From fear to flourishing – Narith’s story

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“I was always too scared to talk to kids or teachers at school…”

Narith* has been facing extraordinary challenges since the day he was born.

Only hours after delivering him, Narith’s mother died of complications from his birth. 

Shortly after that, his father remarried and left him to be cared for by his aunt and uncle.

Today Narith is seven years old, and he still lives with his aunt and uncle, under difficult living conditions, in a small wooden home in rural Cambodia.

This time last year Narith started going to school for the first time and, as his aunt explains, he was once again immediately faced with challenges:    

“His school is very far from our house, and Narith cannot ride a bike yet, so I must ride him to school each day. And if, for some reason, I can’t one day then he doesn’t go.”

And even when he made it to school, the struggles continued once he got there.

“I was always too scared to talk to kids or teachers at school,” Narith explains, “And I didn’t dare raise my hand when I didn’t understand the lesson.”

It also didn’t help that Narith was often forced to miss school because he was unwell. He didn’t fully appreciate the importance of good personal hygiene (like brushing your teeth, washing hands and bathing) and even though his aunt and uncle did know some good hygiene practices themselves, they were often so busy with trying to provide for the family (and with other urgent concerns) that they weren’t encouraging or enforcing them in Narith.

All of this meant that, although he was clearly a bright kid according to many reports, Narith’s school attendance and results after term one were well below the average. “I was really unhappy and discouraged by my results,” Narith remembers.

Fortunately, at around that time Narith was selected to join Sunshine Cambodia’s School Development Program.      

Sunshine is our ministry partner in Cambodia, which works to show and share Jesus’ love and transform the lives of vulnerable children in Cambodia through education, safety and support.

Sunshine provided Narith and his family with food packages (including rice, noodles, fish sauce and soy sauce), hygiene materials (such as nail clippers, masks, soaps, and poster of good hygiene habits) and school study materials.

The Sunshine team also supported Narith and his aunt through regular home visits, where they would share the importance of getting an education and encourage Narith to attend school regularly and to study hard both at school and home.

They also encouraged and helped Narith’s aunt to support him in his study, health, hygiene and to protect him from any harm both at school and home.

After less than a year the transformation has been incredible.

Narith has worked hard on his schoolwork and personal hygiene (he is now almost never missing class) and his confidence to talk to others, play with friends and speak up in class has grown in leaps and bounds.

So much so that in his recent end of school year results topped the class (of 32 kids) for the whole year! 

“I am so happy with my results,” exclaims Narith, “but I’m even more happy that I now have the confidence and courage to talk to others and so now I can have better relationships with my friends and teachers.”

Click here if you want to find out more, or support Sunshine’s work to share Jesus’ love and transform the lives of vulnerable children in Cambodia through education, safety and support.

*Names have been changed to protect those we serve.

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