TAKEO, Cambodia, April 9 (Xinhua) — Chhum Seavling, aged 12, is quite used to walking a few kilometers to school each day. Her family can not afford a bicycle for her, so when Hello Inc. donated some of the company’s previously shared bikes to rural kids in Cambodia, it was a life changing event.
Chok Primary School in Bati disrrict, roughly 50 km south of capital Phnom Penh, is one of the 67 rural schools that have been given bikes.
“My parents are poor farmers. They can’t buy a bicycle for me, so it takes me about half an hour to walk to school,” Chhum told Xinhua. She now has no reason to drop out of school. “It takes me only five to 10 minutes to cycle to school now. I’m very happy and I don’t want to quit anymore.”
Another sixth grader, Leang Sreynet, said the bikes had brought new hope and she promised to study hard to fulfill her dream of becoming a teacher. Vong Sovanminea washes his bike every day. “It is really useful. Besides riding to school, my parents ride it to market,” he said.
Khuon Chhorn, principal of the school, said it is normal to see students walking long distances to school. Some students walk seven km there and seven km back. “The bikes make it easier for them to come to school and relieve their family’s worries,” he told Xinhua.
On behalf of his students, the principal thanked the donation. “I believe the bikes will change their lives,” he said.
Comparable bikes in Cambodia cost about 250,000 riel (60 U.S. dollars). Poor families don’t earn that much in two months and Chhum made sure that all 35 bikes the school received went to the students in greatest need.
The bikes were given out during the Chinese New Year and Hello has since received countless letters of gratitude, accompanied by videos and photographs of the bikes being used. Zhou Jinxiu, vice president of Hello, said with the help from China Foundation for Poverty Alleviation and COSCO Charity Foundation, the Hello Inc. had donated 1,000 bikes to students in rural Cambodia.
“Although (the bikes) come from cities all over China and are still in good condition. We refurbished and cleaned them before shipping,” she told Xinhua. The bikes went to Takeo, Kampong Cham, Kampong Chhnang, and Battambang provinces.
“Most of the students are from low-income families, and we hope they will be useful, in both studies and daily lives,” she said. “We’re so happy for the beneficiaries, who we hope become ambassadors of China-Cambodia friendship when they finally leave school.”