The Cambodia Academy of Mongkol Borei

There are many areas of the world where children have little or no chance; no chance for a safe nor meaningful life, no chance for moving up and out of poverty, no chance to avoid the evils of child labor and even prostitution. Yet, here and there across this wasteland of youth, Rotary is making a difference. Individual Rotarians and Rotary clubs are actively creating education programs for youth. One beautiful example of this kind of "service above self" is 
theCambodia Academy of Mongkol Borei. The purpose of this week's program of the Rotary E-Club of One World is to acquaint you with this worthwhile International Service Project and to solicit both your individual financial support as well as that of the One World Rotary Club.To help those children who have "no chance"

"Education is the most powerful weapon you can use to change the world."
– Nelson Mandela




Founding a Rotary-sponsored school

Hans quickly found that at least half of the students came to school having no breakfast at home. And, he found that a simple and inexpensive uniform would be important to the students' pride and performance. He added breakfasts and lunches with the assistance of students' mothers and groups of older students. By 2010, the school had 259 students who would then grow up to be literate (sign their name instead of using thumb prints as they do in Cambodia) with a good basic knowledge of English, History, Geography, and a strong chance for a higher education, or at least a good job other than construction … or worse, as you might imagine.
Located in the remote northwest of Cambodia, this Rotary-sponsored school was imagined and created in 2004 by Rotarian Hans Eide, of the Foster City California Rotary Club. Hans had been touched by the the genuine kindness of the locals, and yet he felt unsettled by the widespread poverty suffered in the aftermath of the Vietnam War and Khmer Rouge era. He noticed an underutilized building in the area and envisioned a plan to make it into a useful and growing school, a school in a region where education is neither compulsory nor affordable for the poorest families. He found support from his fellow Rotarians, and the school began. Hans had support from many Rotarians including John Barrett, Stanley Togikawa and the Rotary Clubs of San Mateo and Siem Reap, Cambodia.


A new school campus was build and opened in 2010

Watch A Three-Minute Video of the New School Openingon October 1, 2010:Thanks to the generosity of the Shiraki Foundation, the school completed the construction of a second building in the summer of 2012. During that time, the school also reached a maximum enrollment of 345 students in twelve classes in grades K-9. The current curriculum emphasizes English and all general subjects such as Khmer (the local language), math, science, and social studies. The Cambodia Academy is located in the Mongkol Borei District, which is within the Banteay Meanchey Province, in far northwestern Cambodia. There are approximately 157 villages in the district, and as of 1998, the population was about 138,000.


Students are taught practical matters - including "saving money"

In 2009, Hans Eide reported: 
"When I found out that one of our 7th graders is tutoring other children, and getting paid for it, I encouraged the other students in his class to do the same. This led me to wanting to teach the students the concept of saving money. So we went to the local bank where we got permission for the students to open savings accounts for as little as 4,000 riel ($1). The bank will pay 2% interest and I promised to personally match their deposits 50 cents on the dollar every year. The accounts will be locked at least till they graduate. Those too young to earn money will be allowed to put some of the money they receive from you [contributors] into their accounts. Please understand, these are kids whose parents never had a bank account. I just want them to see for themselves how saved money can grow if left alone. Of course, they will also have to learn that they cannot expect 50% return in real life!"

Raising the flag at the new school

The new campus was opened on October 1, 2010. (This one minute video is in the Khmer language yet gives a good idea of the scope of the school.)


From rural isolation to computers in a decade

By 2011, computers were being introduced into the classes. Hans said, "All the students now get two classes per week on the computers that John Barrett provided with the financial help of Stanley Togikawa, the Rotary Clubs of San Mateo and Siem Reap along with a Rotary Foundation Matching Grant. Some students actually have their own email address which they can use in internet cafes, and we are working on establishing an internet connection at the school. Vice Principal Laum has also been successful in "renting" the land behind our main school building, where students now have started growing vegetables. In the rainy season, when the field floods, they will grow rice. The rent for the land is two sacks of rice per year out of the 10-12 sacks we expect the field to produce. The excess will be used for students' meals. We have also established a student council … to offer suggestions on how the school can be improved and also voice any concerns. … In spite of the many reminders of the difficulties inherent in trying to "do good" in Cambodia, seeing the students thrive makes it all worthwhile. Obviously, it could not be done without your help, and I sincerely appreciate your support."

Students celebrate International Children's Day

In just a decade, the students have moved from hopeless rural poverty to the modern world. In 2014 with only two days of preparation, they created a "fashion show" to celebrate International Children's Day. The entire program was managed, directed and modeled by the students from grades 10B, 11B, 12A, and 12B in academic year 2013-2014. With only two days to practice, they created a fun time and unforgettable memories. Watch this five-minute video (in Khmer language) to see the energy of the students:


Are you willing to help?

The author of this program has supported one student for the past three years at a nominal cost. (Her name is Vandy Prom, and once a year, she writes to me. I am proud that she is at the top of her class.)This is now the time to ask for your donation to this worthy project!

You too could support a student for just $250 per year. That provides: tuition, two uniforms, transportation to campus, and meals. And, the e-Club One World could make a significant one-time, or ongoing gift to the California- based 501(c)(3) of the Cambodia Academy. If you can be a supporter, go to: and click on the Donation tab. They have room for 345 students, but still need 100 sponsors. Their U.S. address is: Hans Eide, 1534 Plaza Lane, #320, Burlingame, California 94010.

The student pictured here is saying, "Thank you for helping me." This is exactly how Rotary can give children "a chance."


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