ABCs and Rice
The mission of ABC and Rice is to activate global awareness and helpful resources on the plight of those caught in a cycle of poverty; and to initiate, operate effective community projects, based on the concept of educating children in their native culture and English literacy, while concurrently nurturing the physical and psychological well-being of the children and their families.
ABCs and Rice offers free food programs and free education in an English and Khmer school for the underprivileged children of Poom Sala and KroligneVillages, 3km from the town centre of Siem Reap, Cambodia.
Established in January 2010, ABCs and Rice is funded through donations and funding sources. There are currently 183 students at the school aged from 4 to 18. The curriculum includes Khmer reading, writing, cultural and morals programs, English studies, music, art/craft and sport and are focused on retaining attention spans and providing effective, productive learning
ABCs and Rice is currently developing Full Belly Farm, which will house chicken and fish farms and also grow fruit, vegetables, and herbs. This food will provide highly nutritional provisions for the Breakfast Club and the monthly food drops to families. Any additional food will be bartered or sold with proceeds going back into the organisation.
In addition to the Education Program and sustainable Food Program, ABC’s and Rice also offers personal support and development to the children and their families including medical and dental care.
There are three main areas of business at ABCs and Rice:
- Education (consists of School, the Back to School Program, Community Health and Wellbeing, Extra-Curricular, Vocational Studies within ABCs, Career Development beyond ABCs, Staff Training and Development)
- Food (Full Belly Farm, Breakfast Club, Reverse Tuition, Staff and Community Training and Development)
- Special projects (Community Support and Development)
Project Description – education program
Since English is increasingly viewed as the language of international communication, literacy becomes a most valuable tool. This applies globally and Cambodia is no exception. With average monthly salaries of $30 to $60USD per family, having English language skills - even the most basic - allows that monthly earning potential to double. ABCs and Rice has always viewed education as a key element in empowering the impoverished to break the cycle of poverty.
Our focus on English is in line with the needs and demands of employers and post-secondary education providers in the area. We aim to provide the highest quality of education in a safe and fun environment where children can grow physically, emotionally, and academically. Fun, interesting, and useful skills are all taught in English, building up to a well- rounded, nurturing education.
Our goal here is to empower the locals to help themselves. The staff at ABCs and Rice are another layer to the project as our teachers are all university students training with us to become professional teachers. Our support workers are all community members who were otherwise deemed un-employable. We continuously provide and seek out training for our staff, and most are enrolled in additional evening classes sponsored through ABCs and Rice.
We invite skilled volunteers from around the globe to come, offer ideas, and assist in training and support of the local staff. As the staff grow in their skill and confidence levels we aim to promote them into management roles. This handover will allow the current directors and managers (all volunteers) to move on to the next identified area in need, where the process will start again.
There are often severe problems at the homes of our children - the child or a family member is sick, a victim of violence, or has been rendered homeless. We offer referral to other relevant organisations, a sponsored tuk-tuk ride to an area professional, a one-time goods donation, or the absorption of medical costs. We encourage the family to take this responsibility, however, in many instances, it is simply unaffordable. Being supportive of our community and of student’s families further enables the child’s access to school.
Extra Curricular activities are an integral part of our education program. The development of the skills of working in groups, the cultivation of hobbies and interests, the exposure to arts and the recognition of individual strengths both enrich and extend work done in the classroom. These activities aim to motivate and support the students to reach their full potential.
VOCATIONAL STUDIES WITHIN ABCs
The newest program at ABCs and Rice offers various life skills and exposure to potential career options. Senior level students will now spend five hours per week being exposed to a variety of programs. Some of these programs include trades work, paper making, textiles, leadership training, event management and computers.
CAREER DEVELOPMENT BEYOND ABCs
It is a core belief that once they are a student of ABCs and Rice, a child will be offered guidance and support until it is no longer needed. Examples include, but are not limited to: university scholarship programs; vocational and trade school scholarships; and employment services. We are currently building up networks and relationships with key organisations in these areas as well as developing sponsorship programs based on forecasted, upcoming needs. At the moment we have no students eligible for this program, but will do in approximately 12 months.
Project Description – back to school program
ABCs and Rice encourages families to invest in their child’s future by sending them to area government schools. However for many of our families the daily teacher fees, uniform costs and additional fees are simply unaffordable, even with the alleviated burdens of food and child care that ABCs and Rice provides.
This is when the “Back to School Program” is offered. To enter this program, families enter into a memorandum of understanding with ABCs and Rice. A simple contract, whereby ABCs and Rice agrees to pay all public school fees, provide all uniforms, shoes, books etc., and transportation to government school, as well as an increased food ration. In return, the family agrees to ensure the child will maintain exemplary attendance at ABCs as well as government school, the child will study and keep grades at their level of capability in both institutes, and the child will not be made to work outside of the family home.
We are into our second year of this program and the feedback and results have been outstanding! Combined with the English curriculum, this program has the children of ABCs and Rice attending school and safe from danger for six hours a day. With a government issued diploma, a high Standard English education, basic life skills, and the love and support provided continuously at ABCs, these children will have all the tools necessary to face the world and accomplish anything to which they set their minds.
Project Description – food program
Breakfast Club is not a new concept, but is instrumental in our ability to offer a good education. All children are offered a hot and nutritious meal each day. Many of our children have very limited access to food at home and nutritional values are low in priority in a family who can barely conquer the pangs of hunger. Starchy water with small amounts of rice is most often the meal to be shared with the family. Health issues and an inability to focus in class are the obvious result. Allowing these children at least one quality meal a day allows them the energy and focus needed to learn and play. It also relieves more of the financial burden on their struggling families.
FOOD DROPS/REVERSE TUITION
Families unable to support their child’s education are often unable to support their child. The reverse tuition allows for a child not to work. Their education becomes their job. Their food ration is their contribution to the household. The amount of rice and other supplies varies with availability and finances but there is always a ration to take home, and the pride we witness each month as the children collect their families goods is heartwarming and heartbreaking all at once. This is the program that allows the children access to all other programs.
Project Description – full belly farm
Full Belly Farm will contain a fish farm, chicken coop housing 700 chickens, banana trees and large vegetable patch. It will employ local people and teach them the skills to completely run the farm, as well as equip them with a sustainable social enterprise scheme. The plan is based not only on the nutritional requirements of the children of ABCs and Rice but on the knowledge that Cambodia’s current agricultural methods reduce it to the lowest food producer per capita within ASEAN (Association of SE Asian Nations).
The main goals for the farm are to:
- Alleviate food costs in Breakfast Club and Food Drops/Reverse Tuition Programs
- Increase nutritional value in current food programs
- Add sustainability to the Food and Education programs
- Act as an experimental site, with the goal of improving local agricultural methods
- Become a training facility for rural farmers
Perhaps most importantly , this project aims to become a model of sustainability and a pilot project which can be replicated and implemented in other locations further into regional Cambodia, across the underdeveloped regions of South East Asia and throughout the developing world to help those who are hungry and uneducated, well into the future.