Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Hotel partnership enables NGO to supply trained staff

Hotel partnership enables NGO to supply trained staff

Hotel partnership enables NGO to supply trained staff

With the objective to provide young underprivileged people with professional training, French NGO Agir Pour Le Cambodge opened Sala Baï, a free hotel school based in Siem Reap, in 2002.

The association was looking for new job opportunities for young people hosted in its orphanage, before realising that tourism was the most promising sector and the city which houses Angkor Wat the best location to start a new project.  

The association began broadcasting spots on the radio and started recruiting 100 students each year from impoverished families with an annual income of under US$300 and willing to let their child study.  

It was also decided that Sala Baï would always give priority to girls. Today, they represent 70% of members.

“In the poorest families, they are the first to be sacrificed; being forced to drop out of school, to marry or even worse”, said Emmanuelle Dethomas, marketing and communication manager. “We are part of the levers to fight human being traffic.”   

During 11 months, students share their time between theory and practice learning service, cooking, housekeeping or front office duties.

Students, who are aged from 18 to 23, must have reached the 6th to 12th grade to enter the school and the 10th to 12th grade to learn front office skills.

They have to work hard from the very beginning, helped by their teachers, all coming from the professional sector. “We have to bring them up to the required standards as, on average, they dropped out of school for four years because their parents could no longer afford it,” Dethomas said.

To strengthen their skills, students are also asked to attend two internships of two months in two different hotels during the year.

Sala Baï has established partnerships with 19 hotels in the city and the trainees can definitely count on the support of the former students who now work there.

From mid-October to mid-July, the apprentices can also regularly face reality in the hotel and restaurant schools run by the association.

The restaurant only provides breakfasts and lunches during the week whereas the hotel, which has four rooms, only closes during Khmer New Year.

“Customers are very understanding. They know that our students are learning”, said Dethomas.

Once their training is complete, students spend a month with social workers looking for a job.

About 70 percent of them immediately find a position, while the others are supported until they find one.

“The aim is to give them basic skills. After, it is up to them - and to their boss - to work their way up the ladder depending on their will and abilities.”

The project, which is funded by private individuals and enterprise and private foundations for up to $300,000, has benefited about 3,500 people so far.

– Emilie Boulenger


  • Chinese influx pushing locals, Westerners out of Preah Sihanouk

    Some within the Kingdom’s tourism industry have speculated that the recent influx of Chinese visitors may hinder domestic tourism as the price of accommodations in the coastal city of Sihanoukville continues to rise. Preah Sihanouk province, which has become a hotbed for Chinese investment

  • ‘Dire consequences’ from sanctions, warns AmCham

    American businesspeople in Cambodia have warned that any sanction against the Kingdom would have “dire consequences” that could push Cambodia even further into the arms of China. In a letter to US senators and representatives dated Monday, the American Chamber of Commerce Cambodia (AmCham) said

  • CPP: ‘Behave or Sokha suffers’

    The ruling Cambodian People’s Party (CPP) spokesman warned Kem Monovithya on Thursday that her attempt to damage “national reputation and prestige” would lead to her father, Kem Sokha, receiving even harsher punishment. Sok Eysan issued the warning as Monovithya, who is the court dissolved

  • Preah Sihanouk beach developments halted

    After receiving an order from Hun Sen, Minister of Land Management Chea Sophara led a team of experts and relevant officials to Sihanoukville to call a halt to the illegal development of a beach. The prime minister ordered the Prek Treng beach in Otres commune