Cambodia - Programme Reports 

August 2013 – GetInvolved! Program Update

Heather Pettican, AAI's GetInvolved! Program Coordinator recently visited local partner Child Hope Organisation (CHO) in Battambang, Cambodia. As Program Coordinator Heather recruits, prepares and supports AAI volunteers whilst they are in the field.

CHO was founded in response to a need to provide educational activities to the most vulnerable children through both formal and non-formal classes in a range of subjects including basic Khmer and English literacy, morality, sports, art/drawing, healthcare, computer, vocational skills training and life skills classes. CHO also promotes child rights awareness, parenting practice and job training support to those children and families who live in Battambang and the neighbouring Pailin Province in Cambodia.

AAI has partnered with CHO to establish an Education Program in Battambang and provides  volunteers who can teach English and life skills in CHO affiliated schools on a rotation basis. This year, AAI has had five volunteers from Australia undertake a placement at CHO as part of the AAI GetInvolved! Education Program.

Below is an update from Heather's recent visit:

After two weeks visiting AAI's programs on the Thai-Burma border, I boarded a plane and headed to Cambodia. The main purpose of my trip was to visit AAI's partner organisations, to review our programs and partnerships over the last 12 months and to discuss opportunities and to develop a plan of action for going forward.

I arrived in Battambang to visit Child Hope Organisation (CHO), one of AAI's partner organisations supported as part of the AAI GetInvolved! Program. I soon met with  Socheath, the CHO Director, who showed me their new initiative; an online Skype-based ‘Teaching English as Foreign Language’ (TEFL) Program engaging volunteers from Hong Kong and America. The program was established to improve English language skills through online classes and tutoring.     

I was then thrown head first into life at the centre and held English classes for the around 400 children. My classes varied from teaching very basic English words, intermediate English focused on grammar and the pronunciation of the vowels to higher level English where I was quizzed about my work and personal life.

Each morning would start with an assembly and a sing song. This was a highlight of my day - watching and listening to the songs I would have sung in my own childhood years reiterated in a different continent.

I also particularly enjoyed the time spent outside of school with the students. Far away from the technological culture of the modern era, I watched and joined in with the fun and games outside of the classroom. Balls were made from discarded elastic bands, skipping ropes made from old pieces of rope, and simple story books were treasured. The resourcefulness of the children made me reminisce about my Grandma telling me stories of the ‘good old days’ where ‘children were children’ and enjoyed life rather than computer games and TV.

Another highlight was to hear and see the impact that previous AAI volunteers had had upon the children. Earlier in the year, AAI volunteers Simon and Lisa introduced weekly art classes at the Battambang Centre. They purchased supplies in coloured pencils, paper and bought a folder for each of the children. The children's names were stencilled on to the front of their folders which they then decorated. The children were so excited to show me the collection of pictures that they have been drawing over the last few months. Some of the students are very talented and it is clear that all of the children really enjoy these classes.

Art is not just good fun - research has shown the importance of art in a child development. It helps children to develop important life skills such as communication skills, problem-solving skills, social and emotional skills, fine motor skills and encourages self-expression and creativity. For these reasons I was really pleased to see these classes were still ongoing and were still being enjoyed (Thank you to Simon and Lisa for starting this fantastic initiative).

The days passed so quickly in Battambang and I was sad that I had to leave so soon. On my last day I was taken out by the teachers at CHO to a local Khmer restaurant. I had to put my trust in them to order on my behalf as there was no English translation and I was a bit wary about what I was eating (probably heightened as I am vegetarian and was not sure if this was lost in translation). However, the food was fantastic and it was lovely to spend some down time outside of the working environment and to get off the beaten track. I think the teachers also enjoyed the experience and I had the privilege of one of them taking over the entertainment to blast out a karaoke song.

During my visit I was fortunate enough to experience the traditional Cambodian friendliness and hospitality and learn a great deal about the local Province and Khmer culture.

AAI looks forward to continuing its support to both CHO and to making a difference to the education and literacy needs of the children in these communities.


January 2013 – GetInvolved Programme Update

“Alon and I have been here in Battambang volunteering at CHO for 3 weeks now. We are very happily part of the teaching team, and the children  have got used to having us around. I am not sure whether it is a good thing or a bad thing but they do seem to associate us with playing games! We have used stick on letters and numbers we brought with us from Australia to make a letters set for bingo and a numbers set. We have also run competitions to see which group can make the most english words out of the letters. The children have very readily incorporated twinkle twinkle little star into their extensive repertoire of songs as well as old mcdonald had a farm where the most identifiable bit is the EEIEEIOO!

