Loeur Saveth is not the typical second grade student at her primary school in Kampong Chhnang Province, Cambodia. That is because Saveth is a 22-year-old woman. Saveth, the youngest of nine siblings, was born deaf and does not speak. Growing up, she never attended school because there were neither specialized schools nor teachers who knew how to support students with hearing loss in or around her community.
Pausing from reading a book while sitting in a hammock, Thida* (name given by author to protect the child), a 13-year-old girl, told us that she loves her parents, especially her father because he is now taking good care of her and her siblings.
Tha Sreyneang, nine years old, smiles at us from her bicycle as she slowly passes on her ride to school – a four-kilometer journey. Sreyneang is in second grade at Kaoh Voat primary school, but at nine years old, Sreyneang is older than most of the other students in second grade. Sreyneang’s parents did not enrol her in school when she was the appropriate age, mostly because they did not have time to take her. She only started to attend first grade when she was eight years old and able to travel to school by herself.
One morning, a young boy named Sela sits on the stairs at his home in Chamkar Ou commune in Pursat province. This was the first time we met him, but we could not communicate with one another. Sela is seven years old, and lives with profound hearing loss. The staff of Krousar Thmey, trained in Cambodian Sign Language, tried to communicate with him using signs, but still there was no response. He has never learned any sign language to communicate with people outside his family.
Srei Ros is 17 years old and comes from a family of farmers. She lives in Kor Commune in Tboung Khmum province with her parents and five siblings: two sisters and three brothers. Her father works in the rice fields, while her mother cooks and sells Ansorm Ang, Cambodian rice cakes. Providing for such a big family is not easy and they often struggled to make ends meet.
Save the Children's third annual End of Childhood Index compares the latest data for 176 counties-more that any other year-and assesses where the most and fewest children are missing out on childhood. This report includes case studies of counties that have made strong progress in improving children's well-being in recent decades.