I’m headed back to Cambodia at the end of the month on what will be my 6th trip to the Kingdom in the last two decades. Oddly enough, I currently have no plans for sightseeing.
I know, that’s not like me. Typically I’m an active planner (some have said obsessive)and it feels a bit odd but also freeing to travel without such obligations.
So why am I going?
This trip is primarily a return visit to see our friends at the Ponheary Ly Foundation, an incredible organization we’ve been involved with since 2007. The PLF helps provide access to quality education in Cambodia by funding uniforms, school supplies, bicycles, in-school food, wellness education, and teacher support.
Over the years I’ve watched the PLF expand from supporting primary schools to building residential housing for students remote villages coming in for secondary and high school. They now (in addition to much more) fund scholarships for high school and vocational training and for a select group of students, university scholarships.
We barely dreamed of such things a decade ago and now, they are happening.
What will we be doing this time?
For me, this will be a short trip of about 10 days. I’ll be traveling there with my mother who is a PLF Board Member and who will be staying for close to a month.
During my time there, we will be checking out the new Knar Village Learning Center and doing an overnight visit to Koh Ker school in the northern Provence of Preah Vihear.
Since 2007 we’ve watched Koh Ker school bloom from 3 small dilapidated buildings filled with 40 desperately malnourished and sick children and no teachers to one with six classrooms, 130+ happy kids, an outdoor kitchen, functional toilets, and a fully stocked purpose-built library and community center.
In 2014 many of you helped us raise money to fund the building of that library.
A new school the PLF hopes to bring into the fold:
PLF has managed to find a village school even further into the bush and we’ll travel to Prey Kuol (by tractor!) to further understand the goals of the community, meet the children and see how we can help PLF move the project forward.
Romchek Village Primary School
Finally, while up in Koh Ker, we’ll also journey to Romchek village about 25 kilometers away. The foundation has been working with this school for several years and they now have clean drinking water, school supplies and uniforms, hygiene training and supplies, an outdoor kitchen, and functional toilets. Recent construction has added buildings for an administrative office and a new classroom.
If you said “library” you’d be correct!
A school library is fundamental to student growth. In these rural communities, the primary school library is not simply a place for books and reading, but a multi-purpose learning space filled with educational games and functions as a community center for the whole village.
In the next few weeks before we leave, we will be gathering supplies to outfit the newly constructed Romchek library!
There are certain educational games and items which just aren’t available in Cambodia, or are too expensive. Therefore, we will be using our airline luggage allowance (two 50 lb bags each!) to carry over as much as we can. We did this with much success in 2014 for Koh Ker school. We’ll also be purchasing Khmer language books for early readers once we are in Cambodia.
Want to play a part in this?
Here’s what you can do to help support education in Cambodia:
*Check out the PLF’s Amazon wishlist and purchase something for the school which supports the library, science, media, arts and crafts, health and wellness, or English programs.
These items will be sent to us here in the US and we will carry them to Cambodia.
*Donate to the PLF directly and earmark your donation for where you want it to go.
* Send funds with us to buy Khmer language books or other supplies locally while we are there.
- Read more about the Ponheary Ly Foundation on their website. The PLF website offers full financial disclosures and information about all the various programs they offer to support education in Cambodia.
- See more of my personal experiences working with them on my previous blog posts.
- Make sure you check out Ponheary’s story too; she’s a CNN Hero and World of Children award winner.
If you’d like to follow along on the trip in real-time, make sure you follow me on Instagram! I’ll be posting photos of the schools and the new library when we are there.