After a busy 2016, we would like to share our wonderful achievements in all the projects of Life and Hope Association which have been actively operating to help deal with the many problems and needs of the poor and vulnerable children, as well as young women at risk in various communities of Siem Reap Province, Cambodia.
Our goal is to develop a successful model of change through the Buddhist Wats in Cambodia that offers society’s most disadvantaged people a significantly improved LIFE AND HOPE for a better future and then to replicate this model in other Wats to bring a transformational change to society. We are strongly committed to using our energy, knowledge, experiences, and skill to invest in disadvantaged people and help them break the cycle of ignorance and poverty, bringing a more comfortable environment for poor children, families, and communities.
Program Advancing Girls’ Education (PAGE)
In September, PAGE opened a new building named in honor of Venerable Somnieng, LHA’s founder and first executive director. Thanks to the generosity of three major donors and architect Tim Bentley, the new dormitory building was added to expand the program capacity from 24 to 36 girls. At the same time, the existing building was upgraded and a new kitchen and dining area was added along with additional bathroom facilities. On September 14, Brother Somnieng addressed a large gathering of dignitaries and guests at the grand opening, and cut the ribbon to open Somnieng House.
With this added capacity and the graduation of girls in year 12, we were delighted to welcome 20 new PAGE students to the program in September. They were chosen from 128 applicants, all from families of extreme poverty and disadvantage. Without this opportunity to continue their education, these girls would be forced to take on unskilled, menial employment, sometimes in very risky environments. Instead, they will have the opportunity to finish high school and follow in the path of previous PAGE graduates who have gone on to university or vocational training. All these girls have been able to break out of the cycle of poverty that had trapped their families.
At the end of the year, thirteen PAGE students took their national examination to finish their high school levels. Eight students received the vocational training scholarship from Sala Bai and Haven Organisations at their restaurant, and in beauty. One is working as a Primary School Teacher, another is working as a cook in our PAGE program and two are working in profitable private companies.
All students in grade 10 and grade 11 progressed up a level for the coming year. One student, Bor Sochhea, who graduated in her Bachelor Degree from Build Bright University Siem Reap Campus in Banking and Finance.
Sustainable Community Projects (SCP)
At least forty two poor families from six villages of Peak Sneng Commune in Angkor Thom District were provided with monthly food – 15kg per family of fish sauce, soy sauce and frying oil. Also twelve families were provided with a microloan. One hundred and forty-three school uniforms and study materials were provided to poor children during the year. Monitoring and evaluation of the children and families are regularly conducted by our project coordinator assistant and village volunteers.
As for the results? Based on our evaluation result, three families opened a shop to generate incomes. For example the Pot family opened a hairdressing shop, the Ser family opened a clothing shop and the Dum family opened a biycle repair shop. These families can now generate at least $7 per day. Thirty percent of poor families are seeing improvements because they have a specific job to do. There was also a reduction in gambling, drinking, and domestic violence. Most importantly, with hard work and ninety-eight percent of the children in this community being regularly in school, most of the children weren’t forced to make money for the families instead of being educated.
Children Development Village (CDV)
At the end of this year, there were twenty-two children in the Children Development Village, eleven of whom are girls. This project, located in Leap Village, Peak Sneng Commune, Angkor Thom District, about twenty-five kilometres to the north of the Angkor Area.
In 2016, we repaired the playground, the temple, repainted the office and house number 6, grew flowers in the front of houses and garden areas, repaired the road, celebrated Pchumben Day and lead the children to visit the historical dam and temples. As a result, our children live and grow well in a secure, safe, and healthy environment, and most of our kids moved forward to new grades in the new academic year of 2017. We also planted 154 lemon trees in our free land near the cafeteria.
On a sad note, however, one of our dear children, Houn Shithoeurng died in a motor cycle accident when he was sent to visit his hometown during Pchumben Day on the second of October at Kouk Khmum Village, ChomkarChek Commune, Chomkachek District, Banteaymeanchey Province.
