Monday, December 19, 2011

Three New Schools for Cambodia!

AMFW Lisa McCoy with the Round Square Student Team 2011
in front of Their Completed School
in Prokeab village, Cambodia
Students from Round Square and their Nearly Completed School!
December 20th - Construction Day 8!
School Building Project Funded & Built by
In Collaboration with A Mine Free World Foundation, Canada
& Banyan Learning Tree in Cambodia

Round Square (RS) 'Brighter Beginnings' School in Prokeab, Takeo
Built by 21 international student team members.
December 19th Bicycle Distribution Ceremony:
The First 80 of over 200 Bicycles Sponsored by RS Students, Adults and Their Supporting Schools.

Round Square Students Design Sign for Their Constructed School

Round Square Student Team Leader David MacLellan (Canada) and
AMFW Exec. Director Lisa McCoy at Dec. 19th
Bicycle Distribution Ceremony at 'Brighter Beginnings'.


                                  Round Square Adult Leadership Training Team and Their Completed
                                    'Happy Gecko' School in Bakot, Takeo Province.
                       Under 'Happy Gecko' Sign: RSIS Project Manager Liz Gray and RS Exec Director Brian Dawson
RSIS Students in Early Phase of School Construction-
Lots of digging, shoveling, hand-mixing cement -
International Students Providing 'Sweat Equity' for the Education of Rural Cambodian Children.

In early December, 21 students arrived in Cambodia from participating  international Round Square Schools to build a school at the Banyan Learning Tree Centre located in Prokeab village, Takeo province, Cambodia.

Countries represented include Kenya, Canada, Australia, South Africa, India and England. Their Team Leaders are David McLellan (Canada) and Sonia Christian (South Africa).

Their 'Sweat Equity' Trip not only included building a school in rural Cambodia, but to also to participate in many of the cultural aspects of Cambodia. This included, visiting many of Cambodia's historical sights, learning a bit of the language, and social interaction with Khmer students.

A major hightlight of their trip was the 'Bicycle and Chicken Distribution Ceremony' which was held on December 19th.  The RS students had raised a few thousand dollars towards bikes and chickens for needy children and families. These were presented to the recipients at a grand distribution ceremony presided by the local Commune Leader, Mr. San Keoun.

It has been a pleasure for me to spend each day with these amazing students dedicated to provide education for the rural children in Takeo province. We all plan to celebrate this grand accomplishment by spending Christmas at the beach in Sihanoukville, Cambodia.
Banyan Learning Tree School - Outskirts of Phnom Penh -
Nearing Completion!
School Building Project Funded by Patti Lee, Barbara Seagram
& Their Bridge Groups from Toronto, Canada.
A Mine Free World Foundation Project supported by
The Canadian Landmine Foundation

Two Library Building Projects Slated for January 2012!

Many Thanks to Donors Asif and Wendy Ghayoor for funding the Library/Computer Resource Building at Prokeab village in Takeo Province.

Thanks to the generosity of Asif and Wendy Ghayoor (who raised half the funds and personally donated the other half), the rural children and adults will have a wonderful new community resource at the Banyan Learning Tree Centre in Prokeab village, Takeo province, Cambodia.

The "Calogero and Luke Puma Library" will be an integral part of the Banyan Learning Tree Centre, enabling children and adults to access books and resources in Khmer and English.
Computers in the library will provide students with access to information with basic computer skills taught. Construction on this first-of-its-kind project for Prokeab will commence January, 2012.

A second, big thanks to Patti Lee, Barbara Seagram and their enthusiastic Bridge Players from the Toronto School of Bridge.

Their amazing fundraising efforts have realized the new Banyan Learning Tree School on the outskirts of Phnom Penh, and continues with their sponsorship of a Library/Computer Resource Centre at the Bakot School Site.

Project to commence January 2012.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011


It has been raining almost everyday since Pauline Johns and I arrived in Cambodia three weeks ago. These rains have made a devasting impact to the lives of so many in the rural areas.

Rice crops have also been severely damaged with rice prices already on the increase - making matters even worse for the population's poor.

Close to one million people have been affected by the present flood conditions in many rural areas and also in the cities.

A Mine Free World Foundation is seeking your help to provide IMMEDIATE AID for some of the tens of thousands of families throughout Cambodia that have been stranded in flood waters for several weeks now.

The worst flooding in over a decade has claimed the lives of close to 300 people so far. Rain is predicted for several more days.

Here, in Battambang province, the district of Moung Roussey has 2116 families in need of immediate clean water and food. Your generous donation will provide this through the efforts of the Cambodian Red Cross who we work closely on the ground with.

Moung Roussey Flood-Damaged Home-
Before-On Dry Land. Accessible Only By Boat Now
 Donations made through our PayPal Portal will get these much-needed funds to Cambodia quickly. Please indicate ‘for flood victims’ on your donation submission. Donate at:

It will take some time for the flood waters to recede, so donations made by cheque will still benefit these families as they struggle to put their lives back together.

Donations by cheque:

A Mine Free World Foundation

In Memo Field: 'for flood victims'

Mail to:

A Mine Free World Foundation

906 Fung Place, Kitchener, ON
N2A 4M3

Thank You For Your Help!
Lisa and Pauline, October, 18, 2011 - Battambang province, Cambodia...

