EARLIER this year, Piseth Luon registered his Bright Children Org-anisation as an NGO in Cambodia. On July 21, another milestone in his continuing work to break the cycle of poverty through the medium of education was achieved with the official opening of the Mkak Village Primary School.
The school was in fact founded in 2004 by Luon Piseth, who was brought up in the village and whose family still lives there.
When the school opened its doors seven years ago, there were 100 students and two teachers. There are now 160 children and an additional teacher.
The official opening and ongoing success of the school was particularly poignant and uplifting for the Melbourne, Australia-based, not-for-profit charitable organisation Humanitus, whose aim is to empower indigenous communities and individuals through the development of educational opportunities.
Humanitus has been working with Piseth Luon and his school for the past three years, and has committed to continue helping and supporting them.
It has done much in that time to make a difference to the development of the school by funding the building of five toilets, a water tank, a tank tower and pump, as well as assisting with some of the costs involved in holding the opening ceremony.
Humanitas has many plans including, but not limited to, raising and accessing funds for a health and dental-care program, water filtration equipment and accommodation for volunteers.
Humanitus executive director and founder Jeffery Richards, who is based in Melbourne, and Southeast Asian director of the foundation Angus Carnegie were among those at the opening ceremony during their 10-day journey to the Kingdom that included visiting other schools and an orphanage, delivering supplies, equipment and disbursing funds for them.
They were joined at the opening ceremony of the Mkak School, in Siem Reap province, by a list of dignitaries that included Siem Reap province governor HE Sou Phirin; Leav Ora, director of the Siem Reap Provincial Teacher Training College; Piseth Luon, founder of the Bright Children Organisation; and Sandra Green, who founded the New Zealand charity Kids for Cambodia.
“I have always been inspired by Khmers making a difference to the lives of their fellow people, and it’s great to see a local person like Piseth Luon making a difference through education,” said Richards, who was also presented with a medal for service to the people of Cambodia at the opening ceremony.
“He is very passionate about helping out his people break the cycle of poverty and have a brighter future. He’s a refreshingly honest person, and we know the money we disburse goes to the areas that it should.
“This was witnessed and confirmed on our latest visit, and it was humbling to see the difference our contributions thus far have made. I am personally committed to raising the profile of his NGO and looking at ways of funding the school through international aid such as AUSAID.
“Piseth Luon is a positive role model not only for the children of the area but for the adults as well.”
Following closely on the steps of the two Humanitas international directors to Cambodia will be Christine Gilliand, a respected member of the staff at Melbourne’s Xavier College and head of the Victorian Network of Primary Years Programme (PYP), which is a generous supporter of Humanitus.
While she is in Phnom Penh, Gilliand will visit Denzel Sprague’s Pichey Rangsey School and SFODA Orphanage. Staff members and Year 3 students at Xavier College have been busy fundraising and collecting resources for Gilliand to deliver while she is in Cambodia.
The Humanitus Foundation works alongside many agencies, NGOs, CBOs, Government ministries, education providers and industry experts, and its current focus is in the Southeast Asian region.
It has key team and board members in Germany, Sumatra and Cambodia and, with key personnel based in Southeast Asia, it knows it can ensure funds raised are disbursed directly to the recipient schools and orphanages.