Librarian with a heart of gold – an awakening of a memory.

Librarian with a heart of gold - an awakening of a memory.

Sreylam is one of the quiet unsung heroes at Savong’s School, serving many years as librarian. As any school librarian knows, the job involves encouragement of new students and the creation of an environment that is conducive to the full flight of young imaginations. I cannot imagine anyone better suited to the role than Leam Sreylam: she is like a child-magnet and in her presence students open themselves up.

When I first met her I was reminded at once of a teacher of mine, when I was 5 and in Canada. Mrs Cohoe was a golden presence who made us feel so welcome in her classroom. When I was almost 40 I visited Canada once more and looked Mrs Cohoe up in the phone book. I gave her a call and her now elderly voice creaked open like a door. “Ye-e-e-e-e-s?” she asked.

“You won’t remember me but my name is Duncan….” but she chipped in and completed the sentence.
“…Duncan Stuart…why your family emigrated to New Zealand in 1961. How is your mother Margaret?”
We swapped notes and it appeared that Miss Cohoe had kept tabs with legions of students. So I asked her, “How do you keep in touch with everyone?”
“Well, I don’t know about that,” she pondered, “it seems everybody keeps in touch with me.”

Sreylam is from the local community and I’m certain that even though she is very quiet and unassuming she’ll also have legions of students who grow up and forever remember her as a favourite. What a difference these wonderful individuals make in our lives.

For more about my favorite library in Cambodia – click here. And here. And about other initiatives in Cambodia – Room to Read.

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A visit by two modest heroes from the USA

A visit from two modest heroes from the USA

In 2008 the school received an unexpected and very welcome contact from an American couple from Allentown, Pennsylvania. The couple actually grew up in Uganda and Tanzania during the 1970s, and they had attended schools quite similar to Savong’s School. Dilshad and Amir had seen Savong’s School on our website and simply connected with the objectives of the school. They knew what a huge difference their schools had made in their own lives. “We’d like to give something back,” they told us, “we’d like to build a library.”
Five years later I took this photo of Dilshad, talking with head teacher Sovannarith outside the library she and her husband built. That building, is the hub of the school – providing reading space, computer teaching space, office space and noticeboard space for the students results.