Friday, September 27, 2013

University --- Here We Come!

In two weeks time university classes start up again after the Pchum Ben holidays and we are so excited that  some of our young women  are now preparing to attend their first year in university. This has been a long journey for each one of them as they have overcome much to get to this point. Having passed their grade 12 exams recently,  they are heading to the university of their choice. Over the past few weeks our social workers have been busy meeting with each of them and discussing their career opportunities and what they want to do as part of their Individual Achievement Plan (IAP). Can you imagine this? Young women who are discovering the joys of dreaming about their future and what they want to do. This is not an easy journey but part of helping them to transition well, is helping each of them to discover first of all that they have choice to make decisions about their life and secondly, our ongoing desire is to help them choose wisely and make responsible decisions in all facets of their lives so that they can truly live out their dreams and achieve their goals.

For us at Ratanak, we feel such a privilege and are indeed proud of their achievements thus far. Its one of the reasons we have called our community home the Ratanak Achievement Program Community Home. These young women have achieved much to get to this point in their lives. They have had to endure much pain, rejection and abandonment, go through years of counseling, work through ongoing issues related to self esteem, value and self worth and here they are now, living examples that  ''we are more than conquerors in Christ.''  In all of this, we are part of a team of organizations investing in their lives and are grateful for our partners organizations who first walked with these young women and have now passed the baton to us to continue facilitating their journey of transition into the real world.

As part of their preparation for university, we give each young women an initial ''education pack'' ie: a small sum of money to buy their school supplies and school uniforms. Any subsequent purchases, during the university year, they have to save up their weekly allowance and budget wisely in order to pay for their ongoing supplies. Some of them are also hoping to work part time so that they can earn extra income. We encourage this since this is how many young people here supplement their university costs.   This is all part of preparing them for independence and a move away from dependence on the NGO to provide for every single one of their needs. This is not easy, but it is a necessary step if these young women are really going to develop the necessary resilience and tools to live in the real world.  However,  like typical teenagers or young people, the money is never enough but as a team we  have evaluated what is a reasonable cost for a university student.  So today, some of our young women piled into the Ratanak truck  excited to go shopping for their school supplies and uniforms. A few hours later, they arrived back to display some of their purchases.

University supplies, school uniforms
University students are all required to wear uniforms and our young women got a good deal buying their long skirts and blue shirts at the local market among their notebooks, pens, shoes and backpacks. One young women mentioned that she needed 6 notepads but only bought 3 because she ran out of money.  I showed one of our staff the notebooks the young women purchased and she mentioned, ''well she could have chosen a cheaper notebook and bought all 6 but she choose the most expensive ones.'' So the lessons on budgeting and saving begin!

So what will these 5 young women be studying? Well this is the fun part---one young women SL is planning to study Information technology. She is already gifted in this area and even teaches our home advisors when they have questions on different computer programs and has taught them how to set up their Facebook pages! Another of our young women C, is planning to study social work. She had a chance to chat with both our counselors and social workers asking them what's the difference between those two professions and through those conversations discovered that she doesn't want to be stuck in an office all day long listening to peoples problems but rather would be out on the field helping others. Our third young woman SN is hoping to become a social worker as well.. We think she will do well in this area as she has a very gentle presence and warmth that makes people especially little kids feel safe. Our fourth young woman TY wants to be an author/journalist. The other day I saw her trying to translate a very difficult English passage into Khmer. She perseveres and is diligent in making the effort to study despite the challenges before her. Then there is P, who received a scholarship for 50% of her tuition fees. She wants to pursue International Relations as one day she hopes she can become an ambassador!  Such is the dreams and hopes of these 5 young women who are entering university. Pray for each of them that this initial enthusiasm and excitement will continue as their studies begin and that they will persevere as they enter a new chapter in their life. After all, it is not how well we start, but how well we finish but God does promise that ''He who began a good work in them will complete it.''  Stay tune!

1 comment:

  1. So thrilling to be part of this great adventure through prayer. Months ago we prayed for these young women to succeed in their Grade 12 exams without the need for external influences. How wonderful to watch them take this momentous step. As a mom with a daughter in university, their journey (and the budgeting lessons to learn!) is very close to my heart. I'll be keeping these five especially close in prayer.