Last November, photographers Kristin Harrison and Jeremy Ginsberg (teamjk.com) met up with our team in Cambodia to photograph Lisang's story for our 2011 Girls' Education Yearbook. Below are their reflections (and photos) from the shoot.
Smart, funny and quietly confident, Girls' Education program student Lisang instantly charmed us. We met her in the middle of a rice field in Kampong Cham province, a two-hour drive from Phnom Penh, the capital of Cambodia. She was busily harvesting rice with women three times her age.
To help support her ailing parents and two younger siblings, 13-year-old Lisang works in the rice fields from 6 am – 12 pm before going to class in the afternoon. On weekends, she performs this back-breaking work full-time. After school, she cooks and cleans at home. Somehow, she manages to squeeze in time for homework, too.
She good-naturedly let us photograph her life for the 2011 Girls' Education Yearbook, and invited us into her world. We tagged along as she worked in the rice fields, prepared lunch at home over an open fire and attended classes at school. At the end of the day, we offered to teach her how to use one of our cameras, and she took to it instantly, smiling and laughing as she photographed students in her school's Room to Read library.
Throughout the day, Lisang inspired us with her passion for education, cheerful spirit and incredible dedication to family. Since then, we’ve thought of her often.
It’s clear that Lisang could achieve anything she wanted if given the opportunity, but she and her family are trapped in the heartbreaking quicksand of poverty, and it poses a major roadblock to her future. With the help of Room to Read, she has found an escape route through education and with it the chance to achieve her dreams. It was an honor to work with her.
All gifts matched through May 31! From now through the end of May, all donations will be matched up to $150,000 by our partners, Hilton Worldwide. Honor the influential women in your life with a gift that has the power to change a generation.www.roomtoread.org/MayMatch.