Eagle Scout Project Helps Cambodia Kids Get to School
39 bicycles for students supported by Don Bosco Children’s Fund
This story, published by ANS on Feb. 23, 2016, was edited by your humble blogger.
(ANS – Phnom Penh) – Joseph Sinnott, a student at Salesian High School in New Rochelle, completed an Eagle Scout project of collecting and repairing bicycles for Salesian students in Cambodia. At the end of 2015, 39 bicycles were distributed to students supported by the Don Bosco Children’s Fund, a Salesian-run organization that assists poor youths between the ages of six and fifteen who are unable to go to school or have had to drop out due to poverty.
Students from four Salesian schools in the Cambodian provinces of Kep, Kampot, and Takeo were selected to receive the bicycles after Salesian volunteers had visited the schools to determine which children were most in need of transportation. Many children live in remote areas of the country and must travel great distances to gain an education. The donated bicycles will help students reach their schools faster and more efficiently.
“In a country where fewer than half the children finish primary school, more than 50,000 children have received the encouragement and support needed to complete an elementary education through the Don Bosco Children’s Fund since its inception in 1992,” says Fr. Mark Hyde, executive director of Salesian Missions in New Rochelle, which received Joseph’s bicycles and shipped them to Cambodia. “This donation is a great example of a Salesian student from the United States who has benefitted from an education, paying it forward by helping students on the other side of the world access education.”
The donation also included spare bicycle parts and tire pumps as well as eight bags of gently used blankets for the students. Through the programs of the Don Bosco Children’s Fund, youths not only receive support to continue their education, but they also receive a monthly assistance package. Social workers ensure that youths make progress and remain in school and those with special aptitude are further supported and encouraged to pursue college courses.
Close to 25% of Cambodians over the age of 15 are illiterate. To provide young people with greater opportunity, Salesians operate 45 schools in poor, rural villages through a partnership between Salesian Missions and the Cambodian Ministry of Education. Salesians also operate seven vocational training centers that impart much needed job skills. Since at least 2009, Salesian Lay Missioners from the U.S. have served in schools of the Salesian Sisters in Phnom Penh.