Tuol Kruos Community Development Project
Tuol Kruos is part of Oddar Meanchey Province in northwest Cambodia, close to the Thailand border. The local population of just under 700 relies mostly on subsistence farming and plantation work to survive.
This school project had 116 student beneficiaries between the ages of 6-14. I became aware of this new Cambodia school project opportunity through a Swiss NGO based in Thailand.
Urgent Need for Private Funding
Unfortunately, Cambodia has still not recovered from the decades of social instability that followed the 4 year reign of the Khmer Rouge. Although tourism is thriving in certain sections of Cambodia, it only offers local benefits. Therefore, isolated rural communities such as Tuol Kruos remain poverty stricken.
Additionally, the ruling administration of Cambodia is of little assistance to these impoverished communities in rural Cambodia. After reviewing the school prospectus and photos I was happy to step in to provide 100% of the funds for this project.
As a result, it was possible to begin construction of the school in September 2014 and the project was completed in February 2015.
Dilapidated State of the Previous School
Previously, the students attended class in a 2 room shanty with a rusty corrugated metal roof and dirt floor. During the dry season the dirt floor is very dusty and the floor turns into mud pits during the rainy season. This creates a health hazard and the children are often sick as a result.
Additionally, the classrooms had very little natural light and learning in this environment would seem nearly impossible. The conditions of the previous school building were extremely poor. In the US, conditions such as these would be deemed unsanitary for even farm animals.
It was obvious that the severe overcrowding, inadequate facilities and unsanitary conditions would make it impossible to continue teaching 116 students in this building.
Implementation of the Tuol Kruos School Project
Community involvement is a crucial element in efficiently implementing a new school in the local community. Therefore, it would be a joint effort with me providing the funds. However, the Tuol Kruos community and the Cambodian government would play a significant role.
- The community prepared the grounds for the foundation, secured the storage of construction materials and will also build a fence around the school after completion.
- We provide the concrete school building with 4 classrooms, 2 toilets and also school furniture.
- The Cambodia government contributes by training the teachers and paying their salaries, providing learning materials and the school curriculum.
As a result of the joint effort the project was rated a low risk development and it was completed on schedule.
Completed Tuol Kruos School Building
Tuol Kruos School Opening Ceremony
Unfortunately, I was not able to attend the opening ceremony in Tuol Kruos. Although a representative from the Swiss NGO appeared and accepted the awards on my behalf.
I have attended a couple of my other school opening ceremonies and they are certainly a worthwhile experience. It is a great opportunity for the donor to appreciate the magnitude of their contribution. The teachers, many students, some parents and local politicians are all in attendance. In addition, the donor can take the opportunity to tour the new school building.
Incentives for the Tuol Kruos Students
It is not very easy for the students from the surrounding villages to attend the school opening ceremony. This is mainly due to rural logistics issues that those of us from developed countries take for granted. For example, kids in the US or Europe would attend an opening ceremony because their parents have a car and they drive them there. Not so in rural Cambodia!
Therefore, as part of the school funding we include a little extra for these new school packs. The kids cherish them and we give one to each student who attends the school opening ceremony. As you can see this is a very effective!
Tuol Kruos was my 2nd school project in Cambodia. These SE Asia community development projects foster a sense of community development and ownership. Successful projects are very beneficial to the local community and surrounding area. The local children finally have a clean safe place to attend school for many years to come.
I also funded two SE Asia Community Development Projects in Laos of similar magnitude. The new school projects are also very rewarding for the donor because it is a tangible structure which can be physically appreciated after completion.
Additional Photographs of the Opening Ceremony