Route Out of Poverty for Cambodian Children

by The Sharing Foundation
Dr. Hendrie & Elephant speak with the local man in charge.
Dr. Hendrie & Elephant speak with the local man in charge.

Bill Brower is a Field Program Officer with GlobalGiving who is visiting our projects throughout Southeast Asia. On January 20, he visited the projects at Roteang. This education project on GlobalGiving is fully funded, but The Sharing Foundation hopes to post another project soon. (Click here to hear Dr. Hendrie describe it:

Dr. Nancy Hendrie (Founder) and Chan Kim Leng (Country Director) have an unquestionable commitment to honesty and getting things done “right”. When I asked about the origins of this project, Dr. Hendrie said they’d asked the chief of the village, “What’s your community’s biggest need?” He replied, “The guys out back”, referring to men on the outskirts of the village who drink too much and domestically abuse their wives. The Sharing Foundation said they could arrange for jobs for them on their farm, but only if they sent their children to their literacy school.

For 35 of the poorest families in the village who participate, it’s a real win-win. The family gets $2/day income and some produce from the fields; the kids get to finally go to school and try to catch up with their peers. The fathers also get training in how to manage a family, the importance of education for kids and information about the problems associated with drinking and domestic violence.

A sure sign of effectiveness: Dr. Hendrie said the principal of the local public school asked if he could send some of his students who were struggling a bit to The Sharing Foundation school since students seemed to learn faster there. As you can see in the pictures, the class rooms are basic but sufficient for holding two lessons. The kids seemed to be engaged in their lessons—even when we were around having a look.

Keep a look-out for the Sharing Foundation’s vaccination project on GlobalGiving soon!

The two classrooms.
The two classrooms.
The adjacent fields where some of the parents work.
The adjacent fields where some of the parents work.


This is Clare Rutz reporting from Phnom Penh in Cambodia.

I received a phone call an hour before my scheduled visit at The Sharing Foundation in Phnom Penh. The director of the project wanted to confirm that I had a car with a roof to get me there because the rainy season decided to live up to its name and dump water on the entire city. I explained that I was actually planning on just climbing on the back of a motorbike in about five minutes. He recommended my visit for another day and I thanked him for his intentions on keeping me dry. Forty-five minutes later I arrived looking as if I had just taken a swim. The rain has never really bothered me, and I was especially looking forward to this visit.

The Sharing Foundation can be found in a small village that acted as a nice break from the capital of Cambodia. Dirt roads that were lined with houses next to the water and fishing gear, motorbikes, and families shielding themselves from the rain were the main attractions in this simple town. When I pulled up to the orphanage thirty little children greeted me at the entrance. It was the hour for reading, but I was too much of a distraction for any real work to get done. There are 74 children residing at the orphanage, many of which are living with HIV, but smiling nonetheless. The children were obviously well loved and looked after with 21 nannies on the premises. All the children go to school and are encouraged to continue their education for as long as possible or necessary. This year The Sharing Foundation supports 38 university students, with their first 7 graduating. After touring the facilities of the orphanage, which included a doctor’s office and playground, I returned back to the reading children. Their curious eyes and big smiles would encourage anyone to stay awhile to play, but I had to move on. This was only a fraction of what The Sharing Foundation did.

The next stop was the sewing project, which was an opportunity for women to train and work in garment manufacturing. I climbed the stairs to what looked like an ordinary house to a room filled with diligently working women. They smiled widely as I entered and were more than happy to show off the work they were doing at the time. They explained to me that now when they apply for a job at a factory they will be paid a higher salary than normal because they have training. I thanked the women for their hospitality and we jumped back into the jeep to visit the agricultural project.

The rain was still coming down and the road to the fields was thick with wet mud. We drove carefully to the workers who were still working hard despite the pelting rain. The program allows the poorer families of the village to come and work in the fields for a consistent salary if they agree to send their children to school. Parents often keep their children from school in order for them to work or help around the household. Too often the importance of education is just not understood, but with the help of this project the benefits of children attending school is explained and enrollment is required.

The projects I visited were only three of the sixteen The Sharing Foundation is comprised of, but the work that was unseen should be mentioned. The other projects support pregnant women with HIV/AIDS, university students, children at the state run orphanage, and there is also an English program for all the children in the village. It would be enlightening to see the village without the help of The Sharing Foundation. Many families are moving out of poverty because of this tiny non-profit tucked away in this small community. I truly hope that in ten years I will return back to this same village and meet the adults who had been educated by The Sharing Foundation. The village will have inevitably changed, and because of the projects I visited and GlobalGiving donors, I believe it will be for the better.

When asked what she would tell her friends about this project, Clare said: "Great: They are making a difference."

Kam Samay
Kam Samay

All of us involved with The Sharing Foundation were totally amazed and thrilled by the generosity of so many donors who contributed to this project and helped us achieve first place in the America’s Giving Challenge. THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU!!! With your support, we have fully funded these programs for the next year. Updated information on the evolution of these programs and other TSF initiatives can be found on our website at

Below are profiles of additional Cambodian students who participate in the Khmer literacy and English language programs. Thanks to donors like you, they now have the opportunity to obtain language skills that will help them access further education and better jobs. Your contributions really matter! We are extremely grateful for your support.