The past three weeks have seen Pauline and I visit all our main project areas: Phnom Penh, Takeo and Battambang.

Lisa and Pauline Lend a Hand at the Groundbreaking for
Banyan Learning Tree School on the Outskirts of Phnom Penh
On October 10th, we arrived in Phnom Penh to attend the groundbreaking of Banyan Learning Tree (BLT) School located on the city outskirts. This two-storey cement construction will replace the existing 60 year-old decaying structure that was demolished last week. Patti Lee, Barbara Seagram and their Bridge Group from Toronto are raising the funds for this Canadian Landmine Foundation project. BLT School conducts many outreach projects for landmine survivors in Phnom Penh and Takeo province.

BLT will see two new one-room schools built in two Takeo villages – Prokeab and Bakot- this December when groups of students and adults arrive from the international organization RoundSquare (RSIS). RSIS is funding the building of both schools and fencing for the large school site at Prokeab village.

Thanks to the Rotary Club of Etobicoke and their generous donation that will provide upwards to 10 landmine-affected families in rural Takeo province with a self-sustainable business.

Here in Battambang, Pauline and I have been out to the Koas Krala villages implementing Canadian Landmine Foundation Housing projects for landmine-affected families. This project provides all the building materials for a landmine-affected family to rebuild their village home.

Landmine Survivor Widowed Ki Peng and Her Three Children
will receive materials to have a new home built with help from Family Members
All the above projects are conducted through A Mine Free World Foundation in Canada.

After a few days in Phnom Penh next week, I’ll be heading to Siem Reap to meet up with the first of two groups of district 7070 Ontario Rotarians arriving in Cambodia on their ‘Sweat Equity’ Trip

We had hoped to get out the villages numerous times this week, but it has rained daily. We travel to the villages on the back of small motorcycles on slick, muddy village roads – made even less safe in the sheeting, pouring rain. We travel with Sopheany Chhouen and Mr. Loeung Deun from the Cambodian Red Cross. They’ve been twice out to the villages in Moung Roussey district providing aid to over 1,000 flood-stranded families there.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

‘Muskoka Wells’ to Benefit Two New Schools in Cambodia

Thousands of donated items from Muskoka and beyond, in the hands of a team of hard-working volunteers, resulted in over $5,500 raised at the A Mine Free World Foundation Giant Garage Sale held at the Gravenhurst Curling Club this July.

It was all for the cause to provide rural Cambodian children with two vital essentials that we here in Canada enjoy ample access to: Clean Water and Sanitation.

On two school-building sites in two small villages in Cambodia there now stand two, brand new two-stall latrines and two wells which are proudly sponsored by all those in Muskoka who contributed to the Giant Garage Sale endeavor.

A Big Thank You to Director Om Chamnap and Phearom Noun from

Banyan Learning Tree for a Successful Well and Latrine Project

New Schools

In addition, two new one-room schools will be erected this December in Prokeab and Bakot villages in Takeo Province, Cambodia when Gravenhurst resident Lisa McCoy and Pauline Johns (Australia) and teams of students and adults from the international organization Roundsquare ( spend three weeks in Cambodia on a school construction trip.

These are just two of four building projects that local Rotarian, and A Mine Free World Foundation Executive Director Lisa McCoy and Board Member Pauline Johns will be coordinating during their upcoming six months in Cambodia and Laos.

Another two-storey school on the outskirts of Phnom Penh, funded by Patti Lee, Barbara Seagram and the Toronto Bridge Group is slated for construction in October. The school site in Prokeab village will also see construction of a library/computer facility. All of these schools are under the Banyan Learning Tree umbrella organization in Cambodia.

17 year-old Thoun, a disabled student in a small village outside of Siem Reap, is now getting practical experience in his future profession. An excellent student, he now is providing an English Class at his village home. All supplies and desks were also provided from Giant Garage Sale funds. His own education is supported by the Rotary Club of Etobicoke. Now, he is sharing his knowledge with others. Thanks to Socheat Chea for overseeing this project in Cambodia.

Landmine Survivors

Much of A Mine Free World Foundation’s projects are conducted through the Canadian Landmine Foundation (CLMF) Officially introduced in 1999, the CLMF is Canada’s foremost awareness building and fundraising organization for landmine eradication. Its President and CEO, the Hon. Lloyd Axworthy, was the Foreign Affairs Minister responsible for ratifying the Ottawa Treaty, the international treaty to ban land mines.

All our current school-building projects all provide outreach programs for landmine-affected families.

Last winter, we implemented 34 micro-businesses for rural landmine survivors as well as provided educational support for their children. We’ll be providing this help for many more landmine survivors this winter. You can watch a video of one of her successful bicycle repair business recipients on the home page of the CLMF website.

You can sponsor a landmine survivor today with your donation to A Mine Free World Foundation. We have many families waiting for a small village business or a new home. You can donate online. For more information visit or email:

We look forward to showing visiting Rotarians from our district as well as the November Rotary and Friends Sweat Equity groups from district 7070 all these projects when they visit Battambang and the surrounding villages.

