Sunday, August 8, 2010

Garage Sale Funds Making a Difference in Cambodia

It’s been a month since we held the Giant Garage Sale at the Curling Club here in Gravenhurst, Ontario which raised $4,740 for children in Cambodia through A Mine Free World Foundation (AMFWF).

These funds have been sent to Cambodia and are slowly making improvements for the education of children there.

US$3,500 was sent to the Trailblazer Foundation to conduct a 100-Bicycle Distribution Project for children requiring this necessary transportation to get to the ‘Muskoka School’ in Siem Reap province. The Trailblazer Foundation, , is the US registered charity that spearheaded the building of the Muskoka School. They conduct numerous school building and water projects throughout the area.

They will be slowly disbursing the 100 bicycles to children who have to walk miles, or cannot get to the Muskoka School and surrounding schools. They’ll be sending along photos and a list of all the children who get this valuable means to get to school.

It’s the rainy season over there now. Some roads are impassable during this time of the year, so getting the bicycles to the children may take a while. Incidentally, schools are closed during July and August because it rains so hard.

But, there are some schools that stay open year-round there. These are the small ‘free-education’ schools. They are usually supported by outside organizations and depend on their funding to operate, since there is inadequate government support for any schools in Cambodia, as in most developing countries.

Free education schools provide Khmer and English literacy education, math and other subjects free of charge to any child, any age, who wants to learn. It does not matter if they attend a government school or not, and many can’t attend the government schools. Some children, especially in the rural areas, are needed to work the farm or the family business. Some can’t afford the few pennies it costs to attend most government schools. But here, at these ‘free-education’ schools, a child can attend one, or several of the usually one-hour long classes that are offered throughout the day.

Earlier this year, my dear friend Pauline Johns from Australia, put the funds in place to register such a ‘free-education’ school and organization in Cambodia – just on the outskirts of Phnom Penh.

It is run by Director Om Chamnap, a qualified teacher who has background experience in operating a non-government organization (NGO). Over 50 children are attending the one-room school – Banyan Learning Tree.

A Mine Free World Foundation sent US$435 to Banyan Learning Tree School for desperately-needed school-desks, notebooks, pens, pencils and rulers. – plus 3 signs that will help visitors, volunteers and prospective students find the school! More funds are needed for some English/Khmer books, and other supplies for this new school. If you can help out, please contact me at:

There are other ways you can help this school – if you are in Phnom Penh, drop by and sit in with one of the classes. Help the children learn to read English. Or, volunteer on a longer basis. Groups are also welcome to visit. There is a huge sign on the highway to Takeo now indicating precisely where the school is. If you telephone tuk-tuk driver Vanthon in Phnom Penh, he will take you right to the school: 012 906 793.

To volunteer or visit you can contact me or Director Om Chamnap. I will be in Cambodia from the beginning October to the beginning of April.

Banyan Learning Tree School

House #70, Street Chamcardong, Kvar Village,

Sangkat Dangkor, Phnom Penh, Cambodia

Phone: (+055) 012 590 009 Email:

Another ‘free-education’ school which received AMFWF Garage Sale funding is ‘Big Love School’ in the rural Takeo village of Trapeang Tum Tbong. They received US$250 for much-needed school supplies there. This rural village will be the main station for Pauline and I this winter. Pauline has rented a house where we will live and conduct many of our projects and volunteer at the school. A big Thank You to Vanthon for finding us this house. We hope to get a one-room clinic operating in this house, as the impoverished people in this area lack the money for basic medical attention or the transportation money required to get to a local free clinic.

There’s lots more news to tell and photos to share, but I’ll leave that for my next posting.

In the meantime, there are some items that are on the NEEDS LIST for Cambodia, that I would like to take over with me the beginning of October. Please contact me if you can donate any of the items below in good-used or new condition:


LAPTOPS operating on Windows


Many Thanks,

Lisa McCoy