On a more personal note we have been very impressed by the dedication of Socheath and the teachers to helping disadvantaged kids. They have a lovely relationship with the children who are very willing to come every day and learn english, hygeine, and about their rights in addition to their normal school time.

Battambang itself is a very easy place to live. People are very friendly, the choice of restaurants is terrific and we have loved the childrens circus here and riding everywhere on our bicycles even though the traffic is crazy! We are very grateful to AAI for offering us this wonderful volunteering opportunity”

December 2012 – GetInvolved Programme Update

AAI Director Marc Preston recently visited local partner Child Hope Organisation in Battambang to discuss further education programmes and to hear from Alon Kaiser and Lenora Lippmann who have volunteered as teachers at the CHO during December and January 2013 as a part of the AAI GetInvolved Programme.

In early December 2012, Alon and Lenora completed the AAI Introduction to Humanitarian Operations Course and then successfully applied to volunteer in Battambang for a month teaching English and life skills to nearly 400 children attending the CHO school. During their stay in Battambang, they have also been able to experience the traditional Cambodian friendliness and hospitality and learn a great deal about the local Province and Khmer culture..

During Marc’s visit to Battambang he took the opportunity to travel to the rural province of Pailin to check on the progress of the construction of a school in the village of Tom Nop which is being built by Save the Cambodian Children’s Fund Australia (SCCFA), a Melbourne based NGO with strong community links in both Pailin and Battambang. AAI has been providing project support and advice to SCFFA over the past two years, Marc was accompanied by SCCFA Chairperson Saruon Khuon as well as Alon and Lenora who were all warmly welcomed by Mr Tang Theara, the Director of Education & Youth Sport for the Pailin Province.

The construction of the school is well underway with completion expected in early February 2013. After completion, the school will be furnished by SCFFA and staffed by government teachers and members of the Tom Nop community. It is expected that the school will initially cater to Grade 1 & 2 children and then progressively expand to other grades over the ensuing months.

We were keep very well informed of the state of child education in Pailin Province by Mr Tang Theara who advised us that there are 14729 children attending 83 schools between Pre-School to Grade 12, split nearly 50% between girls and boys. The percentage of girls sharply declines at the secondary school level however, as they leave to join the workforce or support families. The Tom Knop community warmly welcomed the visit and were extremely excited about the prospect of a local school opening in their village, which will alleviate the long distances often traveled by local children to attend other schools in the District.

During the visit, the AAI and SCFFA team distributed exercise books and pencils to each of the children as well as providing a small donation of clothes and food which was very well received. AAI looks forward to continuing its support to both CHO and SCFFA in making a difference to the education and literacy needs of the children in these communities.



Progress report from Child Hope Organisation (CHO) on programmes supported by AAI

Child Hope Organization (CHO) is a non-governmental, non-religious, non-profit organization, established in 2008, and which was recognized by the Ministry of Interior, license number 1299SCN, on date 15th June 2009. CHO was founded in response to a need to provide educational activities to the most vulnerable children through providing formal and non- formal education in areas like basic Khmer and English literacy, morality, sports, art/drawing, healthcare, computer, vocational skills training and life skills classes. And CHO has been promoting child rights awareness, parenting practice and job training support to those children and families in Battambang and Pailin province of Cambodia.

Programs are directed at reducing hazardous child labor conditions and providing poor families with sustainable livelihoods through income generation, cultivation and education. Moreover, CHO's mission is developed from the major problem areas around schooling for children in rural areas in Cambodia. Many children are far away from school in their rural areas, and many children drop out of school based on many reasons. Furthermore, many parents keep their children from going to school because they are needed to work on the land for family income. This creates many basic problems for children beginning at a very young age and it is a cycle that CHO wishes to break through its work and projects. CHO raises the overall social conscience, especially with initially self-interested groups, thus laying the groundwork for future community actions. We strive to alleviate poverty amongst the poorest of the poor and disadvantaged communities through mobilizing the power of humanity and increasing their level of independence, by strengthening families’ economic status by providing agricultural, technical, and job training, through which  the quality of lives of the targeted populations are improved.

AAI has supported CHO during 2012 by providing capacity building initiatives as well as healthcare and education volunteers. A full report is available  HERE 

Emma Childs (RN) and Dr. Abarna Devapalasundaram from AAI supporting heathcare initiatives in Battambang & Pailin Districts

Volunteer Paul Gould with Phong Socheath from CHO

AAI Partners with Local Cambodian Grass Roots Organisation to Assist with Rural School for Underprivileged Children.

Access Aid International (AAI) prepares to launch its GetInvolved! program in Cambodia after a successful year in Mae Sot, Thailand. AAI's GetInvolved! Thailand program continues to deliver high quality programs in partnership with local NGO - Women with a Mission. The education program enables migrant school Hway Ka Loke to equip its students with the necessary English skills to succeed with their education and improve their employment prospects in the future. Through the education program children are not only equipped with language skills but also develop the confidence, skills and capacity to grow and flourish in all areas of their lives. 

