The history of the community where J935N Transforming Cambodia works has its origins in the backstreets of Cambodia’s capital, Phnom Penh, in 2006 when a village of 1,000 families were forcibly evicted from their inner-city homes and dumped in a wetland on the outskirts of the city. With little more than the clothes on their backs and a plastic sheet for shelter, these families lost access to all the basic necessities in life and there was little hope for the future in their new community called Andong village.
Our in-country partner Development for the People of Cambodia (DPC) rallied alongside the villagers and set about meeting their immediate needs like food, shelter and clean drinking water. One of DPC’s first initiatives was to construct a modest primary school and provide a free education and meals to the village children, the first in their families to ever set foot in a classroom.
From humble beginnings of just a handful of students, the J935N Transforming Cambodia project includes Andong Primary School which today delivers a first class (and still free) education and meals to in excess of 550 students and is recognised as one of the leading NGO-run educational facilities in the country, so much so that our slum village children are outperforming their middle-class peers when going on to public high school.
The J935N Transforming Cambodia project has also diversified into a remote rural region in the north of the country, Oddar Meanchey, where unemployment is rife and families are often separated as parents are forced to leave their children to work over the border in Thailand. We have duplicated this very successful educational model in this rural village, once again providing a free education and meals to almost 600 eager primary students.
Across both villages the J935N Transforming Cambodia project encompasses not just primary-based education, but now includes a high school boarding house and mentoring, tertiary education support, house building and income generation activities, clean water initiatives and medical treatments to name just a few. It very much aims to provide a holistic approach to equipping these families with the tools to become self-reliant and free of the shackles of poverty now and into the future.