At The PEPY Ride School in Chanleas Dai village, only 14 students out of 97 have dropped out this year. Even with rising numbers of illegal migration, the high cost of rice, and increasing pressure on livelihoods, we’re doing substantially better than the norm. Although I can’t say the exact reasons why the numbers are lower where we are, I’m pretty sure that its mostly a result of our Bike to School, English, Computer, and Environmental Programs. My eyes and ears tell me that our impacts are much greater than numbers, and to take this with a grain of salt. Still, doesn’t hurt to hear some encouraging quantitative stats.
That said, numbers certainly aren’t everything, and there are plenty of small moments that weave their way into the day and make me proud of the baby steps we keep accomplishing. One of my golden moments was today at Prasat Knaa, a school that impressed me with its cleanliness, the initiative of the teachers and principal, the new ideas, transparency and overall attitude of the children. As we were chatting, the principal went over his school plan for the year, noting where he would be using government funding, where he would hope to use PEPY eco-club money etc.
When he stopped at the end, he looked me in the eye and told me that all he wanted was for his students to have the resources that we had helped create at Chanleas Dai. All he wanted was the atmosphere that he saw at The PEPY Ride School, the sense of opportunity.
We regularly have requests for an expansion of PEPY programs in different schools, and we often get compliments on our work from those in the community. But this struck me in a more powerful way….maybe because it was coming from someone who had my respect, maybe because of the honesty and appreciation in his voice, maybe it was just the particular day or moment. Regardless, his genuine belief that we had created something special, and something that he wanted to spread to his own school gave my my warm fuzzy for the day. To all of you who have supported us in the past, I just wanted to share it.