My name is Ly Ly.

I’m 11 and in 3rd grade.

I go to the Catch Up School.

I like to play soccer and I want to be a doctor.

In this community domestic violence is prevalent.

Ly Ly loves to go to school. "I like (the Catch Up School) better than the government school," Ly Ly says in a soft voice and downward gaze, "because they don't hit me, they don't curse at me and they don't take my money,"

The 10-year-old says her teachers are kind and she has many friends to play with at the Asian Hope Catch Up School in Prek Pneu.

She is one of the 500 children who attend an Asian Hope Catch Up School. The program was created out of a need to help children who are behind in school and those who do not attend school at all. Many quit school to work and support their families. Some cannot afford to pay the informal fees demanded by many of their government school teachers who are not paid a living wage. The free Catch Up School program gives children a chance to reach their grade level so that they can complete their education.

For generations, ethnic Vietnamese, like Ly Ly and her family, have endured discrimination and exploitation in Cambodia. This minority group represents roughly five percent of the country's 15 million people1. Without an education, these children have little hope of ever escaping the grip of poverty.

For Ly Ly, the Catch Up School is the only place where she can receive an education in a safe and nurturing environment.

Ly Ly's mother Savy says she wants her youngest daughter to have a better life. The mother of 5 supports her family with a job at a local garment factory and the earnings her husband Leng makes from repairing boats in their floating village. Since her daughter began attending the school a year ago, her reading has improved. Savy says her daughter will read children's stories to her while she is cooking or cleaning their home.

"Ly Ly will have the real ability to work," says 42-year-old Savy from the deck of her floating home. "Whatever she wants to do, whatever she dreams, Asian Hope is that force."

Chanrith Moung, co-manager of the Asian Hope Catch Up Schools, explains how the program provides more than just classroom instruction; it's also a vital community resource where the children and their families learn about the love of Jesus. Families learn about child rights and safety, parenting skills, conflict resolution, and healthy hygiene.

Savy says she is thankful for the support her family has received from Asian Hope's Catch Up School and the care and attention the teachers give to Ly Ly.

"They taught me to love and care for my kids, to care about school, and not to abuse them," she said. "I think this is good for me and the other parents because they encourage us to care for our kids, their education and ultimately their future." We hope you can help us reach more children like Ly Ly.

Prek Pneu Catch Up School

  • Opened in 2011
  • 163 students enrolled
  • 86 boys and 77 girls
  • Student-teacher ratio of 20:1 compared to the 46:1 nationwide average.
  • Many families cannot afford to pay for school expenses such as books, supplies, uniforms, transportation, and informal fees that many teachers demand from their students and children often quit school to work and support their families.
  • A large portion of the students who attend the school are ethnic Vietnamese. In some cases, Vietnamese children can face harsh discrimination by teachers, which affects their ability to learn and leads some parents to remove their children from school rather than have them face the abuse.
  • On average, most of the students in the program are two to three grade levels behind.


  • Role: Co-manager of the Asian Hope Catch Up Schools
  • How long have you been with Asian Hope?   Since 2011
  • What do you love about your job?  "I believe in education," Chanrith says. "And I believe that everyone deserves a bright future."
  • What do you want for your students’ future?   "If you look around this area, you'll find hospitals and micro-finance places. I talk to the kids about how they can get there with an education," he says. "People who don't have a high education, it's harder for them to find jobs. But someone with an education has more choices."

Prek Pneu

  • Community population - 12,743

  • Number of schools - 1 public primary school
  • Where people work - fish markets, fishing and garment factories

Meet the Coles

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