Follow Us

Education - The benefit of school library for students

Transforming a Cambodian School: A Teacher’s Story of Hope

Share this Story


A school in Cambodia with struggling students, few resources, and poor hygiene has become a community-changing success thanks to donors who partnered with Food for the Hungry (FH).

‘Sad and Depressed’ to ‘Very Happy’

The elementary school in Thnorl, Cambodia, educates grades one to six in a wooden building with three classrooms and a metal roof. Grade one teacher Samoun says poor conditions at the school left him “sad and depressed.” But now, after nearly seven years of working closely with FH, he is “very happy” about the transformation of his school and community.

“We faced some problems such as lack of teaching materials, toilet facilities, not having story books for students to read, and students not understanding about body hygiene and attending school regularly,” he recalls.

Education - The benefit of school library for students
The students and staff of Thnorl Primary School.

The students were living in poverty, and their school was unable to meet their needs. Without community support and impactful funding, the students lacked proper education and discipline.

“They always threw garbage around because they did not know how to keep it properly. They did not know how to play nicely with their friends.”

Dissatisfied parents began withdrawing their children from the remote, rural school, which received little government support. The lack of learning materials resulted in poor student performance, causing parents to lose faith in the teachers’ abilities and the benefits of schooling.

Samoun and concerned teachers looked for partners to help and found FH, as Cambodia is one of 19 countries where FH focuses its efforts. He was impressed with FH’s network of experts and appreciated the initial collaboration with school management and teachers to address the root causes of the school’s educational opportunities.

Gains for Students, Teachers, and Administrators

Thanks to support from generous donors like you who gave to Multiply Your Donation, FH began to engage with Thnorl Primary School in 2017 and launched programs to clean school grounds, encourage bodily hygiene, and enroll students. The school did not have a library, so they worked with the local community to make one, providing books, a reading table, shelves, and a basket for toys and puzzles. FH also set up slides and swings on the school playground.

FH Staff with school director
Thnorl teachers and school director meeting with local FH staff.

“Most of the students couldn’t read before. Now they can read well and enjoy coming to the library and spending time with their friends. They can read for the small students,” Samoun said.

“They study harder [and have] become more respectful to elders and everyone around. They love and care for one another. Their health is also better.”

Supporters and partners make it possible for FH to provide many training courses to teachers on topics such as literacy, numeracy, and library management — especially when their donations are matched 22x through the Multiply Your Donation program. School directors also received mentoring and coaching sessions on relevant topics. Monthly meetings facilitated by FH allowed community members to connect with the school.

‘Everything Has Changed’

Previously, people in the area saw little value in education. Anger and domestic violence were common, and many families migrated to Thailand in hopes of a better life.

“The members of this village didn’t have even one or two families that sent their children to attend the university before, but now everything has changed through FH program intervention.”

Samoun says training on safe migration, child protection, how to stop domestic violence, understanding the value of children’s education, and other topics had made a clear and positive impact.

A Thnorl student showing off a cherished storybook.
A Thnorl student showing off a cherished storybook.

“There is no more violence or arguments in my community. They have a good relationship, sharing with each other, and taking more care of their children,” Samoun says.

“I can see how happy the community is to see all these changes. They have changed their mindset by sending their children to school every day. Most of the parents are helping their children to study more at home, and also create a learning space for them.”

Hopes for a Brighter Future

Samoun hopes FH can continue to foster a more cooperative and educated community, curb migration, and build a good economy. He envisions a time when the transformation is so complete that FH can say its work is done.

“I want to see all children grow healthy and be the agent of change in all aspects,” he said.

Students playing on the swings during a break
Students playing on the swings during a break at Thnorl Primary School.

“Those children will have a bright future and trade off to develop their community as a whole. The last one that I hope to see is that my community consists of their ownership and takes their own responsibility without any assistance from FH.”

The Transformation Continues

The transformation of Thnorl Primary School and the surrounding community is just one example of the exponential impact that can be made through Multiply Your Donation. When you give in this way, it is matched 22x on average through our government and agency partners. Together we can do more for more.



You are about to embark on a new FH Donor Experience

If you need assistance, please contact us at donorhelp@fh.org or 866-307-3259.

Subscribe to Email Newsletter at FH.org
Subscribe to Email Newsletter at FH.org

Get inspiration delivered to your inbox!

Get inspiring news, free e-books, fun activities and more.

Gift Policy:
You may send small, flat paper-based items that can fit into a standard #10 size envelope, have a value of less than $5 dollars and weigh less than 4 ounces. We ask that you send small, flat items of this size because shipping is expensive and even small gift items can cause issues clearing customs.
You can send postcards or photographs, however, we ask that you visit here for more details about culturally appropriate guidelines for photos and other images. Please write the child’s ID # on the back of each item that you enclose with your letter to ensure that it reaches him/her.
Best gifts to send your sponsored child:
  • Paper dolls
  • Postcards
  • Pictures of yourself or family
  • Sports cards, individual cards (baseball, soccer, football)
  • Stickers (flat, paper-based, only a few at a time)
  • Paper-based simple bookmarks, stationery, drawing, or writing paper (single sheets)
  • Coloring pages (single sheets, not books)
  • Please do NOT send:
  • Monetary gifts
  • Liquids, candy, or food
  • Batteries or magnets
Please note, all items should be compliant with airline transport and safety regulations. Gifts that don’t meet the gift policy will be donated to a local Christian non-profit organization in Phoenix, Arizona, that works with low-income families. We will not be able to return them.