School isn’t just a place with good classrooms, colorful walls, and well-prepared lessons. Nuth Angkea, a teacher at Kumru Krong Tbong Primary School in Kampong Chhang province, Cambodia knew that for students to truly learn and make the most out of their days in school, they needed to be healthy. His heart sank every time one of his students would miss class because of diarrhea or dehydration. Without clean water to wash their hands after using the toilet and without safe water for drinking, it proved difficult to keep them healthy and in school.
In 2014, Thrive partnered with the Provincial Department of Rural Development in Kampong Chhanang to build solar power water supply systems in three primary schools, including the school where Angkea taught. When it was time to recruit local champions to help run the project, Angkea immediately raised his hand.
He joined a team of volunteers that helped manage the water supply systems for the 4,000 students and 200 teachers of Kumru Krong Tbong Primary School, Kumry Krong Cheung Primary School, and Krong Kampong Chhang High School.
Two years after the project, Angkea shares proudly that the water supply systems for all three schools are running smoothly. Because of his heart for the students, the equipment remained in excellent shape and he also went beyond his responsibilities. His passion was contagious. He shared his learnings on the water system with fellow teachers who eventually joined him in maintaining the equipment. He also taught his students the importance of taking care of the equipment and conserving water. Understanding the importance of water quality, his students became champions for clean water and would help him clean the water filters every month.
Angkea and his colleagues also made the water available to the families of the students so they can continue having clean water at home. Selling 20-liters of water at $.25 each, they were able to raise around $5 a day that covered the costs of other needs like books and learning materials.
With a steady supply of drinking water, Angkea was overjoyed to see his students focus on their lessons and have more time for play. Being named the best school water supply system in a recent assessment of the Ministry of Education is just a bonus for Angkea, who is content and happy to see his students and students from neighboring schools enjoy learning every day. His heart for service has motivated him to always go beyond what is expected of him as a teacher and a member of his community. His hard work has not only changed the lives of his students, but the community he belongs to.