Rotary Wheels for Learning

Volunteering as Field Coordinator for the Rotary Club of Gravenhurst’s Rotary Wheels for Learning (RWFL) bicycle distribution program, Lisa, and Pauline, coordinated the distribution of over 300 bicycles for rural Cambodian children last year. Many of these bicycles went to children from landmine-affected families.

In January, 19 Bracebridge and Gravenhurst Rotarians and friends will join McCoy in Cambodia to distribute bicycles in five rural areas of the country. Their goal is to be able to provide 1,000 bicycles for needy children to attend school.

Fund Raiser at Boston Pizza September 22

You can help this cause by attending a special fundraising dinner at Boston Pizza in Gravenhurst on Sept. 22nd, 6-9pm. The Cambodia Trip Team will be on hand to serve your dinner! Special presentations, a silent auction and a night of fun are sure to be had by all. Reservations only – 684-8024.

If you can't attend, consider making a tax-receiptable donation to Rotary Wheels for Learning at the site below.

We head for Cambodia September 27th. Follow us at: and

We’ll also be spending some time in Laos this February as we join Steve Rutledge from Adopt a Village in Laos to help distribute 50 RWFL bicycles.

More, from Cambodia soon ;-)

Friday, July 15, 2011

Over $5,500 Raised at Our Record-Breaking GIANT GARAGE SALE!

WOW! What a record-breaking GIANT GARAGE SALE it was!

Just over $5,500 was raised for latrines and wells for two Banyan

Learning Tree School building sites in rural villages in Takeo

province, Cambodia.

Gravenhurst Curling Club Filled to the Brim!

It would not have been possible without all of the dedicated

volunteers and donors who made this A Mine Free World Foundation Sale

the success it was. I thank you all from the bottom of my heart - it

was alot of work, but rewarding work, because many children in these

Cambodian villages will benefit from Hygienic Toilets and Clean Water

at these two schools.

A Huge thanks goes to Jay and Linda Harrison who helped so much to

organize this Dan Blix for all the graphic Sobey's

Gravenhurst for our Saturday Bill and Dora Rathbun

for keeping us perked up with their coffee for 2 the

Gravenhurst Curling Club for letting us fill their rink with Muskoka's wonderful publications for their

many of you to thank!

Jim Goodwin and Lisa McCoy at Cash Table

We raised more than what we needed for the projects at hand. With the extra we raised, Thoun - a bright 18 year-old disabled student (limited mobility and smaller limbs on right side of body) in the small village of Pheam in Siem Reap Province, Cambodia will be starting a weekend school for young children in his village. He receives educational support from A Mine Free World Foundation and has been waiting for the opportunity to 'give back' by helping young children in his village receive extra help with their studies.

Pauline Johns, Socheat Chea & Lisa McCoy with Thoun at his village home in Pheam, Cambodia

Please keep tuned to our website at for updates

on the latrines, wells and the weekend school project in Pheam


Thank you for all your time, muscles, gasoline, garage space and

wonderful donations!

Lisa McCoy,

A Mine Free World Foundation

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Donations and Volunteers Needed for our Annual GIANT GARAGE SALE July 9th & 10th

Our 6th Annual 'A Mine Free World Foundation' 
 Giant Garage Sale Towards Educational Support for Cambodian Schools is Coming Up Soon!
We need your help - Donations of good used or new items (no clothing, please).

MANY VOLUNTEERS needed - Young & Old. Great summer volunteer experience for students.

Set-up all day Friday - volunteers with some time and a truck needed.

People to help set-up, sell and clean up any time throughout the 3 days.     

Many 'sit-down' jobs.

We are also in need of many grocery bags and the loan of some shopping carts.

We also need GARAGE SPACE IN THE GRAVENHURST AREA to store donated items until July 8th.

For a minimum donation of $20, you can have a table to sell your own wares at the sale.

To volunteer, have a table or donate, contact: Lisa McCoy 705-687-8538,


Jay & Linda Harrison 705-687-7679,

This year, we are trying to raise $4,822 towards two 2-stall latrines

and two wells for two rural school-building sites in Takeo province,

Cambodia. The sites have been leveled and filled. Now, we need your

help to provide CLEAN WATER and HYGIENIC TOILETS for the two schools

that will be built on these sites in December. We have a group of students coming from around

the world through the RoundSquare organization to builds these schools.

We have Bracebridge and Gravenhurst Rotarians going over in January

that will be giving out some of the Rotary Wheels for Learning

Bicycles to new students who will be attending these schools.

No donation is too small - no committment of time volunteered is too small. It will all go to help provide these rural children with important sanitation.
Vaughn Adamson with Lisa McCoy and just a few of her numerous donations
Many Thanks to those of you who have already volunteered your time and have made generous donations. This past weekend, Jay, Linda, Carl and I picked up two truckloads and one trailer load of items donated by good friend Vaughn Adamson of Dwight and her family. Thanks to all - including Vaughn, Barb, Jay and Linda for their trucking and loading help. We'd love to pick up more donations like this. 

Many thanks to also Inge Fritz and Neil and Kim Barlow for their donations.

Huge Thanks to Dan Blix for his superb graphic design work on the posters going around Muskoka and on this blog:

Dan's Advertising Design:
I'd be so happy to have my phone ringing off the wall - so please go check out your garage or attic and we'll be happy to put your items to good work in the developing country of Cambodia.


