GLEF is planning back-to-back school building projects for the first time! The groundbreaking ceremony forPhoum Bourn Svay Klaing Elementary School in Kampong Cham Province, Cambodia took place Jan. 15, 2014. Construction of Soeur Village Elementary School is slated for 2015. This is an exciting step for GLEF and our supporters.
“Everyone was happy to hear they’d have a new school soon” reported Sokhom Tauch, Project Lead for Svay Klaing School.
The Svay Klaing community, located near the Mekong River, saw water levels rise and flood the school and surrounding area during the monsoon in September 2013. The villagers requested a new school that withstands flooding in order to provide a safe and consistent space for learning.
Rebuilding the school is a personal mission of Sokhom’s. He served in the Navy, and happened to be on a ship when the Khmer Rouge takeover began. He unexpectedly fled to the U.S. and worked hard to acclimate to a new life. He is now Executive Director of the Immigrant & Refugee Community of Oregon. He’s independently raised funds for the school.
Soeur Village Elementary School has 1,013 students with class sizes up to 50 children. GLEF plans to construct a new building, replacing a 56-year-old, dilapidated building.
“When we build this school, it will help a lot of the children and families” said Chhunny Sok, Project Lead for Soeur School. She too is a refugee and also a golden leaf — a survivor of the Khmer Rouge genocide, with a personal mission to give back to her home town and country.
Chhunny’s father, Sok Prang, was a teacher. During the genocide, he was forced to stop teaching. Many of his fellow teachers were killed; he managed to survive and maintain his passion.
“Education was one of the most important things to my father” said Chhunny. Sok Prang passed away in 2005. He wanted his children to follow in his legacy of teaching, and though Chhunny is not a teacher, she knows that giving back in this way will be significant for many. “I know my father is not here to see his dream school, but I know he is watching us from above with a big, happy smile.”