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Team Girls Education

When my family reached the Thai border after walking night and day during the dry season, the Vietnamese force was on the offensive against the Khmer Rouge in 1979. At the border, a few military camion trucks arrived to take us refugees deeper into Thailand. Only a select few on the handwritten list were allowed to board.

The sun was about to set, and there was sense of panic and chaos. Families scrambled to board. Unlucky parents re-checked the guarded list in devastation, begging and pleading for the officials to let them board. People were forcibly removed or prevented from boarding. As the trucks started to slowly pull out, people desperately ran after them on the rugged dusty terrain, pleading to be allowed on.

Numbness, shock, detachment, hunger and weariness were visible on everyone's faces. People braced and anchored themselves tightly to the railing and each other as the truck bounced on the dusty roadless terrain away from the border. Squished between my siblings and other refugees, I looked under the rail and saw something that left a deep imprint on my heart. A tattered dark-skin skeletal woman holding the hand of a child, not even her waist tall, was keeping pace with the truck.  The image of her pleading eyes and the sound of her weak voice muffled by the roaring engine, begging for us to help her and her child onto the truck, is hauntingly unforgettable.  

When the truck picked up speed, the distance between her outstretched arm and the truck grew further and further apart. Her hand retracted, going to her sarong as it was unraveling and slipping off her waist. As I watched her losing pace in the dust and putrid fume of the diesel-powered truck, a wave of sadness washed over me. Our truck eventually pulled away, and her frail body slowly disappeared into the darkness, but her eyes have stayed with me to this day.

How lucky I am. How unfortunate she and her child were. Her eyes… they drive and direct my heart. In the current barrage of chatter and noise overwhelming our senses, I encourage you to tune into your heart. Her eyes tune mine and reminds me of who I am and where I came from.

If you have had the opportunity to visit Cambodia, you may have sensed the palpable sweetness appealing to your being. Yet under this charming tenderness still exists the horror of the Khmer Rouge legacy. Seeing the vibrancy of the students on campus gives me hope that CFC’s program is on the right track.

Last summer our family had the opportunity to return to Siem Reap and witness the progress of loving efforts made by ground staff and people from all parts of the globe and from all walks of life. Every time I set foot on any of the CFC's schools, I feel a sense of calm as my smile was greeted by students, teachers and staff; a sense of gratefulness simply to be on the campus. I am in awe of the vibrancy of the ever improvements of the schools.

I had an opportunity to listen to a group of Girls Matter participants with Program Manager, Ratha Chum. These two vignettes below summarize the fluid beauty of the gender equity program at CFC.

With the Girls Matter! program in its 3rd year, I am amazed by how fully the program is embraced by the students, their families and their villages. I'm so thankful that these students now have the resources they need because of contributors like you who have, what I like to call, 'eyes in your hearts.'

Thank you for your continuous support to Girls Matter!

Sokunthea Oum-Fite


Sok Chomrong, Gender Representative Student

Sur Sdey! I am Sok Chomrong, 21 years old living in Aranh Village. I’m studying in grade 11 A.  I have one sister and three brothers. All my brothers and sister are studying in Aranh schools. When I first I heard the announcement to study gender equity course, I was not interested, but I was curious.  With encouragement from my friend, I decided to register. I enjoyed the course.  Since then I made more friends and understood the lessons.

As the older sister, I always shared what I have learned from gender equity class to my family. As the result from studying gender equity, I am brave, responsible, and problem solving. I can be a good sister and a leader in youth council. Before I was not brave enough to lead someone. By studying gender equity course, I can self advocate.  I’m interested in self advocation, leadership and equal rights for women and girls to study higher education and travel away from home as men or boys do.  Because of this belief, I got a chance to join running competition in Kampong Chnang and Kampot Provinces. I was away from my family for 2 weeks. It made me more confident and understand more about women rights. Studying gender equity is​​ very beneficial.

I hope I can study gender equity course again and hope our facilitator tries to find more lessons to teach us. I thank you for your facilitating, your trust and motivations to me and my parents.


Mean Lyheng, Gender Representatives

Studying gender equity, I have learned clearly about leadership.  It helps me to be responsible.  For example, the video of ants’ leadership, I learned about problems and challenges.  Even though, there are a lot of issues, it always solidifies to fight for achievement. It’s also related with the Khmer proverb:

Water in​​ the gallon             Eye like a crow

Shout like lion          Speech like Preahisaur

Grown like Indradevi   ​​​​ Dream about heaven

Wisdom like Rabbit              Happy like Ants

-  Water in​​  the gallon is equity justice without bias.
-  Eye like a crow is the long vision which shown about problems and solutions in the future.
-  Shout like lion is the effective speech to people with influences.
-  Speech like Preahisaur means what we have to talk with efficiency and must take action.
-  Grown like Indradevi means the effective speech with respect and trust from other people.
-  Dream about heaven means we need to dream big.
-  Wisdom like Rabbit means intelligent wisdom for all the facing problems in the smart way.
-  Happy like Ants means working as a team and solidarity without afraid of tired, but we enjoy work with love and heart.  

At the end, as I am a male student, I encourage men to understand and empathize with women on their rights and freedom as men do.

(I would like to thank my daughter Apsara for helping with this technical thingy).

  • Goal $45,000.00
  • Raised $34,433.00
Top Donations
  • E.J. & Sara Wunsch - $10,000.00
  • E.J. & Sara Wunsch - $5,000.00
  • Kenta Kojima and Aiko Morton - $5,000.00
  • Pam and David Arya - $1,500.00
  • Fite Family - $1,000.00
Donor Date Amount Message
Alla Kerker 5/18/2018 $60.00
Mandi Leonard 5/7/2018 $200.00 Thank you Thea!! You are a talented teacher and this is a wonderful cause. :)
Leslie Low 3/15/2018 $20.00 Girls Education via Thea Fite
The Chang Family 1999 Trust 3/15/2018 $100.00 Girls Education via Thea
Jennifer Lee Sims 3/15/2018 $100.00 Thank you Thea Fite!
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