Monday, April 11, 2016

The Cambodia Academy at Mongko Borei

The Cambodia Academy at Mongkol Borei
Prior to out trip to SE Asia, Harvey’s cousin Marissa and her husband David, I knew only briefly thru 2 different family functions. They have spent many years of their lives working in Japan teaching English. Seemingly kind and friendly people, they extended invitations to us to visit in Thailand where they have a part time home. When the conversation commenced scheduling our visit while in SE Asia; the how-to’s and when-to’s of meeting up, I began to admire how they have chosen to conduct their life. The schedule had to fit around their trip to India to give inoculations to children, their volunteer work at a vision clinic in Cambodia thru the Rotarian Club to obtain glasses for school children and finally, meeting in Siem Reap for the follow up appointment with a little girl which they personally funded a repair to her crossed eyes. I can’t begin to say how touched and impressed with their lifestyle. Of course, we were willing to work around all of it to meet up. So the final decision was to meet up with them in Siem Reap during the follow up visit to the eye clinic and then go tour the school (near Battambang) in which they are involved. 

Students are excited to learn

Several years ago, Marissa and David became involved with The Cambodian Academy in Mongkol Borei.       (

Marissa and a bright young mind
The Academy is a school for some of the poorest, rural Cambodian children teaching them a curriculum which emphasizes English, Khmer (the Cambodian Language), science, math, and social studies which will improve their employment opportunities later in life.  The school goes thru Grade 9. Most of the children are “orphans” in effect, living with grandparents after parents move to Thailand for job opportunities. Education is not compulsory and often is not affordable for the poorest of Cambodians leading to generations stuck in a cycle of poverty. This school was founded to change this cycle.

The Teachers Lounge

The Cambodia Academy, founded in April 2004 by Rotarian Hans Eide, who believed that education is the best way to build lives and future, serves breakfast and lunch prepared on campus daily assuring that students will at least have two meals per school day. With an average of 350 Students, that is 14,000 meals a month! Students are given 2 uniforms a year and their families (2)-25 pound bags of rice yearly.

14,000 meals a month-students wash and clean dishes after meals

The kitchen - one pot for rice, the other for soup.
Unfortunately, our visit was marred by the untimely death of Hans Eide, the founder, dynamic force and whom has been a pivotal in driving donations funding the school. Though we attended a funeral instead of classes, the experience nonetheless was life changing meeting these beautiful children so eager to learn! So many children, prior graduates and parents showed up for the formal funeral. Even the Governor of the Provence was there; that’s how important this school is to the area and how important Hans influence has been.

Each Lotus bloom was placed by a student, teacher or parent

We were treated as honored guests. Students flocked to us to practice their English skills and inquire “where are you from?” Proudly they led us to their classrooms, their cafeteria, the computer room, the play area. So many children said they wanted to be “teachers” they grew up. One looked me in the eye and said, “a doctor.” When you are a child, dreams can be real
Future Teachers of Cambodia

These young men want an education to be good providers for their families

We ended the day with Marissa giving an English class. English Word Bingo. The bingo cards had simple English words and pictures to match up. Every eye in the class was intent on her words and face. Never have I seen such a group so  determined to understand, so hungry to learn. Everybody in the class got a small prize afterward, but the real prize was the chance to be the first one in their family to create a generation released from the grasp of poverty.

Let's play Bingo!

The school is in desperate need for a fresh water filtration unit, as their old one has broken and is too old for parts. That means no clean drinking water on a campus of 350! Please consider giving a small donation if you can. All money goes directly to keeping the school going and can be used as a tax deduction.

“Be the change you wish to see in the world “ - M. Gandhi

No comments: