November 25, 2013
Chankham is on track to become the first in her family to graduate from secondary school. The youngest daughter born to a family of five children in Laos, Chankam is making her mother and late father very proud.
“Before Chankham enrolled in the Girls’ Education program, I had no idea what her future would be," explains her mother, Ms. On. "I was crying with happiness when Chankham’s teacher told me that Room to Read was coming to support girls in the school. I immediately approved her admission into their program.”
After her husband passed away, Ms. On could no longer afford the higher secondary school fees that were required in Laos, forcing Chankham’s four older siblings--two girls and two boys--to drop out of school after 5th grade to find jobs and marry early. By the time Chankham reached secondary school, she was fortunate to have an opportunity to follow a different path and enroll in Room to Read's Girls’ Education Program.
Before the program, Chankham used to wake before dawn each day to make the seven kilometer (4.3 mile) trek to school and back, often returning late in the evening. Room to Read not only provided her with a bicycle to shorten her commute, but also provided her with textbooks, notebooks, pencils, pens, tutoring, mentorship and lifeskills training.
Chankham now excells in school and her favorite subjects is math and science. “I like math because it is both challenging and fun,” she says. “Before, I wasn’t a fan of math class but the tutoring class by the Girls’ Education program changed my mind.” It's a good thing she likes math because Chankham hopes to become a physician, a career that her late father always dreamed of for her.
Mr. Bounchanh Vilayphet, the school principal, is impressed with Chankham’s work ethic. “Chankham is a quiet person but a real fighter. Regardless of her difficult situation, she has never given up on studying and has become the top student in class.”
“The name Chankham means moonlight shining in a golden color,” Chankham's mother explains proudly. “My husband and I wished our youngest daughter to be the shining moonlight of our family--and she is.”
Chankham utilizes her new-found passion to not only inspire her family, but also to inspire the people around her. In class, she often volunteers to help her classmates with difficult math problems utilizing the skills she learned from her own tutoring class.
“I am happy to help other people as much as I can. At the same time, I know I have to study harder. As long as I do my best, I will also be able to help my family in the future. I will make them proud!” she exclaims.