Rural and isolated population in Southeast Asia - Children of the Mekong

Rural and isolated populations

The situation

Many children in Southeast Asia grow up in impoverished rural locations. They have to work in the fields from a very early age, as this is often the only way that their parents can ensure that there is food to put on the table. Exhausted by their labour, they often find it impossible to concentrate on their studies when they do get to go to school.
Weighed down by debt, families cannot afford the fees required for secondary school, let alone university. In Southeast Asia, secondary schools and universities are to be found only in the biggest towns, and sometimes only in the capital city. Families who live far away, deep in the countryside, are often unable to meet the cost of boarding and lodging in addition to the school fees.

  • A farmworker in Thailand typically earns around $150 per month, $100 less than the national average income.
  • In Laos, Cambodia and Myanmar, more than 70% of the population lives in the countryside.
  • In Cambodia, in 2012 there were only 433 secondary schools, many of which were in the capital, Phnom Penh.
  • The Philippines is experiencing a massive shift of population from the countryside to the towns of Manila and Cebu. On the islands of Samar and Leyte, extreme climate events mean that the rural population is struggling to survive, resulting in still more migration.
  • In Manila, all children complete primary school whereas on the island of Mindanao (also in the Philippines) only 30% of children do.


Our response

Sponsored children can afford to buy what they need for school (paper, pens, books etc), to pay their bus fares, and to fund the extra lessons they need to attend if they are to pass their exams. What is more, their families are compensated (often in the form of sacks of rice) for the fact that their children are no longer able to work to put food on the table.

Children of the Mekong sponsor children to live in boarding houses and education centres. This provides children from families who live in the most remote locations the chance to continue their schooling. Therefore, the children can study in peace, close to their schools and universities, without having to worry about their financials.

Young people who live at the centres are encouraged to give tuition, free of charge, to children in villages where provision is lacking. This is one way in which children sponsored by Children of the Mekong are able to give something back, working for the common good and future wellbeing of their country.

When you sponsor a child from remote areas, you give them the chance to build their own future and to break the circle of poverty.

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Sponsored children: 12 of 14

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Progress: 51%

Funds raised so far: 51%

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