’s parents. FH staff persuaded them about the value of education and socializing with other children. FH staff encouraged Thong Mi Thona to enroll in FH’s children’s club.
In the club, Thong Mi Thona started to find hope. She felt her eyes opened to new possibilities with God’s truth. “Over there I learned many good things. I feel that God loves all children, including me, no matter if they are rich or poor, pretty or ugly,” said Thong Mi Thona. “I know how to treat other people in a polite way, how to be good student and good daughter, how to keep good personal hygiene.”
In the club, Thong Mi Thona found the scholastic support she needed to help her do better in school. She also learned to socialize and began to feel more connected to other children. “After one year enrolling in children’s club, my study has been improved as my bad feeling has been released,” said Thong Mi Thona. “I am more confident as my weak subjects have improved.”
Now she is in grade 9 and doing so well in school that she was selected by FH staff to be a volunteer teacher for her community. She is replacing FH/Cambodia staff’s role and helping her community to become more independent.
As she is performing well, her mother is very proud of her and supportive of her education. Thong Mi Thona now has hope and a vision for her future.“I will help my community as volunteer teacher,” said Thong Mi Thona. “I grew through children’s club, and I want to see other children becoming next generation of leaders.”
This is the kind of work that you are helping to make possible by partnering with FH. You’re inspiring hope in children by bringing Christ’s message of love to them and setting them on a path to develop their gifts and talents.