A local human rights group is heading back to Cambodia this spring to deliver bicycles to school children in need.
It all started five years ago, when a group of donors from Idaho’s Wassmuth Center for Human Rights took a trip to Cambodia. Center Executive Director Dan Prinzing says they found that kids were dropping out of school by the fifth grade. That’s because of the distance from the village to school.
“A student may have to walk up to 15 miles to get to school, so they drop out, they quit going. When we first discovered that we said, O.K. we can step in and make a difference by providing a bicycle. It keeps a student on the road to an education,” says Prinzing.
That’s when the Peddles and Packs program was born. Donors and Idaho school students raise money each year to provide a bike and a backpack for kids in Cambodia who have to ride for miles around fields of land mines, just to get to school.
“These are students that either live the greatest distance from school or they may be the top students in their class or they me be really struggling so for some it’s a reward, for others, it’s an incentive. The main goal: We want to keep them going to school,” says Prinzing.
Prinzing tells Idaho Matters that last year, the program placed 310 bicycles with kids in Cambodia.
“If you drop out, if you’re not in agriculture, the student has options of prostitution or drug trafficking. And so we said we’ve got to keep them going on in school. It increases the likelihood not only for that student himself, it’s for the family, it’s for the village, it is the growth of the country,” says Prinzing.
When the Center returns to Cambodia this March, they’ll be bringing another 150 bicycles for kids in need.
Find Samantha Wright on Twitter @samwrightradio
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