This World Mission Month, students in Catholic schools across Australia are invited to ‘Sock it to Poverty’ by supporting missionaries, like Sister Eulie and her fellow Daughters of Charity, to help children break the cycle of poverty their families are experiencing by providing them with an education they would otherwise never be able to access.

In the most disadvantaged communities of Cambodia, many children are forced to stay home from school due to several reasons associated with the fact that their families live in poverty, such as:

With no formal education, these children will not be able to get good jobs when they grow up and are very likely to remain living in poverty.

Maly, who lives in Beoung Trabaek Village on the outskirts of Cambodia’s capital city of Phnom Penh, is one of the precious children featured in the DVD ‘Just as you did it to one of the least of these… you did it to me.’ At only ten years old Maly must stay home all day in an unsafe area to care for her four younger siblings, including a baby sister, while her mother, Huong, works long hours selling shells on the street barely making enough to survive. Sadly, Maly’s father is often absent for long periods and Huong struggles to provide for her children when he is away.

Huong has no choice but to leave her children at home all day by themselves while she is at work, which makes her worry constantly. As she says: “I feel scared that something bad will happen to my children when I leave them alone all day when I work, like being stolen or abused.”

Thankfully, with the help of Catholic Mission, Sister Eulie developed and implemented an innovative Mobile Tuk-Tuk Education Centre, which visits Maly’s village once per week to provide a free and accessible education to Maly and all the other children of her community who are not able to attend school.

Maly’s mother is very thankful for this project. “I know they are safe when the tuk-tuk is here”, she says. “Maly cannot go to school, so I thank you for the tuk-tuk coming to us. Maly seems so happy and I want her to have a good future”.

Maly also loves it when the tuk-tuk visits her village. “I want to learn Khmer and English. I also like taking my sister to the tuk-tuk so she can learn. I want my sister to become a doctor”, says Maly.

Sadly, there are still countless children across Cambodia who are not able to attend school. Sister Eulie needs your help so that the Mobile Tuk-Tuk Education Centre can visit more communities in need and help more and more children like Maly have access to education. Particularly, they would like to be able to afford to visit Maly’s community more than just one half a day per week, which is not enough for the kids to receive a proper education.

Students across Australia can ‘Sock it to Poverty’ and help children like Maly by fundraising for Catholic Mission. Together as a class or school group, students are invited to raise money by creating a fundraising activity based around socks or a Cambodia-inspired theme, and ask family and friends to sponsor them through cash donations.

Fundraising is an excellent way for students to reach out to children in Cambodia, and all around the world.

As part of nurturing the Catholic identity of your community, the Bishops and Directors of Diocesan School Administration have asked every Catholic School in Australia to support Catholic Mission’s work with children. Students have the opportunity to support Sister Eulie in helping children in the poorest communities of Cambodia break the cycle of poverty through the gift of education.

This year is the Year of Mercy, and the Holy Father, Pope Francis, has called us to be hands of Mercy.

It’s now up to us! Together we can give education and a new future to the least of these children in Cambodia and all around the world.