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Hope for Children at the Landfill: Riley

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This week, we are working to provide hope and education to 78 impoverished children living at a rural landfill in Cambodia.

Man going through trash at a Cambodian landfill

Twelve-year-old Riley is one of the many precious children whom we found living at a landfill site near our programs in western Cambodia. Years ago, Riley’s parents had left her in the care of her grandmother while they sought work across the border in Thailand. Sadly, the marriage ultimately ended in divorce, and neither parent has kept up a relationship with their daughter. Riley is lucky to have a truly devoted and loving grandmother, but life has still been terribly hard for both of them.

Girl in hat and plaid shirt squats at a landfill

Riley and her grandmother barely made a living by walking the roads to gather recyclables to sell. Occasionally, they were able to rent a bit of land in order to set up a small home, but they often had to move on when the landlord needed their space. At times, they even had to sleep by the side of the road. Riley had no opportunity for school as she and her grandma did their best to simply survive.

Even under these challenging circumstances, Riley’s grandmother was determined to find a way to send her granddaughter to school. She did not want Riley to be illiterate like she was.

One day, Riley’s grandmother learned about a community of people living at a local landfill. A kind neighbor invited them to stay with her and told our LWB staff that Riley could use our help. We registered Riley for the Catch Up class at our Believe In Me Rangsei School. She started in Grade 1 and soon advanced to Grade 2. This girl proved to be a determined little learner!

Girl in a blue Cambodian school uniform writing

Education is the key to helping these children earn a living wage as adults and escape the extreme poverty prevalent in this part of rural Cambodia. Our Believe in Me education program provides free education, transportation, hot meals, books, and uniforms to children like Riley who had previously spent their days scavenging through garbage for food and recyclables in the unsafe and toxic environment of the landfill. Thanks to this life-changing program, these kids now have a chance for a healthier and brighter future.

One of the best parts of Riley’s story is that she and her grandmother no longer have to pick up trash for a living. They now have enough food to eat, thanks to the supplemental nutrition Riley can bring home, and Riley has made many friends at school. Her grandmother is now working for a small income, and Riley helps out after school and on weekends.

Girl in red shirt holding a yellow basket of produce

The landfill is still not an ideal environment for living, but life for these two is now much easier than when they were always on the move. With education and improved nutrition, Riley now has the chance for a productive and self-sufficient future.

Girl in blue Cambodian school uniform eating rice

Will you please consider an ongoing monthly education sponsorship of $25 to help Riley continue to be part of our Believe in Me program?

Our BIG goal this week is to raise $62,000 to continue to provide this vital and holistic program for children at the landfill. Join us in our efforts to change the lives of 78 vulnerable kids like Riley.

Girl in a blue school uniform writes on a board

Together, we can change the narrative of their lives and provide real HOPE.

Give to Bring Hope to Children at the Landfill
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