Earlier this year, Barbara Seagram, Patti Lee and members from their Toronto Bridge Group visited Phonm Penh and our small Banyan Learning Tree School there.  The Bridge group had raised funds for 40 bicycles for the children there through Rotary Wheels for Learning .

Barbara and Patti saw the close to 100 children who attend the small one-room bamboo school there  and took it upon themselves to fundraise to build a new two-storey, cement school for the children. 

The total project cost is just over $24,000. $3,000 has already been raised by donors in Australia.  The Bridge Group is determined to raise the rest through three spectacular Bridge Events.

The first will be held in Toronto on June 24th. The second, on August 27th in Chatham.

This Canadian Landmine Foundation Project is conducted by A Mine Free World Foundation.

Tax receipts are issued for donations of $25 or more. Contact me at to donate.

To play Bridge for a Cause in Chatham, contact Patti Lee at:

Thanks Everyone, Lisa McCoy

Saturday, April 30, 2011

A Busy April for A Mine Free World Foundation!

I arrived back from my six months in Cambodia the first week of April and have hit the ground flying! A Mine Free World Foundation (AMFW) Board member Pauline Johns is back in her home country of Australia, and many plans are already underway for our return to Cambodia this October.

AMFW President Maria van Santen and I were guest speakers at the Etobicoke Rotary Club’s Night of a Thousand Chopsticks event on Wednesday, April 27th. Rotarian Bill Rathbun, his wife Dora and our Gravenhurst Rotary Exchange Student , Federica, all enjoyed the wonderful buffet dinner at the Mandarin Restaurant. Many Thanks to the club for such an enjoyable evening. It was good to see Debra Selkirk, Richard Chapman, Hugh Williams and all our many good friends there.

Lisa McCoy & Maria van Santen of AMFW at Night of A Thousand Chopsticks
 What a fantastic surprise to see good friend and Toronto Rotarian Chris Snyder arrive! Chris is also a Board Member of the Canadian Landmine Foundation, which is supporting some of A Mine Free World Foundation’s ongoing projects.

Maria and I gave a special powerpoint presentation to everyone at the event highlighting the many beneficial projects in Cambodia that the Rotary Club of Etobicoke supported this past year for rural landmine-affected families and their children.

Lisa McCoy Provides Richard Chapman of the Rotary Club of Etobicoke
with a Report of their Club's Support for Landmine-Affected Families
 Thanks to all who attended the Night of a Thousand Chopsticks Event that will realize future help for landmine-affected families in Cambodia – particularly those that are living in the rural areas in huts that are less than adequate and pose a risk to these families’ health and well-being.

Thanks to Rotarian Ralph Chiodo for buying more Cambodian silk scarves in aid of our AMFW Rural Dental Hygiene Education Program in Cambodia, and thanks to everyone at the event who purchased at total of $169 in 'Embracelet' sales. Money raised from the sale of these woven bracelets made by rural women and girls in Cambodia, goes back to support their educational needs, and to help more women and girls.

Many Thanks to Dora Rathbun for selling close to $600 in Embracelets at our AMFW and Rotary Wheels for Learning presentations this past month. A big thanks to Bill Rathbun for driving us all over Ontario!

Chris Snyder from The Rotary Club of Toronto, Bill Rathbun from the Rotary Club of Gravenhurst
and Ralph Chiodo from the Rotary Club of Etobicoke -
All Paul Harris Fellows!

Dora Rathbun selling Embracelets with Lisa McCoy

During our six months in Cambodia and our many trips into rural villages to visit these families, we came across many living in grass huts with termite infested beams and large gaping holes in the roofs and walls – many did not even have four walls!

Pauline and I rebuilt two homes this past winter. With help from  Sopheany from the Cambodian Red Cross in Battambang and Director Chamnap of Banyan Learning Tree in Phnom Penh, we now have developed a project that can provide a new post and beam, grass-paneled, metal-roofed home for a rural family.

Your Donation of US$425 can provide a new home for a landmine survivor and his/her family. Recipients are supplied with all the building materials and tools and they build their own home. Donors are given a photo of their sponsored family’s present home, their new home and biographical information on their family.

You can read details of this project, and how to donate at the following Google Docs Link:


Patti Lee, Barbara Seagram and members of their Toronto Bridge Group are still going strong and planning about three events to raise funds towards AMFW’s project to rebuild Banyan Learning Tree School on the outskirts of Phnom Penh. Members of their group had visited the school and helped give out some of the 40 Rotary Wheels for Learning Bicycles they provided for children there. You can read more about this at:

Banyan Learning Tree School provides English and basic sanitation education to close to 100 students. It also conducts many outreach projects for landmine-affected families in villages near the Killing Fields. The children attending the school are currently learning in a makeshift bamboo classroom. There is only one small outside latrine. The new, two-storey cement structure will include inside classrooms and two indoor washrooms. The total project cost is US$23,038.74. This AMFW project is supported by the Canadian Landmine Foundation. Any donation of $25 or more is eligible for a Canadian tax receipt. Donations towards this building project can be made by cheque to:

‘The Canadian Landmine Foundation’, and mailed to:

Chris Snyder
Investment Planning Counsel/ECC Group
100 Simcoe St., Suite 100
Toronto, ON, M5H 3G2

In the Memo Field of your cheque, please indicate ‘Banyan School’. Tax receipts issued in Canada for donations of $25 or more.

