Letter from GLEF President


What a busy year this has been at Golden Leaf Education Foundation. And for some of us, it has been a very lucky year. It started with the grand opening of our second school build at Koh Broteal. Most don’t know that this site is NOT a holy place — it was a death camp under the Khmer Rouge. Today, these children and their families are living now, in overwhelming poverty.

The students are so eager to learn. The students were all dressed in their uniforms; the parents and family were beaming with joy. This project has given them hope.

Just down the road from the new school, power lines were being laid — bring electricity to the village for the first time. When we build a school in such remote areas, the local officials understand the significance of the school, and bring new service to the village.

A few days after, GLEF celebrated the groundbreaking at our third school, Svay Klaing. These kids are incredible. I wanted to take a picture with this tiny, little student, and then, within a few moments, there was a throng of young people around me. They all wanted to join the fun. And now too, they have a new school.

WE are the lucky ones — like hitting the lottery, except money can never fill you as much as helping kids who truly want to get an education.

With a little bit of time and a little bit of money, GLEF is helping to change the lives of thousands of people. If you would like to participate in GLEF’s endeavors, we are an email or a phone call away.


David Simas
GLEF President

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Reminiscing GLEF’s Fifth Annual “A Magical Night in Cambodia”

GLEF_MNIC-2014_RecapThanks to our wonderful sponsors, donors, supporters and volunteers who contributed to the success of this year’s Magical Night in Cambodia (MNIC). Because of so many generous people, MNIC raised $55,000 for building schools and other educational enhancements in rural Cambodia.

During the event, local Cambodian chefs from Ruby Thai served our guests Cambodian Cuisine, while attendees enjoyed local wines, a large silent auction and a market filled with fine, silk dresses, purses, fabric and more — all from Cambodia. Afterward, Auctioneer Brian Bice entertained all during the oral auction, where top bidders walked away with local vacation getaways, group dinners and even a chance to be on “Good Day Oregon.”

Following the auction, GLEF Performance Director Bonnearin Sin and fellow Cambodian classic dancers enchanted the crowd with “Kolap Phnom Penh: Rose of Phnom Penh.” (Originally choreographed by Princess Norodom Bopha Devi, music and lyrics by late King Father Norodom Sihanouk.) It was the first time this dance was performed in Oregon, and it showcased incredible talent. To wrap up the performances, the Cambodian Student Associations of Portland State University and Oregon State University performed the beloved “Coconut Shell Dance”.

MNIC was also a time of recognition, with GLEF awarding both the Interact Club of Sherwood and freshman student Kila Ung with the 2014 Outstanding Award for their generous and essential contributions. The Interact Club of Sherwood raised $2,000 for GLEF from their events this past school year, and Kila Ung, raised $3,550 from her eighth grade project to build a basketball court at Soeur School (completed spring 2014). Both recipients were present to receive their awards, noting “GLEF is not only changing lives of students in Cambodia, but also students here.”

The success of MNIC will allow us to keep changing lives and working toward our mission of fostering peace and goodwill through renovating existing schools, building new schools, and providing educational support.

“Being a part of GLEF, I feel lucky. Kind of like hitting the lottery…It seems for a little bit of time…and a little bit of money…you can change the lives of thousands of people,” said President Dave Simas, reflecting on a photo of a large group of Svay Klaing  (GLEF’s current school building project) students that spontaneously gathered around him early this year.

We invite you to follow our progress and stay up to date on future events and happy highlights on our Facebook page . Photos by volunteers Bette Lee and Tyler Clifton, as well as many more guest contributors.

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5th Annual “A Magical Night in Cambodia” Aug 2, 2014

GLEF_MNIC-2014_Save-Date2GLEF is looking forward to celebrating its fifth annual gala benefit, “A Magical Night in Cambodia.” Our goal is to raise enough funds to construct a new school building at Soeur Village School.

New Location: Jesuit High School in Portland, Oregon
When: Sat. Aug. 2, 2014
Doors Open: 4:30 p.m.
Parking: Please use lot off of SW Beaverton/Hillsdale Hwy. This lot is right by the high school’s football field, Cronin Field.

Featuring Traditional Cambodian Food & Dance and much more!

Local Wines • Silent Auction • Cambodian Market Place • Live Auction

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Kids Helping Kids

GLEF_Kilas-Project_2014Kila Ung, an eighth grade student and daughter of GLEF Founder, Kilong Ung, partnered with GLEF to build a basketball court for students in Cambodia. Kila recognized the potential these courts provide, and chose to focus her school-year project toward raising funds for one. Congratulations to Kila for reaching her goal! The court construction began at Soeur School early this year and is now being enjoyed by the Soeur School students. Check out GLEF on Facebook for more photos of this project.

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GLEF’s Newest School Opens!