1. Profiles of Two Students in TSF’s Khmer Literacy Program,

Sok So, age 12, has been in TSF’s Khmer literacy school for three years and really enjoys school. She can now read, write, and spell. She loves the copy books and pencils provided by the school. So’s mother and father are farmers who cannot read or write. She is the fifth of eight children in her family. She now also attends the Roteang village school in the afternoon, in grade 4. She thinks she will grow up to be a farmer, but she wants to go to school “for a long time.”

Kam Samay, age 10, has also been studying at the Khmer literacy school for three years, and can now read and write fairly well. He likes his teacher, and enjoys the lessons with all the other children. Samay’s father died of cancer two years ago, and his mother died last year after a seizure. The family’s small stilt house burned down after a lamp tipped over; TSF rebuilt it for them. Samay and his six siblings have since been separated. Samay now lives in the little house on the farm with his brother, age 18, and one sister, age 11, who also attends the literacy school.

2. Profiles of Student in TSF’s English Language Program Ly Sophea, age 16, speaks English incredibly well, and seeks out any foreigner who appears in the village to practice her skills. She has studied in the TSF English school nearly every day for the last five years, and with TSF sponsorship, now attends 10th grade in the local public high school. She wants badly to go to University. Attending to studies is her highest priority, so she can pass the National High School Graduation Exam at the end of grade 12. She wants to be an interpreter when she completes her education.

Her parents had only rudimentary education in the first years of grammar school, but support her ambition. They are farmers, growing mangoes, bananas, and some vegetables which they sell in the local Koki market. Sophea says that, without TSF, she could never have gone past grade 6, or studied English. “Now I can hope to have a good job and support my parents. “

Sok So
Sok So
Chheng Srey Mom & Hun Srey Neath, Khmer Literacy School students
Chheng Srey Mom & Hun Srey Neath, Khmer Literacy School students

KHMER LITERACY SCHOOL UPDATE A very proud moment arrived in October for Chheng Srey Mom and Hun Srey Neath, as well as for The Sharing Foundation and our Khmer Literacy School! Children of families in our farming cooperative project, they initially attended the literacy school out on the edge of the farm fields. They progressed to the public village school, then to the TSF English language school, and now they are ready for high school! This is the first time Khmer Literacy School students have progressed to this point, and it is a tribute to their families, too, that they are willing to give up the girls’ labor as farmers so they can pursue their educations.

Chheng Srey Mom, 16, whose parents stopped school in grades 3 and 7, and whose two grown brothers also stopped in grammar school, has completed grade 8. She first went to the Literacy school five years ago, then joined the public school at the 4th grade level, and also began after-school English classes with TSF. Srey Mom wants to be a teacher; her favorite subject is Khmer. At her interview, she wrote she “wants to work hard for high education, and when I have good knowledge, I can help my community.”

Hun Srey Neath, 17, has three siblings, all of whom left school in early grades; her father finished 7th grade, her mother, 6th. Srey Neath would like to be a doctor “to help children and give them advice.”

Both girls are now eligible for TSF’s High School sponsorship program. (See link to TSF's Winter 2007 newsletter for additional detail.)

Additional note: TSF's Khmer Literacy School was closed for several days this fall due to flooding during the heavy rainy season. See school photo.

PROFILE OF STUDENT IN TSF'S ENGLISH LANGUAGE PROGRAM Lun Vandy is an 11th grade student from Roteang Village who attends the Jayavarman VII High School. Her father is dead and her mother works for The Sharing Foundation’s cooperative farm project. Vandy has three older sisters and an older brother, all of whom quit school before grade 8. She also has a younger brother currently in grade 8.

Vandy has been studying English in the Foundation’s English language program for approximately three years. She was unable to afford any of the private classes at her high school, in which much of the real learning takes place, until she was sponsored by The Sharing Foundation one year ago. TSF’s sponsorship allows her to attend smaller high school classes which provide more individual attention. Vandy never misses her classes.

In addition, Vandy is currently enrolled in The Sharing Foundation’s computer school, where six students are rotated in, every six weeks. The students learn general use of Windows, basic word processing, and basic spreadsheets. The school has capacity to demonstrate how the internet works, but students do not yet have regular access.

Vandy would like one day to be an English teacher “because I can share my knowledge and experience with young Cambodians to develop the country.”

Flooded Khmer Literacy School, fall 2007
Flooded Khmer Literacy School, fall 2007
Lun Vandy (pink shirt), English language student, with her famil
Lun Vandy (pink shirt), English language student, with her famil


The Sharing Foundation's July 2007 update features profiles of two students in the English Language program: Noun Sopheap, and Cheng Boran. Additional profiles will be posted in August and September.


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Organization Information

The Sharing Foundation

Location: Concord, MA - USA
Website: http:/​/​
Project Leader:
Lisa Hicks
Board member
Concord, MA United States

Funded Project!

Thanks to 1,858 donors like you, a total of $53,373 was raised for this project on GlobalGiving. Combined with other sources of funding, this project raised enough money to fund the outlined activities and is no longer accepting donations.

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