U.S. Teens Share Education With Kids in Cambodia

ByABC News
February 1, 2007, 7:03 PM

PAILIN, Cambodia, Feb. 1, 2007 — -- In an extremely poor town in Cambodia, children are being robbed of their childhood by poverty, illiteracy, sex trafficking and AIDS.

Yet, down one dirt road, lines of neatly dressed children are now marching into a school with new chalk boards, books, computers and a connection to the Internet.

Cambodia's Overlake School is named after a school bearing that same name in Washington state, where students worked to fund their counterpart in Cambodia.

When the American students learned schools were badly needed in the Cambodian countryside, they began to work with the group American Assistance for Cambodia to build a school.

"Words can't express how proud I am of what we've accomplished," said 12th grader Kelsey Schmidt.

The students raised $15,000 through bake sales, talent shows and raffles to build the Cambodian school. Once the school was built, they kept raising funds for teachers, books and the computers.

Some of the students had the opportunity to travel to Cambodia to receive a hero's welcome from hundreds of children at the school.

Kun Sokkea, 13, said she's in school for the first time and can finally dream of a better future.

She lives in a one-room shack and her mother is dying of AIDS, but she is now e-mailing her American friends to update them on her studies and progress as she learns English.

"What I want to take away is the knowledge that one person, a high school student, can make this huge difference in someone's life," said 11th grader Nathan Cocanour.

And in a remote corner of Cambodia, the students of the Overlake School have certainly done just that.