Park Hyatt Siem Reap & LHA Sewing School (STS)
Looking at the Park Hyatt Siem Reap & LHA Sewing School, we had the successful operation of our 11th promotion which was run from February 2015 and ended in December 2015, marked by the holding of a graduation celebration. This was attended by Venerable Nal Chhum, Wat Damnak Leader and the Honourable President of LHA, Mr. Ourn Pov, the Siem Reap City Governor, representatives of the Department of Labor and Vocational Training, local authorities, company owners, shop managers, as well as parents and students. It was a very warm celebration. We gave each graduate a sewing machine and some sets of clothes as a ceremonial present.
This year, 2016, our school is still moving forward to serve young women in an effective means. The twelfth promotion is fruitful and running well and we are going to hold the graduation ceremony to congratulate our student’s success in January 2017. Beside this, we repainted the school building and reformed the curriculum for our students as well and made a more comfortable and secure living arrangement.
Fortunately we received a very generous fund from Go Campaign to build a boarding house for our Sewing Students which is built on the PAGE land. The building activities are going to end at the end of this year. The new students will be able to stay in this house.
Buddhism in Society Program (BSP)
In 2016, We built twenty peace houses for poor families in various communities of Siem Reap Province, held monthly moral education for the students at Somrong High School, Wat Damnak Primary School, Wat Demnak Learning Center, and the Teacher Training College for more than three thousand students.
It was also a year when we built twenty Peace Houses for the poorest families in various communities of Siem Reap. Finally, we offered emergency relief seven times to families in the most difficult situations.
Seal of Love Scholarship and Leadership Training Program (SLSLTP)
Finally to our Seal of Love Scholarship and Leadership Training Program. In 2016, we provided seven university scholarships to young monks to attend the universities in Siem Reap Province such as Build Bright University (BBU), University of South-East Asia(USEA), and Pagnasasra University of Cambodia(PUC). This year, there are three scholarship monks who graduated their in Bachelor Degree from Build Bright University in Public Administrative and English literature.
Our Leadership Training is being held in the mid of December. All scholarship monks are very active in social engagement such as taking part in Peace House Building, providing morality education, offering emergency food relief and also some office work.
In conclusion, we have once again served our communities and people, especially poor and vulnerable children, and young women and girls at risk. We help them to step into a new way of life that is better than the one they had before by means of compassionate love, care, and the opportunity to be educated. Thousands of children and women are served by our program and their lives have been totally changed. We are strongly committed to continuing our effort and concentrate more and more on serving our communities in the future.
On half of LHA, I would like to extend my gratefulness and thankfulness to all donors, sponsors, and friends who have always given us the amazing and generous support to ensure our works continue to help disadvantaged people – especially children and women at risk – and to improve their lives with stability, peace, and happiness. I wish you all success.
With peace and love,
Venerable Lorm Loeurm
Director | Life and Hope Association | Wat Damnak | Siem Reap | Cambodia
A Dhamma Talk on Vipassana and mindfulness meditation by Vipassana Gossalaya Jotannano Hong Keo, Vipassana Buddhist Master during a 10-Day Meditation & Vipassana Retreats at the Buddhist Meditation Center, Wat Kiryvongsa Bopharam on the 11th Waxing Moon – 7th Waning Moon of Jeṭṭha B.E.2560 equivalent to June 15 – 26, A.D.2016 in Leverett, Massachusetts, U.S.A. in 2016.
ក្រុងសាវត្ថី Sāvatthī or Śrāvastī
Vipassana chanting by Meditation Master Ketodhammo Som Bunthoeun. Footages from 2016 Vipassana classes at the Buddhist Meditation Center – Wat Kiryvongsa Bopharam in Leverett, Massachusetts, USA.
SAMDECH CHUON NATH
Khmer literature and Dhamma talk by His Holiness Jotannano Chuon Nath, the Supreme Patriarch of Cambodia Buddhism. His Holiness was born on March 11, 1883; passed away on September 25, 1969
MAHA GHOSANANDA SERVICES
Extraordinary Funeral and Memorial Services for His Holiness Samdech Dr. Maha Ghosananda