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CAMBODIA: Primary School for Isolated Island Village

Koh Rumdual is a small island located 25km south of the capital, Phnom Penh. Nearly 100 poor families, consisting of widows, the handicapped and their children were placed on this island by the Ministry of Social Affairs in order to get them off the streets. Each family was given a small plot of land to build a tiny hut and grow produce. However, with no education or means to produce income, dire poverty was the norm and survival by any means became their primary goal.

FCF project partner Cornerstone has been working to improve the quality of life for the underprivileged in Cambodia since 1999. In 2005, they began assisting this neglected island community—now grown to over 350 inhabitants—with food, clothes and basic medical supplies. In response to the dire educational need, what began as a makeshift classroom for a handful of students under a wooden hut’s awning became a large, two-storied kindergarten and elementary school for nearly 60 children, built on land purchased through a grant from Family Care Foundation.

The only school on the island, it offers grades K-3 with free lunch, for children as old as 12 years old who never attended school before. It also features a library, storage rooms, kitchen and dining area, lavatories, a massive water tank, children’s playground and volunteer dormitories. The finishing touches were completed in early 2012 with the installation of solar panels, providing the school with electricity—otherwise non-existent on the island.

A Vocational Training and Community Center is currently being built on land directly in front of the school, purchased with another FCF grant. It will offer craft-making and marketing training for widows and poor villagers, as well as recreational facilities for the entire community.