Update: Thanks to GLEF donors and supporters, a full-furnished three-room school building was completed in 2015 for Soeur Village Elementary School. The project replaced the worn, wooden building pictured above. To see completed GLEF school building projects, visit our “Projects” menu.
Soeur Village Elementary School is tucked away in a village in the Mongkul Borey District. Although the community is poor, the atmosphere is always welcoming and beautiful. The people are kind and warm; their souls are always smiling. The landscape, although barren, is still comfortingly beautiful.
Soeur Primary School’s original building (pictured above) was built in 1958. Cambodian-American Community of Oregon’s (CACO) Chhunny Sok’s father Sok Prang, was a teacher there during those times. Chhunny is a founding member at GLEF and also one of our most dedicated volunteers.
During the Khmer Rouge Regime, Sok Prang endured a multitude of hardships because he was a teacher. No one in the regime wanted to risk having people around that would test their intelligence. These were the times where you could be killed for wearing glasses, because glasses were seen as a sign of intelligence. The war tried stripping Sok Prang of his compassion for teaching and educating, but he never lost heart on hanging on to hope.
Education was very important to Sok Prang, but family was number one. During the war, every moment was spent worrying about what would happen to his loved ones as an educated man. All of their lives were on the line. One mistake could end anyone’s life. He had to give up his passion for teaching to protect his family.
When the war ended, he came back to Soeur and witnessed the loss of his fellow village teachers — most of them had been killed or were missing. His love of teaching and care for the community drove him back into teaching. He finally retired after many additional years of teaching after the war. The Khmer Rouge unsuccessfully tried to break and strip him of all humanity, but they could not take away his heart.
Sok Prang was an amazing individual and sadly passed away in 2005.
Currently the principal and many of the teachers and faculty can be counted among his students. He always hoped one of his children would be a teacher; to carry on the tradition and love of education. None of his children became teachers, but his daughters and granddaughters hope and dream has been to build a school to provide for the communities future. GLEF is helping this dream come true, and one of his grandchildren is on her way to a teaching degree.
The school as it stands now serves over 1,065 students from preschool to the 6th grade, 31 teachers and faculty, and a few unwanted grazing cows and stray dogs and cats. The school now consists of two buildings with 12 classrooms. The structure of the buildings is old, worn down and not structurally safe.
The request called for a new school building and playground.
This community deserves a better place to learn and develop. They deserve hope, and a chance. The faces here are ones that will never be forgotten.
In the spring of 2014, Kila Ung met Soeur School’s request for a playground. For her Eighth Grade Project, Kila raised enough funds to build the school a basketball court. GLEF raised funds for a new building for Soeur School at “A Magical Night in Cambodia” Sat. Aug. 2, 2014.
Thank you to all the people here and in Cambodia who are helping to make Sok Prang’s dream come true, along with the community and children of Soeur Village.
If you would like to make a tax-deductible donation for on-going support for Soeur Village Elementary School (please indicate this school in a memo or note), you may securely donate online at the button to the right (top) or you may send a check to:
Golden Leaf Education Foundation
3439 NE Sandy Blvd. #412
Portland, OR 97232
or donate with paypal below:
*Soeur Village School was chosen by the Project Review Committee, comprised of GLEF members who have no personal stake in any of the schools. Chhunny Sok abstained during this school’s voting process.