In April 2011, AAI conducted a scoping mission to Cambodia and a team recently returned from Cambodia to finalize the GetInvolved! Cambodia program. AAI will be working in partnership with Child Hope Organisation (CHO), a local Cambodian NGO founded and run by Executive Director Phong Socheath. The organisation has founded two learning centres, one located in Pailin and the other in Battambang province, Cambodia. Children at the centre are provided a safe space to develop their English language skills as well as their computer skills, human rights knowledge and much more. 

AAI recognises the importance of capacity building and education and through its partnership with CHO, the program will be able to deliver high quality community based education that aligns with AAI's mission and values of sustainable outcomes. AAI understands that the value of education extends far beyond the classroom and through education health is improved and poverty is reduced. 

AAI has committed to provide volunteers to work at CHO's two schools located in Rattanak and Oh Trea village that support 450 school children from impoverished local families. In addition, AAI has committed to place medical professionals to provide primary health care and maternal and child health care to support the local medical authorities in these underserved areas.

AAI will be providing volunteers on a rotational basis in order to assist the children with English language classes. 

Children sing a welcome song.   AAI's Project Officer with CHO's CEO Phoung Socheath.


10 April 2011 -  AAI conducts Village Assessment in support of a Rural School Project in the remote Pailin Province of Cambodia 

Pailin  is a province at the northern edge of the Cardamom Mountains, in the west of Cambodia near the border of Thailand. This province is surrounded by Battambang Province, and was officially carved out of Battambang to become a separate administrative division after the surrender of the Ieng Sary faction of the Khmer Rouge in 1996. Pailin is known to much of the world for having long been a stronghold of the Khmer Rouge, remaining under their control long after they were defeated in 1979.

The Pailin Province is divided into the two Districts of 2401 Pailin and 2402 Sala Krau. Sala Krau is is subdivided into 4 Sangkats and 43 Kroms.According to the 1998 census of Cambodia, it had a population of 7,106.

  Sangkat (Communes)

 Krom (Villages)

      Sala Krau                                                   

 Spung, Veal, Tuol, Leav, Kuy, Ou Ressey Kroam, Kok Keo, Sre An Tak
  Stueng Trang                 

 Thnol Bat, Stoeng Trang, Phnum Krenh, Ou Kunthy Dova, Bay Sei, Phnom   Prial, Dei Saeit, Ou Doun Ta Kroam, Ou Don Ta Loeu, Prey Chun  Teas, Pteas Sboav, Koan Dam Rei, Toul Khos, Anlong Rak Sa, Tom Nob, Dei Sa Thmor

  Stueng Kach              

 Kngak, Ta Ngen Kraom, Ou Beng, Bos S'am, Doung, Stueng Kach, Boeng Prolit, Sla, Rathkraoh Chheh, Tuek Chenh, Ou Ro El, Psar Prum, Ou Chheu Kram

  Ou Andoung  

 Thnal Totueng, Koun Phnum, Thnal Kaeng, Boeng Trakuon, O Andoang,     Ou Ressey Loeu

AAI has recently partnered with the Australian NGO, Save the Cambodian Children’s Fund Australia (SCCFA), to build a primary school in the village of Tom Nob in the Sangat of Stueng Trang.

During April 2011, AAI CEO, Marc Preston and Saruoun Khuon the Chairperson of SCCFA visited the remote village of Tom Nob to confirm earlier planning and preparation for the proposed construction of the school.

SCCFA has already undertaken extensive community engagement on the desired location of the school, the number of supported beneficiaries and the ongoing sustainment of the project once completed. It has coordinated with relevant government agencies including the District Governor and the Ministry of Education to obtain the necessary approvals for construction and also commissioned building plans and competitive building quotations. 

As a preliminary project to the construction of the school, it has already installed a water hand pump with funds generously donated by the Rotary Club of Bentleigh and Moorabbin Central from Victoria which now provides clean and safe drinking water to this impoverished community. 

The purpose of the recent visit was to meet with Community Leaders to:

  1. Confirm the current status of the project.
  2. Confirm that the building site had been de-mined and was safe for the commencement of construction.
  3. Reconfirm village data including supported beneficiaries, sustainment of the project, project costings and timelines. 

AAI will be providing Project Management advice and guidance to the project as well as assisting with Monitoring & Evaluation to ensure that all key outcomes are met. AAI  looks forward to supporting SCCFA in this project and the opportunity for further initiatives in this underserved area of rural Cambodia

Marc Preston -  CEO

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