Jul 1, 2019

Education is bringing hope

With the second half of the calendar year now in full swing, we're pleased to give you more information and insight into how your support is making a difference.

Here at ISF, we offer ongoing holistic support to all our Education Programme students including healthcare, two school meals six days per week, monthly food parcels for their families, school fees, uniforms and other materials, English classes, computer classes, extra-curricular activities such as sport and dance, vocational training and Employment Support. 

215 students are currently studying two grades in one year in our Catch-up Education Programme. We were delighted to see 88% of our catch-up students pass their exams in May with flying colours, progressing to the next grade. The 26 students who failed will have to repeat the grade and will have a chance to attend extra classes at ISF.

A further 379 students are supported to study at government-run schools in Phnom Penh. Each student received two uniforms, a pair of shoes, a backpack and a set of stationary. 45 state school students who had to walk more than 2km to school also received bicycle and helmets. During the reporting period, our students’ attendance rates have been high (93%) and the percentage of students scoring above average has increased by 27% compared to the last quarter.

Receiving an education is an opportunity that ten-year-old Saren* has grabbed with both hands. Life for him isn’t easy but he manages to attend school every day, to study hard, to help his mother sell fruit in the evenings and to play football in between – all with focus and a determination to succeed.

Saren is one of 11 siblings and the first in his family to go to school, a chance he didn’t think he’d get to have as his family’s income was too low to cover education costs for any of the children. Attending school is more than just the chance to learn the state curriculum, for Saren it’s a chance to learn and practice English (his favourite subject), to play with his friends, to join ISF’s Football Programme and to have a break from difficult living conditions at home.

To support nutrition as well as help compensate for any loss of income due to a child attending school, ISF provides the families of students with monthly food parcels. This has gone a long way in Saren’s household and means that two of his other siblings are now also able to receive an education – one at ISF and one at state school.

Saren’s favourite pastime is football which he excels at and was a key player in the winning team that took home first place in the U10 Boys category of the AIA-ISF Youth League 2018/19. Every day at school, in between classes, he can be found kicking a ball around with his friends and teammates. Saren’s favourite subjects include Khmer and English and he can also be found practicing speaking and reading English with his classmates.

Saren’s English teacher Hanlie has praised him for his hard work and he is very proud to be considered a top student. “I’m very happy that my teacher said that I’m a smart student and get to good grades” he says. “I’m always reading my textbook and happy to practice English with foreign visitors when they come to visit ISF” he adds.

In the future, Saren dreams of becoming an English teacher and a football player for the Cambodian National Team.

From education to healthcare to nutrition and football competitions, we're striving to reduce inequalities in the communities where we're working and make a difference where it matters most. As always, thank you for supporting our work and making good news stories like Saren’s possible.

Saren, ISF student
Saren, ISF student


Apr 3, 2019

Thanks to You: Over 600 Children in School

With the first quarter of the calendar year behind us, we are pleased to give you a round-up of the most recent news from ISF and update you on how your support is continuing to make all the difference to marginalized children in Cambodia.

ISF supports a total of 216 students in our Catch-up Programme where they study two grades in one year to catch up to the correct grade for their age and join government provided schooling. With 90% of students progressing to the next grade and 80 catch-up students progressing to state school last year, we are confident our latest cohort of students will pass their exams with flying colours. 

A further 393 students are supported to study at state schools in Phnom Penh and we provide them with uniforms, school materials, healthcare and nutrition. In addition to this, state school students continue to have access to all of ISF’s projects, including English and Information and Communications Technology (ICT) lessons, extra-curricular activities, employment and vocational support. On average, we distribute almost 600 food parcels per month to the families of our students. We also provide two school meals a day, six days a week and offer free healthcare to all our students.

Since 2017, we have been supporting past student Bunleng to attend university in Taiwan. Bunleng received a 50% scholarship from the university and 50% from ISF. Another student, Thida began university in November 2018 and is currently studying International Relations and hopes to work with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and representing her country in the future.

One of our biggest challenges is keeping our students in school. All are living in extreme poverty and earning money to support their families often means missing out on education. Our teachers and social workers regularly meet with the students’ parents to encourage regular attendance. By increasing parental involvement in education, we aim to enhance student achievement and induce parents to spend more time assisting their children and monitoring their school work. We hope that this will help improve students’ test scores as well as their attitudes and behavior towards education.

Through our multifaceted approach, we strive to keep our students in school for as long as possible as well as giving them necessary skills to succeed in finding gainful employment when they leave school.

One of our students, Leng Vatanak*, joined ISF’s Education Programme four years ago when his family relocated from Battambang Province to Phnom Penh. Up until that point, Vatanak had received very little education and entered ISF in grade 2 at ten years of age. Now, Vatanak is studying in grade 7 in state school and wishes not only to complete his high school education but to also pursue a university education.

Vatanak’s favourite subjects include English and ICT and he attends extra classes in both at ISF. Vatanak describes his English classes as interactive and fun and he appreciates his teacher’s methods of introducing games and questions to provoke discussions and critical thinking rather than relying on rote learning to deliver lessons.

Learning English is very important to Vatanak as he believes it will give him more choices when it comes to landing a job in the future. In addition to improving his career options, Vatanak also enjoys learning English because it allows him to have meaningful conversations with foreigners.