Please help us rebuild Banyan Learning Tree School. If we can raise $17,241.76, we can build the first storey this fall! For a full project proposal, contact me at:

More exciting AMFW rural school-building projects in Cambodia are being supported by the world-wide Round Square organization, . They will be bringing two groups over in December to fund and build two one-room cement free education schools in two rural villages in Takeo province. The first team will be comprised of students from around the world. The second will be a leaders training group. It will be exciting for all of us at AMFW to host enthusiastic people from around the world as they work alongside rural people in Cambodia to build schools to further the education of children.

These two schools will be part of our Banyan Learning Tree (BLT) organization in Cambodia. BLT Director Om Chamnap is pleased to announce that Socheat Chea will be our sub-office director in Takeo overseeing both these schools in Takeo. The school that the RoundSquare students will be building is the first structure on site. This Banyan Learning Tree School is the first phase of a huge nine-phase project – Banyan Learning Tree Centre- that will see a two-building Family Care Centre and Library & Computer Centre included – a valuable rural resource centre that will be of benefit to so many!

Director Chamnap has been working hard in Cambodia and we are happy to report that 215 trucks of landfill have just been leveled at this site!

Filled and Leveled - Ready for the Banyan Learning Centre in Rural Takeo
 One more piece of exciting news to share! St. Brigid Catholic School in Toronto, Canada will be actively helping our Banyan Learning Tree School students in Phnom Penh! They have plans to raise some funds for bicycles for the students.

Last month, 67 of the BLT students wrote letters and created masterpiece drawings that I brought back with me to Canada to deliver to the St. Brigid students when I visit their school on May 27.


We are also busy getting plans underway for our AMFW GIANT GARAGE SALE this summer. We don’t have a venue or the date set yet – we need your help – we are looking for a place to hold this giant fundraiser! We are also ready to start taking in donations of new or good-used items.

CALL OR EMAIL if you would like to donate items, volunteer or have a venue where we can hold our sale:

Lisa McCoy 705-687-8538
Jay & Linda Harrison 705-687-7679

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Cambodian Landmine Survivor's Successful Bicycle Repair Business

Since Cambodian landmine survivor Nil Noy received his 'A Mine Free World Foundation' bicycle repair business in November 2010, his business has been growing in leaps and bounds. Every time we visit his business we are totally in awe of his ingenuity and enthusiasm. His beaming smile and pride are as big as his determination to lift himself and his family out of a life of poverty. Soon after he received his Rotary Club of Etobicoke sponsored business, he began buying bicycle parts from the few dollars he made and started building bicycles!

Last month, Jay and Linda Harrison of Gravenhurst, Ontario donated a new compressor for his business which enabled him to pump up not only bicycle tires, but also the tires of trucks and tractors in the area.

He saved enough money from his business to enrol himself in a 10-day spray painting course in Battambang. He has just returned from this course and business continues to boom. He now has a yard full of bicycles he has built - he even built one using the wheels of a used broken wheelchair - just an amazing man!

Nil Noy and His Growing Bicycle building/repair Business

Nil Noy will also be 'giving back' by building 3-5 bicycles a year which will be donated to children of landmine affected families.

Nil Noy lives in Koh Krala district in Battambang province, Cambodia. He lost his right leg to a landmine in 1988 while serving in the army.

Nil Noy also saved Pauline and I from a possible snake bite :-)

Your donation will help a landmine survivor by supplying him/her with a self-sustainable business. Recipients receive a business which will provide them income in their rural community. Visit our 'To Donate' tab at the top of this page.

Here is another success story:

Plet Hing lives with her 2 daughters in a poor village in Koas Krala district, Battambang province, Cambodia. Thanks to the generosity of A Mine Free World Foundation donor, Morn Mon of United States, Hing now has 13 healthy chickens that will be laying soon.

Part of her donation package included $40 capital to build a chicken coop. But, Hing has no husband or knowledge of how to build a coop - but that did not deter her! She hired a local village man for $10 to build her coop, bought the coop building supplies for $20, and had $10 leftover to buy rice for her family and her chickens.

Plet Hing, Daughterand new Chicken Coop

Where there's a will - there's a way!

Plet Hing is 48 years old and lost her leg to a landmine. Shortly after, her husband left her and the girls to fend for themselves.

When Kog Koum was 9 years-old, he lost his right arm to a landmine. Children in the rural areas of Cambodian playing in the fields often fall victim to these deadly remnants of war.

Thanks to A Mine Free World Foundation Donors: the Etobicoke Rotary Club , who funded Heang Saret's TV/Radio repair business, and Jay and Linda Harrison of Gravenhurst, Ontario, who bought a year's worth of art supplies for the year-long course, Kog Koum now will have the opportunity to learn what he desires most - Art! He will be taught by landmine survivor Heang Saret who not only repairs TVs, but is known as an accomplished artist in his village.

