A father in Cambodia recently went viral for weaving his son a school bag after it proved too expensive to buy.The boy’s teacher was so impressed by the bag she took some pictures of it and posted them on the internet.The response was overwhelming. Since then, the pictures have impressed people around the world, many of whom have been moved to send donations of money to help others buy school supplies.
The student, 5-year-old NY Keng, is the son of a farmer. His father decided to weave a bag for him out of raffia string instead of trying to find the money to buy one.The teacher said that backpacks in their area cost about 30,000 riels, which is roughly the equivalent of $7.The region of Cambodia is largely populated by farmers, including the student’s father.
For them, school supplies are expensive and difficult to afford. So, when the boy’s teacher, Sophous Suon, saw the boy’s original backpack, she knew she had to share it on social media.
“People said that it’s heartwarming, touching,” said Suon. “A few foreigners asked for contacts. My school leader already sent his contact for them.”
She added the online reactions have praised the father’s creativity and his dedication to his son.
The bag is woven with a lot of skill. It’s also made of durable, partially-waterproof material and includes two straps and a buckle to keep the top flap secure.
“This bag is awesome,” commented one internet user. “If it gets dirty, you can wipe it off with a cloth. Probably isn’t hard to water-proof either.”
Others pointed out that the father’s solution wasn’t just more cost-effective, but also possibly better quality than what they would have been able to find in a store.
What’s even better is that his son will one day realize the meaning behind his unique school bag. Some people even shared similar things their own parents had done for them.
“Better than store bought,” said another internet user. “My dad repaired my old lunch box handle by doing a fancy braided rope and weaved it back on itself. Way better.”
Raffia string, also called polypropylene raffia, is a common packaging material made from polypropylene.
It’s a highly-versatile packaging substance that gets its name from its similar appearance to the raffia plant.
Education in Cambodia has made big strides in recent years, especially since the turn of the century.
But there is still a long way to go. Many parents sacrifice a lot to help send their children to school, recognizing the importance of education.
The Cambodian government has hugely expanded access to education in the last decade, having built close to 1,000 new schools and helped provide almost universal access to primary education. In 2016, almost 98 percent of school-age children had access to schooling. Additionally, gender disparity has dropped in recent years, with almost half of all primary school students in Cambodia being female.