BUSAN, South Korea — During the mid to late 1970’s, the Khmer Rouge killed an estimated 1.7 million people in Cambodia –roughly 21 percent of the country’s population. It was one of the worst genocides of the 20th century, yet it never gained the notoriety of the Holocaust and is little known by people living outside of Southeast Asia.
Along with first wiping out Cambodia’s educated class, the regime under Pol Pot destroyed Cambodia’s infrastructure and drove the education system into ruins. In fact, Tuol Seng High School in the capital Phnom Penh, was converted into one of the world’s most infamous torture centers, where brutal acts of inhumanity took place on the grounds of the usually serene campus where Cambodia’s children once learned.
Due to the massive demographic shift, a large percentage of the population is now under the age of 14, often without familial support and little access to a good education. Even thirty-years after the unthinkable events that took place, the country still struggles to get out from under the weight of mass genocide and help its people better themselves and provide the tools to help them attain a better future.
Doing our part to help
The Cambodia-based group Sprouting Scholars is an education fund that seeks to support underprivileged children and young adults by providing meaningful and useful education. Last year the group held a charity event and raised over 800,000 won for the cause and will once again seek to do even more with an event at Thirsty Moose in the PNU area of Busan.
With the majority of expats in Korea being English teachers, we’re not only exposed to, but living within the tremendous advantage our students here have: access to a first-class education. It’s easy to forget that just a short plane trip away, there are children who push and shove just to get a seat in a ghastly orphanage classroom full of children and teenagers â just for an hour with inexperienced volunteer teachers and no basic supplies, like pencils and paper.
These children become the forgotten children. The ones so easily ignored when we’re on vacation enjoying the sites of Cambodia. And it is these children, the ones with no one standing in their corner, who are the beneficiaries of Sprouting Scholars.
The idea of Sprouting Scholars was born out of the goal of maintaining minimal administrative expenses so that the majority of funds raised would be used directly to enroll children into formalized educational institutions. No salaries, no office rental fees â strictly the bare necessities to effectively run a non-profit organization to fund education for these children.
Come out and support a great cause for Cinco De Mayo.
The day starts with an afternoon BBQ that will extend into a night of Cinco de Mayo festivities. The cost is 10,000 won to enter with all profits going to the Sprouting Scholars.
With your entrance; you receive a free chicken steak (to BBQ on the rooftop) and a free drink to be redeemed later in the night, at The Basement, which along with Thirsty Moose have generously donated their time and effort to make this happen.
There will be a piÃ±ata and a special drawing to win a bottle of premium tequila.
The event will also feature traditional Mexican side dishes you can purchase to enjoy with your free chicken steak, all funds of which will also benefit the Sprouting Scholars fund.
Email Matthew Lesperance at email@example.com for tickets or you can pay at the door.
For more info on Sprouting Scholars, visit them on the web: www.sproutingscholars.org/
Photos courtesy of Sprouting Scholars
Mayra Barragan contributed to this article.