Happy Art Student Kog Koum - Heang Saret Art Teacher looks on
Both Landmine Survivors

Heang Saret and Kog Koum both live in Koas Krala village and know each other. Kog Koum seems an unhappy boy, not being able to fit-in with his peers. He seems uncared for in his small village home - lost amongst his 7 other siblings. But he's a happy young man today, with big smiles and a world of creativity ahead of him. Their artistic relationship will hopefully also result in some positive mentoring for Kog Koum.

Heang Saret lost his right leg to a landmine in 1988 while serving in the army. He and his wife have five children. Their artistic relationship will hopefully also result in some positive mentoring for Kog Koum.
Kog Koum hopes to be able to teach art someday to young children in his village.  We'll have some of their art available for sale to help other landmine survivors in 2012.

The Circle of Giving Keeps Going Around :-)

Lisa and Pauline, Battambang
A Mine Free World Foundation

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Help for Landmine Survivors, Round Square Organization Sponsors a Future School-Building Project, Night of A 1000 Chopsticks & more!

 I'd like to begin this latest blog posting with a special announcement about a special school-building project in rural Cambodia:

Round Square Organization, a world-wide association of more than 80 schools on five continents, will be briging a team of students to Cambodia this December to build a one-room school in rural Takeo province in Cambodia. The project will be conducted through A Mine Free World Foundation in Canada and will result in a second Banyan Learning Tree School built in Cambodia. Banyan Learning Tree is a registered Cambodian organization dedicated to providing free education and support for the impoverished children and people of rural Cambodia.

A team of up to 20 Round Square students from countries around the world will arrive the first week of December and with the help of local builders, construct a one-room, cement free-education school in the village of Trapeang Thum in Takeo Province. They will also get involved in sponsoring and giving out some bicycles to rural area students as well as a many other activities that will allow them to interact with Cambodia's friendly people and experience its unique culture.

An announcement of a special evening in support of A Mine Free World Foundation and its projects to help landmine survivors living in the rural areas of Cambodia:

Night of 1000 Chopsticks

Hosted by the Rotary Club of Etobicoke

Location: Mandarin Restaurant, The Queensway in Etobicoke.

Date / Time: 6:00 PM, Wednesday April 27

Visit the Rotary Club of Etobicoke website for more information.
Cost: $60 with a $35 tax receipt issued. Maximum capacity is 70 people, so register early!

I’ve just returned for another ten days traveling through the villages of Koas Krala district in Battambang province. The Canadian Landmine Foundation and the Rotary Club of Etobicoke have sponsored a total of 31 businesses and vocational courses for landmine-affected families scattered throughout this district. Days are spent visiting these families and seeing how these self-sustainable businesses are slowly improving the quality of their lives.

I am based in Battambang and to get to the villages involves a 50km moto ride there and back on the dry dusty roads of the region. My moto driver is Sopheany from the Cambodian Red Cross and she is a superb driver as most Cambodians are. We’re accompanied by Sida and Deun (also from the Red Cross) on another moto. By the end of our day, we are all covered in red dust , thirsty and tired but always with a heartwarming sense of accomplishment for the help we have been able to provide to a few of the poor in the area.

There have been so many success stories, but here are a few of the highlights:

Thanks to recent A Mine Free World Foundation (AMFWF) donor Morn Mon in United States, landmine survivors Plet Hing and Koun Khan each now have chicken-rearing businesses at their homes. Hing is also busy building a chicken coop which is also supplied with this donation. Khan already has a chicken coop, so will use his capital to buy a pig and  few ducks. $125 can provide a family with up to 13 chickens, baskets, cages and capital to build their own chicken coop. To sponsor a chicken-rearing or another self-sustainable business for a landmine-affected family, please contact us at:

Khan (with Sopheany)receives 8 chickens and
money to buy a pig and ducks

Hing receives her 2 baskets containing
13 chickens

Banyan Learning Tree School on the outskirts of Phnom Penh now has a collection of close to 100 books and a new wood bookcase – their first Library thanks to donor Robena Kirton of Gravenhurst Ontario. This new library was celebrated along with a distribution of 25 Rotary Wheels for Learning Bicycles on February 22nd. The school had its first international visitors that day: Patti Lee, Barbara Seagram and their Bridge Group from Toronto. We were all delighted with the ‘Reading Frenzy’ that occurred that first time the children saw and read these books.

You can watch a video of the children using the new library at:

Landmine survivor Heang Saret received support for his TV/Radio repair business from the Rotary Club of Etobicoke. When I visited his small roadside home/repairshop he was busy repairing a TV for a customer- business is good and he makes enough to provide food for the family. His family of five lives in the back portion of the hut and he conducts his repairs in the front. His straw roof and walls were riddled with gaping holes offering absolutely no protection against the elements for his family or business. Sopheany and I researched some costs for new beams, a metal roof and new grass panels for his house.

Thanks to Wendy Inatey from Australia, Saret’s family now has a new home. Sopheany and I purchased all the materials and Saret and his eldest son rebuilt their home. The project took them 11 days, and Saret and his son received the satisfaction of doing the work themselves. This rebuild cost US$130.

