“Rudi Boa Library”
Location: Phnom Penh, Cambodia
Founders: The Downtown San Diego Rotaract Club
Partners: Attitude Centre for Education
We’re all familiar with the feeling of struggling to understand a certain word in a novel, or to comprehend the meaning of a sentence when reading a book; however, a feeling we all know even better is that extraordinary and transformative one which comes next with the understanding of that word or of that sentence – the warm and empowering excitement of learning.
The Downtown San Diego Rotaract Club raised money to build a library in Cambodia!
Jane Murphy, a member of the San Diego Downtown Rotaract Club, knows a thing or two about the opportunities that come along with literacy and access to books. Jane and the Club learned about Traveling Stories and immediately became involved, regularly volunteering and acting as community advocates.
Years earlier, while Jane was still in college, she helped create a library in Tanzania. This experience showed Jane first-hand the importance and need for access to books in impoverished communities. Jane and the Rotaract Club were drawn to MyBrary, Traveling Stories’ franchise opportunity, which equips groups to raise funds to build a library in their name in an international community.
In less than a year, the Rotaract Club raised over $13,000 to build a library in partnership with Attitude Centre for Education (ACE) in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. These efforts were lead by Jane and other Club members Iara Rocchi & Lyndsi Sherman. During the summer of 2015 Jane traveled to Cambodia to meet with the leaders at Attitude Education Center, reporting back to Traveling Stories HQ. Together, they selected Rudi Boa Center in Borey Peace II community as the specific site of the new library.
This location was chosen purposefully because it will provide opportunities to residents who were evicted from their homes six years ago at Beoung Kak Lake and forced to move into the surrounding outskirts. These families are busy and hardworking, with the parents often away from the home all day employed at garment factories; the children of these families often attend free daily English classes at the Rudi Boa Center while their parents are away.
In a partnership with ACE, we hope that this new library will act as a catalyst to empower Cambodian families to further their education through providing books, increasing literacy levels, and inspiring a love of reading. The library is currently under construction, with hopes of being fully operational by the end of February 2016r. With this fast approaching opening date, the children of Borey Peace II could not be more excited.
These children love attending their daily classes at Rudi Boa and delight in learning this new, lively language. Young girls like Kim Ea will finally have the chance to do research on the subjects that interest her, and boys like Pheaktra will be able to fulfill his goal of reading every genre of book possible; these children are overjoyed at the idea of a library at school, and relish the idea of having access to new books everyday – it’s the realization of an idea that perhaps seemed impossible to them before.
In building this new library, we are quite literally making these students’ dreams a reality, as young Piseth notes that his dream is to “read more books.” This library will encourage a generation of young teachers, like PhyRom and Livouch, who are itching to continue learning, acquire more knowledge, and share that knowledge with their friends and family in the community. Working together, these children will change their communities and perhaps much more through gaining this access to resources, which would have previously been unreachable.
In providing books to this community of young and passionate learners, the establishment of the Cambodia Library will help to nourish this generation of children who could one day change the world.
Between 1975 and 1979 the Khmer Rouge entered Cambodia and killed a quarter of the country’s population. During the genocide, Cambodia lost its leaders, educators, and greatest thinkers. Cambodia regained its independence from the Khmer Rouge in 1979 and now has a much more stable government. The effects of the Khmer Rouge are still very apparent in Cambodian society today. Based on UNESCO data, the adult literacy rate in Cambodia is 78%, with a high correlation between illiteracy and poverty. Cambodia has launched a 2015 literacy campaign, with the goal of increasing literacy rates to 84%.