“I’m not afraid of the big waves anymore.” 

This pre-schooler attends a Save the Children First Read Program designed to promote early learning and development in the remotest corners of Cambodia. 

This spunky five-year-old has so much personality, she can hardly contain it inside her small body. Seima lives with her family in a floating village Ses Slab, on the Tonle Sap Lake in an isolated area of Cambodia. All of the homes float on the lake – which is filled with fish, snakes and rare Siamese crocodiles – a source of fear for the villagers. Another source of fear is drowning – the water rises from 3.5-feet deep to nearly 30 feet deep during the wet season, and monsoons bring even more uncertainty. More than 1 million people live in these floating villages.

 “Yesterday, my boat sank at the back,” Seima says. “I wear a life jacket because I can’t swim.”

The village also has a floating pre-school, which Seima loves. Seima’s teacher picks up the village’s pre-school aged children by boat, and they travel to the school, singing and playing games to calm the children during the boat ride. At the school, Seima and her classmates learn to read, sing and count. Save the Children trains teachers, provides teaching materials and pays to help rebuild the school, which is needed every year due to the high water.

“My teacher teaches us numbers and the alphabet and to sing songs,” Seima chirps. “I love Teacher Roth. I try to study every day because I want to be like her. Now, when I grow up, I want to be a teacher, a nurse and a doctor!”  

Seima wearing an orange life jacket, with a cloudy sky and water in the background.
Seima and one of her classmates sit together on the classroom floor. Seima has a book in her lap, her class mate is holding a book and reading.

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