sre ambel district, Koh Kong province – Soy Vichith, 14, is in seventh grade at Chikhor Kraum secondary school, but he and three of his seven siblings skip class regularly to go fishing with their father.
“Sometimes I am scared to go to the sea,” Soy Vichith said Saturday, adding that he might miss class as many as three times each week to go with his father or other fishermen here in Chambak village.
Like many families who live along the Koh Kong coast, Soy Vichith’s family does not own land to grow rice, and their income from fishing has not kept up with the increased price of rice.
Leaving on their small boats at 4 am and returning at 3 pm, Soy Vichith said that on a good day, his father and the other fishermen in this village might hoist aboard a catch worth about 10,000 riel, or $2.50, per day.
More recently, Soy Vichith said, their situation had become tougher, and his nine-member family recently had to cut back to just two meals per day.
On Saturday, Soy Vichith was among 232 students at Khsach Krorham primary school and Chikhor Kraum secondary school in Chikhor Kraum commune, who each received 30 kg of rice donated by The Cambodia Daily Rice Crisis Campaign.
Ky Kheng, 29, said she had come to the school to help carry home the 90 kg of rice donated to her three school-going children.
She said she was happy with the donation, as her family does not have any rice left in stock and the 90-kg supply will provide them with enough rice for three months.
The price of second-quality rice in the village has risen from 1,000 riel per kilogram last year to 2,500 riel, Ky Kheng said, while her family’s income from fishing remained the same at about 4,000 riel per day.
To be able to buy rice, Ky Kheng said, she recently had to sell some new clothes she had bought.
“If the rice price keeps going up, my children will have to stop going to school and help with the work,” she said.