When I was young, my mom packed my lunch and I could often times count on a Hershey’s kiss or sweet note to comfort me as I opened my bag. I’m blessed as I recall these memories, blessed by the simple ways in which my mom was able to say “I love you,” when she couldn’t be with me. As I write these words, there is something that stands out to me, however, and it’s that my mom was able to.
Many of the women we employ at Landmine Design are mothers themselves. The Landmine Design family is filled with little ones who crawl on top of us, greet us at the door, and help with our jewelry and clean up. These mothers love their children deeply; they work tirelessly to provide for their families, and they’re seeking to educate themselves so they may be role models to their children. Yet, most of these mothers are still not able to pack their children a healthy lunch consistently let alone afford the luxury of saying “I love you,” with a piece of chocolate.
In 2010, we built a school for the children of the MineField Village. Education, a powerful tool to challenge the cycle of poverty, we learned was simply not enough. Providing education for areas of poverty such as the MineField Village led us to needs that were greater than we understood.The school building, books, and teachers were in place, yet the focus of the children was not. The children were hungry.
We learned that meals were not guaranteed in their homes because their mothers simply often could not provide. Lack of nutrition functioned as a blockade to the academic progress we yearned for. This knowledge gave life to build and begin our feeding program, where kids line up each school day with bowls and spoons from home as the cook fills their bowls with nutritious meals. Slowly but surely we watched as bowls filled with rice, stomachs filled with food, and focus on the children improved. These children not only had the opportunity to go to school, they had the opportunity to learn, to retain, and to feed their minds for the success of tomorrow.
At Landmine Design, we believe one learns by leaning in close and loving individuals deeply - this way of working and developing in Cambodia stems from our goal to be relentless in improving and loving better with every tomorrow. The mothers within The Landmine Design program deserve to provide their children with access to education, of course, but these mothers also deserve the little moments that say “I love you,” and “I’m thinking of you.” As I watch the children line up to receive their daily meal, I look at their bowls and spoons their mothers sent to school with them- some are blue, some have flowers on them, some children pull them from their book bags while others use their spoon to pretend it’s a drum. I look at their school uniforms, some are newly washed, some are dirty but I notice mismatched buttons leading me to believe their mother took the time to replace a missing button, to ensure her child was dressed for success.
I have to believe each day as these mothers send their children off to school, they have peace in knowing the spoon and bowl they provide their child will be met with a meal, that their newly sewn on button or freshly washed uniform will set their child apart. While they may not have chocolates to sneak in their book bags they have assurance their tomorrow will be better because of the work we’re fighting for today.
We did not know to educate a child was to dignify a mother. We learned this. To continue the education of the kids of the MineField Village is to continue the education of us as staff, to better equip, to better prepare, and to more strongly build the successes of tomorrow together.
To arm a village in education is to arm a village in progress. We believe this village is becoming a force dangerously fatal to the cycle of poverty. Donate now to help us build fourth and fifth grade within The MineField Village. Donate now so the mothers at Landmine Design can continue to say, “I love you,” in the way they provide for their children, even if it’s just a spoon and bowl met with rice. We believe tomorrow it will be far more.