Saret's New Home with Metal Roof - $130

Landmine survivor Meum Haeng with a wife and five children live in a small hut that only has 2 walls. His wife received a small business from the Rotary Club of Etobicoke where she sells vegetables from her bicycle with an attached large basket. Haeng and his wife are desperately looking for a sponsor to supply the building materials to give them a metal roof and four new walls. US$180 can give them all the supplies they need and they’ll do all the work themselves.

Meum Haeng and Son


AMFWF Board Member Pauline Johns and I will soon be heading back into the rural villages of Koas Krala district. We'd love to provide businesses and homes for more landmine-affected families. Landmine casualties are on the rise in Cambodia. I've seen the Cambodian Mine Action Authority CMAC) hard at work in the rural villages in this area, but it will take years and years to remove the estimated five million landmines that plague these rural areas in Cambodia. It does not take much to make a big difference in the life of a rural person.

We have friends Robin and Clair arriving from Australia tomorrow - their first time to Cambodia!  Pauline and I have lots to show them. In a few days the four of us will be heading to Takeo province to vist the 11 rural women participating in the 'Embracelets' program and to see all the beautiful bracelets, necklaces and keychains they've been busy making.  See: for more about that exciting project.

More soon in a few days...thanks to everyone for their generous support.

Phnom Penh

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Cambodia Landmine Survivor Success Story - A Compressor for Nil Noy's Rural Bicycle Repair Business

Click on the above photo to see a web album of Nil Noy and the compressor he will receive tomorrow.

Ever since landmine survivor Nil Noy received his Rotary Club of Etobicoke sponsored bicycle repair business, he has been going bananas fixing and even building bicycles from scratch! He is a man on a mission to lift his family of 8 out of poverty. He is proud of the bicycles he builds and sells. His home is on a busy road on the way to Koas Krala in Battambang district.

His business will improve vastly now with this brand new compressor which will enable him to not only pump up bicycle tires, but also moto and tractor tires. He will make 200, 500 and 1000 riel respectively for each tire he pumps up for a customer. - A Mine Free World Foundation - dedicated to improve the lives of landmine survivors in Cambodia. Watch his compressor fire up at:

In return for his compressor, Nil Noy will 'pay it forward' buy building 3-5 bicycles a year for children of landmine survivors in his area - enabling them to get to school!

Nil Noy's compressor was loaded onto a moto trailer and will make it's way to Koas Krala tomorrow with a truckload of 70 Rotary Wheels for Learning bicycles.

Donate today to lift a landmine survivor out of poverty - see the 'To Donate' tab at the top of this page.

Watch Nil Noy Smile as Battambang Rotarian Samrithy
fires up his new compressor generously donated by
Jay and Linda Harrison of Gravenhurst, Ontario

Nil Noy Receives Compressor in Koas Krala and is now ready for  lots of business!

Friday, January 28, 2011

Two Days in Koas Krala Villages – Visiting Landmine Survivors and Volunteering for The Cambodian Red Cross

I’ve been two days on the back of a moto (small-engine motorcycle) traveling the bumpy, dust-red backroads of Koas Krala district, Battambang Province, Cambodia. My friend Sopheany from the Cambodian Red Cross has been taking me around to visit all the landmine-affected families that received business and vocational support from the Rotary Club of Etobicoke and the Canadian Landmine Foundation.

Sopheany Chhoeun is 27 years-old and the dedicated District Administrator for the Cambodian Red Cross. Her English skills are being put to the test as we travel together. She is doing very well with simple translating and in the past two days we have visited 16 of the 31 homes that were provided these businesses through A Mine Free World Foundation.

Rien Youm - His Barber Shop & Customer
Funded by the Rotary Club of Etobicoke
Sopheany from the Cambodian Red Cross
Studies Landmine Survivor's Files



It is a long moto drive to Koas Krala - over one hour- and many of the landmine-affected families live strewn throughout several villages. So, it pretty well means all day on the back of a moto. Of the 12 businesses we saw on Wednesday, 10 were doing very good!

Most of them were chicken-rearing businesses. In November each recipient received chickens and chicken baskets and capital to buy more chickens and build a chicken coop on their property. Well – after 2 months results are astonishing and the chicken numbers have multiplied rapidly! One man has 46 chickens now, many chicks and ducks also! Another man has 14 chickens, many chicks and a PIG!
Son Sang-Chicken Rearing Business & Chicken House
Funded by the Canadian Landmine Foundation

Vun Therm-Chickens and Chicken House
Funded by the Canadian Landmine Foundation


One amputee who got a chicken business used his extra capital to buy 8 ducks and he has 68 duck eggs being incubated and 7 chickens now and is in the process repairing his chicken house. Another Chicken business recipient also has duck eggs about to hatch. Seems all our chicken businesses have a duck sideline!!!! Another chicken business that we visited has over 30 chickens now.
Khom Kam-8 Ducks, 7 Chickens, 68 Duck eggs to hatch, Repairs to Chicken House
Funded by the Canadian Landmine Foundation
Two of the chicken recipients are elderly men, one lost a leg to a landmine - the other has a fractured hip and internal injuries due to a landmine. These 2 old men have actually bonded with their chickens. They actually love them. I hope they both realize they will have to sell them eventually...actually, they have been...but I never realized that many of the recipients treat their chickens with such warmth, care and love. Also was wonderful to see all the grown chickens nesting in their cardboard boxes or whatever is on hand to make a makeshift nesting box with.
Comfy inside the new Chicken House
You can provide a village level chicken-rearing business to a landmine-affected family with a US$125 donation to A Mine Free World Foundation. Each donor is provided with a photo and information of their sponsored family. See our ‘To Donate’ page- tab at the top of this page.

