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A Larchmont Mother's Fight for Literacy

LARCHMONT, N.Y. -- Mony Liquard knows first hand how access to books and schools can save a life, which is why she joined the international non-profit Room to Read.

Liquard is a Director at GE Captial in Connecticut, but thirty years ago, she was a child living under the Khmer Rouge in her native Cambodia. Before her family fled to Thailand at age 8, her education in the communist regime's labor camps focused on "obeying the government and spying on your parents and other people," she said.

Liquard and her widowed mother, relatives and a new-born cousin, spent a year-and-a-half at a Thai refugee camp, before arriving in the U.S. Meanwhile, Pol Pot's regime from 1975 to 1978 wiped out nearly all of Cambodia's educated people and collapsed their school system.

Today, the Larchmont resident works with Room To Read's Westchester chapter to introduce opportunity where there is none. "Reading, writing and learning are like candy for children in rural Cambodia, because it's a luxury," Liquard said. "I am committed to contribute in what small way I can to help other children have opportunities of education as a way out of poverty."

While the Westchester chapter launched just last year, the international movement has built 12,500 libraries and more than 1,400 schools. Room To Read has also provided more than 10,000 scholarships to girls, who would otherwise be unable to continue their education.

Liquard's family landed in Salt Lake City, where a church offered them donated clothes, which her classmates at school pointed out, laughing, were pajamas. She just thought they were clothes she could wear.

Now, she is a mother of two and four month pregnant, and hopes to impart the same lesson her grandfather, a former salt farmer, once told her: "I leave you not wealth but education because this is the wealth that no one can ever steal from you."

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