Recently, we set-up a new learning center in the community of Tonloab, located in the south of Takeo province, Cambodia. Since a few weeks the center experiences the support of a group of 6 graders who voluntarily help the staff with mainly tasks.
After the opening day, many visitors – mainly students – excitedly come every day to the learning center to enjoy the books and to play with educational toys in a child-friendly library’s environment. A few weeks after its opening, a group of 6th graders showed up in front of the head of learning center’s desk and told him they had some free hours in the morning and were interested in helping him organizing messy books in the library. Our colleague happily welcomed their willingness and offered them volunteer positions. The group consists of nine young girls: Sreyneath, Nanithsara, Sreyvong, Vannary, Putheariya, Kimlay, Somalymeas, Sopheara and Naisonita. They all are classmates and students of the primary school where our learning center is located.
The girls now mainly help with helping younger kids to look for books at the right bookshelves, helping the librarian with registering/tallying numbers of visitors coming in the library, cleaning the library, watching younger kids playing with toys and telling them to organize the toys after they stop playing as well as helping the librarian in tidying up books. Each day after finishing their extra courses in the morning, they spend one or two hours a day, six days a week, to support our librarian and head of learning center in controlling young kids exploring books and playing toys in the library.
When being asked why they wanted to become volunteers at the learning center, Putheariya (age 13) said that from the beginning on when she came to the library she was asked to help in sweeping and collecting rubbish in front of the learning center. When she came the next day, she saw a long queue of kids waiting for being letting in the library. Our librarian told her that if she worked in the library she could get in without having to wait. She then decided to become a volunteer and later also her friends wanted to become volunteers.
Answering to the question what they like about their voluntary work in the library, volunteer Nanithsara (13) explained that this job gave her the chance to know many books with colorful pictures and nice stories when tidying them up. She also likes it to advise younger kids to behave well and take care of books in the library. Her friend Kimlay added that reading story books in the library makes her happy and as she doesn´t want to spend time watching TV at home she decided to become volunteer at the library in order to have time to work with books.
Being asked about their parents’ views on the voluntary job, Sreyneath (12) smilingly replied that she already told her parents about it and that they are happy that she works in the library. She likes to be in the library and will continue this job until she finishes schooling there. If being promoted to secondary school and having free time she will keep doing this job, she confirmed.