Mina lives in the remote Koh Kong region of Cambodia, a coastal community that is being forced to adapt to the slow onset of climate change.
Even though the storms rage, Mina attends a school with her friend Phala, where Save the Children has set up a climate change program as part of the school syllabus.
Mina, a top student in her class, is very smart and wants to be a doctor. Her favourite subject is Khmer literacy and drawing. She has plans to be a teacher when she grows up, but some days she worries about whether she can continue her education so she can reach her goal. She can tell you a lot about the extreme storms, strong winds and sea surges that hit her coastal home every year.
Climate change has cast a dark net of uncertainty on the entire region. The people here are completely confused and exasperated due to constant change in the weather patterns. In many poor communities, where families depend on subsistence farming for their survival, climate change is the tipping point that pushes vulnerable families into poverty and hunger.
Mina is scared of the thunder and lightning strikes that are becoming more regular and unpredictable. She fears that one day a storm may hit the school roof and fall on the students. But the skills she is learning are helping her prepare for these storms and stay safe.
As a student in a special program supported by Save the Children, called “Disaster Resilience through Improved Education and Livelihoods” (DRIEL), Mina learns more about what she can do to tackle climate change.
She and her classmates have learned about basic safety during disasters and are experimenting on various projects like raising chickens or growing papaya, jack fruit and bananas to make money.
They’re also learning about restoring mangroves, which are coastal communities’ first line of defense to absorb the incredible power of nature. Mina educates her parents about climate change and its impacts. (And her father takes everything she says very seriously!)
The hope is that when children can better cope with the disasters assaulting their tiny island village, the more their communities can become all the stronger for it.