In his ICT classes, Vatanak has learned how to type in Khmer and English, how to use Microsoft Office and how to set-up an email account. Delighted with all of the skills he is developing, Vatanak aspires to be a manager or leader of a company when he has finished his education.

Thank you for supporting our work and helping us make a difference one child at a time.

With kind regards,

The ISF team


*Names of children under 18 years old have been changed.

Vatanak, ISF state school student
Vatanak, ISF state school student
Free healthcare at ISF
Free healthcare at ISF
ISF catch-up student
ISF catch-up student


Jan 11, 2019

2018: Year in Review

Dear friends of ISF,

We did it! With your help, we raised $16,828 through our project “Give Disadvantaged Cambodian Children an Education”, exceeding our target of $16,000. On behalf of all of us at ISF, thank you for making this possible. We would like to extend a special thank you to our recurring donors who continue to support ISF and help us make a long lasting impact in the lives of almost 700 Cambodian children marginalised by extreme poverty. Your monthly donation will be automatically transferred to our newest project "Spread the Joy of Education in Cambodia". 

We would love for all our donors to stay connected with us. The most sustainable way to support ISF's children is by setting up a recurring monthly donation to our project “Spread the Joy of Education”. In a country, where 95% of youth don't finish secondary school, your monthly donation to our Education Programme can change a life. Your recurring online donation is secure and flexible. You choose the amount you wish to give each month and you can change, or cancel, your pledge at any time. Sign up now and start making a long lasting impact in Cambodia. 

You can also continue to support our work by making a one-off donations to our newest project. Your donation goes a long way to helping us provide children marginalized by extreme poverty with the opportunity to access quality education, healthcare and sport. We would love to stay in touch and keep you up to date with our work, if you haven't already, please sign up to our monthy newsletter

As we start the new calendar year, we’re reflecting on the year of achievements we had in 2018 - and looking forward to what 2019 will bring.

2018 was a successful and exciting year for all of us at ISF. We’ve received international recognition in the form of awards and shortlists for our Football Programme and we welcomed 80 new students into our Catch-up Education Programme and saw a further 80 students graduate the programme and progress to state school. We’re proud to now partner with over 60 NGOs, schools and community organisations and to be part of a growing network that values the importance of education, healthcare and sport in creating positive change in society.

Our achievements this year:

  • Catch-up Education Programme: The new academic year started in November 2018 and 218 students, 48% of whom are female, are currently catching up on missed education at our two centres. With 86% of catch-up students progressing to state school last year, we’re confident our latest cohort of students will pass with flying colours. 
  • State School Support: Children who graduate from our Catch-up Education Programme have attained the necessary grade for their age to enable them to enter state school. In 2018, we supported 323 students to go to state school and provided them with uniforms, school materials, breakfast and lunch, and monthly food parcels for their families. In addition to this, state school students continue to have access to all of ISF’s projects, including English and Information and Communications Technology (ICT) lessons, extra-curricular activities, employment training and vocational support.
  • Healthcare and nutrition: On average, we distributed almost 600 food parcels per month to the families of our students. We also provided two school meals a day, six days a week and offered free healthcare to all our students.
  • University Support: In 2018, we supported past student Bungleng to attend university in Taiwan. Bungleng received a 50% scholarship from the university and 50% from ISF. Another student, Thida just began university in November 2018 and is currently studying International Relations and dreams of working with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and representing her country in the future.
  • Community Development: Last year, we worked closely with community and village leaders to make sure our education centres do not exist in a vacuum, but serve to lift up the wider community. We ran adult literacy classes, community and mobile libraries, sewing classes as well as hygiene and health education and support.
  • Inclusivity in Sport: In our commitment to developing an inclusive Football Programme, we continued to train our coaches on how to coach players of varying abilities and held tournaments and events for players who are blind/visually impaired, deaf/hearing impaired, wheelchair users, intellectually disabled and those living with HIV.
  • AIA-ISF Youth League: We celebrated the close of a very successfull youth league in June 2018 which saw approximately 1,300 players compete over the course of six months. Many thanks to our partners AIA Cambodia who are helping us to promote healthier lifestyles among our players and community.
  • Beyond Sport Shortlist: We were thrilled to be shortlisted for Beyond Sport's Sport for Health and Well-being Award 2018. Selected from over 400 applications, from 100+ countries and covering 50+ sports, the shortlist of 35 organisations recognised innovative work creating positive social impact in communities around the world through sport. Our very own past-student and coach Nara was also shortlisted for an award – the Courageous Use of Sport Award 2018 supported by WWE.
  • Dream Asia Award: Last year, we took home the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Dream Asia Award  2018 in the NGO category in recognition of promoting and advancing the power of football to create positive social change in Asian society.
  • Representing Cambodia Abroad: We were honoured to send not one but two Cambodian delegations of players to events running alongside the FIFA World Cup in Moscow, Russia. The first delegation participated in the 6th Gazprom Football for Friendship Championship and the second delegation in the 2018 Football For Hope Festival. Eight of our players and two coaches also traveled to Bulgaria in August to compete in the 2018 SATUC Cup in Sofia.

Thank you for making 2018 such a memorable and impactful year. We hope you’ll join us in 2019 in making a difference, one child at a time, through education, healthcare and sport.


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