Our second school, Koh Broteal Elementary in Pursat Province, Cambodia, opened its new doors on Oct. 2, 2013. The new, five-classroom building is where over 140 first-fourth grade students learn. The student body is expected to increase in the near future, as this is now the closest school for many children in this rural area.

For Project Lead Mrs. Bonneary Simas and her mother, Ms. Eng Lean Ly, the completion is very personal. Bonneary feels she “was spared to help build the Koh Broteal School.” Both Bonneary and her mother were enslaved in a camp during the Khmer Rouge Genocide, not far from where the new school stands. During her visit earlier this year, Bonneary was able to pay homage to those who suffered at the hands of the Khmer Rouge and even had the opportunity to personally thank the other woman who saved her life — a Buddhist nun who still lives in Cambodia.

This is GLEF’s second school in Cambodia. The funds from our 2012 Annual Gala “A Magical Night in Cambodia” helped kick-start construction. Along with providing the building, we partnered with the Rotary Club of Edmonton West in Canada who donated water projects (well, biofilters, rooftop collection, dugout), school support and supplies, preschool and community coordination. GLEF also partnered with Rotary Club of Pursat in Cambodia to oversee the project’s completion. Our work wouldn’t be possible without these key partners across the world.

“The spirit of Koh Broteal is always with me.” reflected Bonneary.

A grand opening dedication ceremony took place on Jan. 14, 2014. Please visit GLEF’s Facebook page for photos from this special day.

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Gala Benefit = GLEF’s Third School!


We were honored to have former U.S. Ambassador to the U.N., author of the memoir “Golden Bones”and Khmer Rouge Genocide Survivor Mr. Sichan Siv give our keynote speech, sharing thoughts about the significance of our work.

GLEF partners were also present, including the Cambodia Project Lead of the Rotary Club of Edmonton West in Canada, Darryll White. “The 2013 Magical Night in Cambodia fundraiser in Portland was a fitting end to the first year of a long-term partnership.” said Darryll (above photo) whose Rotary Club donated to water projects (well, biofilters, rooftop collection, dugout), school support and supplies, preschool and community coordination to the Koh Broteal Elementary School.

GLEF honored the students of Valley Catholic Elementary, Sherwood High School Interact Club and Wilson High School Interact Club with the 2013 GLEF Outstanding Service Award. Each school (all in Oregon) held their own unique fundraisers and each raised approximately $1,000 for GLEF.

Guests were entertained by the Cambodian Dance Troupe of Oregon, who performed the classical dance, Robam Makhor and by Concert Rock Violinist Aaron Meyer. Delicious food was provided by Mekong Bistro, a local Cambodian restaurant. GLEF would like to thank all those who attended our event! For more pictures, check out GLEF’s Facebook page.

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Next School Buildings


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.”

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Buy a Book & Help Build a School

GLEF_Wordstock_Authors_2013Wordstock Book Fair 2013 is October 5-6, 2013 and GLEF will have a special table featuring various award-winning authors who each detail their personal stories of surviving the Khmer Rouge Genocide. Each author will graciously donate half their proceeds of all sales at Wordstock to the Golden Leaf Education Foundation. We hope to see you out there!

Featured Authors

Chanrithy Him When Broken Glass Floats: Growing Up Under the Khmer Rouge

Winner of the Oregon Book Award and Finalist for the Kiriyama Pacific Rim Book Prize, Him’s harrowing story gives readers a first-hand account of the Khmer Rouge Genocide. She is a public speaker, Cambodian classical dancer, writer and aspiring screenwriter. Her accolades include: Finalist for the 2001 Pen USA West Literary Award; nominee for the 2000 Barnes & Noble Discover Great New Writers Book Award; two-time winner of the Oregon Literary Fellowship, awarded by the Literary Arts, Inc. Her goal is to leave readers informed and empowered by her story of survival.

Loung Ung First They Killed My Father: A Daughter of Cambodia Remembers; Lucky Child; Lulu in the Sky

Loung Ung, an author, lecturer and activist, wrote three books in the past 13 years that feature her story. She is a national bestseller and recipient of the 2001 Asian/Pacific American Librarians’ Association award for “Excellence in Adult Non-fiction Literature.” Ung has made over 30 trips back to Cambodia. As an author, lecturer, and activist, she has dedicated 20 years to promoting equality, human rights, and justice in her native land and worldwide.

Kilong Ung Golden Leaf: A Khmer Rouge Genocide Survivor

Founder of the Golden Leaf Education Foundation Kilong Ung will be selling the memoir that inspired the creation of the Golden Leaf Education Foundation. Ung was a 2010 Wordstock Author, and has received a number of recognitions, including being named Exceptional American by The Association of The United States Army and receiving the Commerce/Cleveland High School Distinguished Alumni Award, whose list of recipients has included Nike Founder Phil Knight and Pulitzer Prize Winner Anne Reifenberg. Ung is also a Royal Rosarian in Portland, Oregon, a Rotarian and travels the country representing the City of Roses.

