This is the story of a principal I (Andrew) have been working with in the Water for Kids Project: 

Sann Raen is the principal of a primary school in rural Cambodia. When he was born his mother died while giving birth. After the pain of her death, his father and siblings sorrowfully called an auto rickshaw (tuk-tuk) to take them back home. While they were on their way home down a bumpy road the tuk-tuk tipped over and everyone flew out leaving everyone but him with injuries. Though he was just a baby he was not injured in the accident. His father, upset and angry, wondered who caused these terrible things to happen. Then his father recklessly blamed the baby and left him abandoned at a local government office.

Later that day a husband and wife saw him at the office and had compassion on him. They brought him home and took care of him. They fed him, raised him and sent him to school. When he was in second grade his adopted father died from an illness. His adopted mother then became very poor and she had to leave their home village to find work. Every two or three months his mother would send him some money, but only about $25. She could not earn much money as a woman working in the field.

His neighbors around his house occasionally gave him food and old clothes. He sewed patches on the old clothes to cover the holes. He didn’t have any friends and most people looked down on him. During rice harvest season he was absent from school because he did not have enough money to feed himself. Eventually he had to stop studying in order to work full time.

In 1997 he moved to Yeang Donkum village, near the Cambodia-Thailand border. He applied to be a teacher there and they accepted him as a part time teacher. In 2008 the Ministry of Education promoted him to be the principal of the school.

He is now married and has four children, three girls and one boy. He is partially disabled in his right arm because of a previous motorcycle accident, but he still continues to work hard.

When Samaritan’s Purse began working with his school he was very excited and helped to coordinate with the community for raising money to contribute to the construction of a toilet, hand washing station, and a pond. Even though he is disabled, he still helps maintain the school and the facilities. An example of his dedication to the school children came when the roof of the hand washing station was in immediate need of repairs. He assumed the responsibility, managing to drive to the market 20km away-with his one good arm-to gather the necessary supplies.

His family doesn’t have much money to live on as his salary is only $75 per month, but recently an SP staff invited him to attend a training class on raising chickens to help support his family.

“Before SP came to my village I heard about the gospel on the radio and would pray to Jesus to please send someone to help our school and I will work with all of my ability to build our school,” he said.

Sann Raen asks for prayer for his wife because she has a heart problem. Also pray that he will believe the gospel as he learns more about Jesus Christ through our work. 

The Water for Kids project has been working at the Yeang Donkum primary school for two years, providing water and sanitation technologies along with hygiene education. The project currently works in 47 schools in Banteay Meanchey Province, Cambodia helping children stay in school and stay healthy.