SIEM REAP DISTRICT
BFT’s story started with the establishment of childcare and education activities in Siem Reap City (Krong Siem Reap) and projects in villages around Angkor Wat. At the time, Siem Reap was the poorest province in Cambodia. It is now the second poorest, after Preah Vihear.
In 2006, Sedtha Long, with the encouragement and support of Dr King Gan, an Australian doctor, registered Build Your Future Today Center as a non-government organization (NGO), based at his family home in Siem Reap, where he had for already provided education and welfare help to children and families in need for some years.
Each school day, after their regular classes are finished, hundreds of children from Siem Reap and nearby villages appear by bicycles, on the back of motor scooters and on foot in the side street off Wat Polanka Rd. There is a babble of young voices in the courtyard of the BFT Center, but within minutes, the children disappear into the classrooms in the rear of the main building and are soon hard at work on their after-school studies. Classes are provided in English and computers, two of the most important skills which they will need in this town where most employment opportunities revolve around the tourism and hospitality industries.
The Villages of Angkor Park
Sedtha Long met Dr King Gan at the Angkor Hospital for Children, from which they ran outreach programs for surrounding villages. That formed the basis for the development of a systematic, holistic program to improve the conditions of villages around Angkor Park, not far from the BFT Center in Siem Reap City.
Read below just two of the stories of lives of village families completely changed by the intervention of Sedtha Long and the BFT team.
Noeurn’s Story: From Deserted Mother To Helping Thousands Of Children Stay In School
Chak Noeurn, from the village of Sras Srong Cherng (Kok Yeing), was abandoned by her husband. Her children were forced to beg at Angkor Wat. Unable to read or write, Noeurn had little chance to provide for the family. When BFT came to her village, they asked her what her dream would be. She answered that she would like to be a seamstress.
BFT gave Noeurn the opportunity to fulfil her dream, support her children, and regain her self-respect. Noeurn currently has a contract to supply more than 1500 uniforms for children attending BFT village schools. Foreign donors pay for the uniforms, which are a source of pride as well as essential for children to remain in school. Noeurn, therefore, is not only supporting her own children through her earnings but helping all the children who wear her uniforms break the cycle of poverty. From one sewing machine, provided by BFT, Noeurn now has six machines and a workshop that BFT built, which can accommodate 24 sewing students at a time. Noeurn recently started teaching sewing, on Tuesdays and Fridays, to women in the distant village of La’ak.
Oot Yee’s Story: From Losing Her Children To Reuniting With Her Family And Giving Back To The Community
When BFT first came across Oot Yee in Arak Svay village, she was a substance abuser whose husband had left her. Her children were living in the street. The BFT Center housed the children and sent them to school while helping Oot Yee improve her life, with the help of Buddhist monks. But Oot Yee’s shack leaked in the rain, and there wasn’t enough room to provide a secure home for her seven children and her mother. She lacked a way of earning income. When asked what she would like to do with her life, Oot Yee said that she would like to be a fish farmer.
BFT built a fish pond for her, stocked it with fish, and taught her how to run a business. A group of volunteers, including monks, built a sturdy house to replace the leaky shack, enabling family members to live together once again. Oot Yee now gives back to the community by helping feed village children each morning before school, and by working in BFT’s Mother & Child program.