As part of my work in Cambodia I visited a number of remote rural villages to observe their new schools in action and to learn about the situation facing these small tribes in their daily lives. For many of these villages their traditional way of life is changing rapidly with the jungle and forest being cut back, and improved roads making their villages more accessible than they were previously to the nearby towns.
During a number of these visits I met with the village leadership to hear their perspective on the new schools as well as the changes that have occurred as a result of having a school in their village. Most places have a Village Chief, a prominent individual in the community who acts as a figurehead and a leader for the area.
At the end of one meeting one evening, as the leaders relaxed with homemade rice wine I asked one Village Chief about his advice for young people,
‘Learning is so important. You can learn everywhere.’
‘In the afternoon when our children go to look after their water buffalo we tell them to take their books with them everywhere. Always keep trying. They need to go past being a farmer.’