GLEF thanks these golden leaf authors for their generosity and support.

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Âng School Water Tanks & Basketball Court


The first GLEF school, Âng School in Battambang, Cambodia is going on its second year and students and staff are fully enjoying it. The village water tanks, which were graciously donated by the Rotary Club of Tualatin (Oregon, USA), have also been installed and are now ready for use in the upcoming dry season.

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GLEF gives special thanks to its Construction Chair, Mony Mao and GLEF Ambassador Mardine Mao for visiting the Âng School in January 2013 to meet with its principal and to see the water tanks’ installation, as well as to the Rotary Club of Tualatin.

After recent discussions, the GLEF Board decided to support a new addition to the school: a basketball court. The original request was for some sort of a play ground or play structure, so that students would be inclined to stay at school during the week or on non-school days, creating a community of fun and learning, both inside and outside of the classroom.

The new concrete court is not only being used to pass the ball and shoot hoops, but also for traditional Cambodian games like jump rope, hopscotch and Moeuk to name a few. It has not only become a gathering place during recess, but on the weekends too.

GLEF_Ang School_Basketball Court_7.13_03288

This project was made possible by: Colm Power, Rotary Club of Tualatin, Matine & Vanna Morb, Honor Chanly, Carla C. Bock, In memory of Rasmey Nhek (by his sister Sokunthveary Shah) and anonymous donors. GLEF thanks these donors for this educational enhancement to The Âng School.

The school’s basketball court was completed in April 2013.

Photos © 2013 Mony and Mardine Mao.

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Zumba Benefit Party Sat July 27, 2013

GLEF_Zumba_7.27.13_72ppiRegister online today for Golden Leaf Education Foundation’s (GLEF) Zumba Benefit Party! All those that register prior to event day will be entered in a drawing to win 2 free tickets to GLEF’s A Magical Night in Cambodia taking place Aug 3, 2013!*

Zumba Benefit Party tickets are $10 each. The event will take place on Saturday, July 27, 2013 from 3:00 to 4:30 p.m. at Mt. Scott Community Center in Portland, Oregon. All ages are welcome to attend this unique fundraising event. Zumba is not limited to fitness fans — no dance experience is necessary!

This fun benefit will be featuring Hot Hula Fitness ® lead by Mercedes Brehmer Bieker, the first instructor in Oregon licensed to teach this format!

What is Zumba? Come find out what everyone is talking about! The Zumba ® program is an easy-to-follow, Latin-inspired, exhilarating, effective, calorie-burning dance fitness-party™! Zumba is for all ages, body shapes and sizes.

What is Hot Hula Fitness ®? HOT HULA fitness® is a total body workout inspired by Pacific Islands dances set to the sounds of Polynesian drum beats fused with Reggae music.

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GLEF welcomes and is most grateful to these talented instructors: Mercedes Brehmer Bieker, who teaches Zumba and Hot Hula at PCC (Cascade Campus) and PulsePDX; Jessica Ideson, who teaches group fitness classes with LA Fitness and Maki Schwartz who teaches at teaches Zumba at CLUB BLUE Wellness Center and 24 Hour Fitness. Along with GLEF’s Zumba Benefit Party, these instructors have also donated dozens of hours for other local fund-raising events. Other local Zumba instructors volunteering their time at this event are: Maria Martell Mercado, Lydia Hernandez, Noriko Cummins, Haruno Boyce, Tomomi Ishiyama, Rosy Peou and Sarah Miller.

Doors open at 2:30 p.m. and the fun goes from 3:00-4:30 p.m. Children are welcome, but must have a parent or guardian with them at all times. (No child care will be provided. Event most enjoyed by ages 6 and up.)

Register online to secure your spot at the Zumba Benefit Party. Ticket proceeds from this fun-filled fitness party go toward building elementary schools in Cambodia. Event updates at Golden Leaf Education Foundation’s Facebook page.

GLEF’s mission is to empower humanity by enhancing educational opportunities internationally, in memory of genocide victims and in honor of survivors, “golden leaves.” Founded in 2010 by local author Kilong Ung and friends, GLEF has already completed its first school in Cambodia that accommodates over 400 children. Ticket proceeds from GLEF’s Zumba Benefit Party will go toward building two more planned schools in Cambodia. GLEF is 100% volunteer ran. For more GLEF Zumba Benefit Party information, call 503-208-5323 (LEAF) or email GLEF at Info@GoldenLeafSchools.org.

* This promotion is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with, Facebook.
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