A Mine Free World Foundation provides numerous village-level businesses to landmine survivors:

The one barber business we visited needs a new clipper - I will have to get him one, his business will pick up again then. The other barber recipient had a customer in the chair when I arrived. He cuts people's hair in his wheelchair. His business is doing well.

One small shop business recipient has changed his business to an EEL Farming business - they are building a small, square cement swimming pool!!!! That is great! This is also a very lucrative village level business.

That said, Sopheany and I discovered that we both like to eat eel, so we decided to have lunch in a very nice restaurant in Koas Krala...we ate fried eel, and 2 plates of chicken and vegetables, plus Coca Cola and the tab was only $3.50!!!!!!

We had a lot of fun - Sida (Red Cross volunteer) came along also. We find one big problem with many of the poorest landmine victims. Many landmine survivors don’t own the land or hut they live in. Their homes are falling apart with huge holes in the grass walls and roofs. I would love to be able to fix up their homes, but if you make them too nice, the owners may take their house and land back – big problem. One solution is to fix up their home with perhaps a few pieces of metal sheeting and patch up the grass walls – just enough to keep the family dry.

Help Repair the Heang Family Roof!

Heang Saret's TV/Radio Repair Shop
Funded by Etobicoke Rotary Club

One wonderful family – a landmine survivor who runs a TV and radio repair business is a hard worker and good father with a loving wife and five children. Big holes in their roof...his shop get wets when it rains ...all over the electronics, which they have to cover quickly with tarps....the one small room where they all live in gets wet, but he does not own the land or the hut. He had customers at his shop and his business is doing great. Perhaps some metal sheeting for his roof will keep his family and business dry. If you would like to donate to this specific need, please contact me at:

....Oh Yes! - These were all surprise business inspections. The recipients had no idea thatwe were coming. They were all (except for an absent carpenter recipient) happy to see us again and proudly showed off their businesses.

One of our landmine victims has died since his family was given a small shop business. The old widow now runs the small food shop business and is very proud of it. This business has also given her otherwise lonely life some socializing when people come to buy small goods from her.
Hor Veourn's Widow- Proud of her new Village shop
Funded by the Canadian Landmine Foundation

Anyway, from what I have seen these past couple of days, the chicken rearing businesses are a huge success - these are huge chickens - no disease problems either. People with these businesses, sell the chickens and ducks from their homes to nearby villagers to bring in money as needed. Many of the chicken recipients still seek out extra outside employment as it pops up. They also eat the chickens themselves too. But, I was really amazed at how fast they grow and have chicks of their own.

A Mine Free World Foundation donor, Morn Mon, has supplied 2 more chicken businesses for 2 more on our list of identified 51 Koas Krala landmine families - Plet Hing and Khoun Kam. They will get their chickens on Feb 6 at the Rotary Wheels for Learning bicycle distribution. We’ll be giving out 70 bicycles to needy area children who lack this vital transportation.

Yesterday, it was back to Koas Krala for more 'business inspections':

Cambodia is so interesting when you allow the Khmer people to take you places, and you have no idea where you are being taken to:

Today, I arrived in Koas Krala, caked in red dirt from being on the moto for over an hour (normal - from the roads, especially now in the dry season) Sopheany drives me to the Koas Krala District Governor's office, because she thought it would be "nice for me to meet him" , even though he does not understand English...anyway, it turned out to be a pleasant meeting with the Governor, who even offered me a room with bath at the office to stay in if ever I should need one. (maybe he saw how dirty I was :-)

After that, again - having no idea where I was being taken, Sopheany drives me for another 45 minutes on bumpy roads to a poor, poor village, where a whole bunch of food has just arrived - I ended up volunteering all morning giving out food for the Red Cross (I guess the Cambodian Red Cross has been helping out Rotary so much, so it's time for me to help them out a little :-) was truly a fantastic experience....the food program they have directly gets the food to the very poor!!!....a donor can provide a box of food staples for a family for $12/month. Contact me if you would like to support this food program for the many landmine-affected families in Koas Krala.

Cambodian Red Cross prepares food for distribution

They also provide enough seeds for garden for a family for $25!!!! I told Sopheany that I would try to find her more funding for this and the food program...she says she has so many more poor that she just does not have funding for. One of our landmine victims who got chickens also got seeds for his whole garden that he had just tilled by hand. He was so, so proud to show me his fantastic chickens...his new coop and his garden ready to be seeded.

After that, we visited 4 more landmine survivors who received businesses, lunch and then THREE of us (Red Cross volunteer Mr. Loeung drove)went on the moto,( because roads were so bad and Sopheany was too scared to drive), to her parent's place, where we spent the rest of the afternoon eating pineapples from her father's garden and then back to Battambang - filthy as usual, bones hurting from the moto, but with three lovely pineapples and and feeling wonderful of the many cherished village visits here so far.

To view more photos from the past two village days CLICK HERE