It was no ordinary November school day for the students of Tbong Khmum Province when two distinguished dignitaries. Dr. THENG Chan-Sangvar, Under Secretary of State and Cabinet Director, along with His Excellency Dr. MENG Bunnarith, Deputy Director, representing the Ministry of Land Management, Urban Planning and Construction, traveled from the capital city to participate and oversee two consecutive, extraordinary days of activity. The occasion marked the blessing of 500 bicycles presented to students attending two separate schools in the Province; Tuol Kdey Secondary School, and Chorm Commune (near the Vietnam border) Memot District, This welcome donation was provided by LDS Charities, an arm of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (the Mormon Church).
"These bikes will be a very important tool of transportation for our kids," said guest speaker, Minister Dr. THENG Chan-Sangvar, who conveyed sincere appreciation on behalf of the local authority, the school director and parents. "Your donation is crucial for the success of their study."
Also, traveling to participate in the ceremony, were eight senior Mormon missionary couples who are currently serving the people of Cambodia.
Excitement filled the air, as upon their arrival, students found shiny bicycles lined up in straight rows, parked under the shade of the trees surrounding their school yard. An outside auditorium was created in the middle of the school yard, by rows and rows of red chairs set for students, teachers and parents. Colorful signs marked the VIP designated seating for teachers, school administrators and honored guests, who had traveled from Phnom Penh to participate in the special program.
As each student arrived and took their seat, they looked picture perfect; sitting tall in their chairs, all dressed in white shirts and blouses and dark skirts and pants. The atmosphere was electric as their excitement turned to anticipation. Smiles, laughter, and wide-eyed enthusiasm spread across each face as they sensed something both wonderful and unusual was about to take place. The occasion and purpose of the program is to bless students while reducing the hardship for many who have long distances to travel in order to attend school each day.
"I am happy to accept this wonderful gift in behalf of all of us here today." said one young student, "I wish to tell you that we will grow up strong like bamboo shoots."
These are the faces of Cambodia's future and education will insure their success and a stronger nation.