August 2018 HVTO Newsletter
Summary: A great deal has happened within HVTO since our last newsletter, including the completion of two upgrades to school facilities. We have three new university graduates and 15 high school seniors taking their final examinations on 20-21 August. Work continues apace with A Drop of Life (ADOL) in the Clean Water Project with the completion of their 1,416th well and a commitment for the drilling of an additional 500 through the end of the year. Finally, HVTO will celebrate its 10-year anniversary, and a decade of success, with a party at the school on 28-August.
In 2012 the Seal of Love Charitable Foundation (Hong Kong) provided funds for the construction of the original HVTO school building and the land on which it was built. Recently they funded the construction of a school wall and repairs to the southeastern corner of the school building. The wall completely encloses the facility, which keeps out wandering animals.  Jenni Townsend also very generously provided funds for the installation of a tile patio that has created much cleaner classrooms, especially in the rainy season. All of these projects are now complete. See below.
The original entrance of the HVTO Center
The new entrance of the HVTO Center
The corner of the school building subsided because it was built over a former pond
The repaired corner of the school showing the tile patio and a new coat of paint
SIGHT (Student Innovation for Global Health Technology), is a group based in Hong Kong. After evaluating water and health issues in the village they held soap-making classes for adults and taught children how to stay healthy by keeping themselves clean. In addition to their teaching responsibilities, university students Sras O and Dy Mi (pictured later in the newsletter) volunteer with this project. In concert with SIGHT’s recommendations, Hongik University (Seoul, South Korea) installed a hand-washing station in the school yard for the HVTO students. See below. 
The day-to-day expenses required for running the HVTO facilities are provided by the Studiosus Foundation and Viking Cruises. These organizations are also the largest source of volunteers coming to the village to help in education. These mostly former tourists bring a perspective of the outside world that our students can get in no other way. Thank you Studiosus and Viking Cruises for your unflagging support in maintaining our core programs.
HVTO now has 480 students coming to learn English and computer skills at the school each week. In our ongoing effort to keep teaching and administrative costs to a minimum, as well as become more self-sustaining, a decision was made at the beginning of the year to reorganize HVTO. This has involved the hiring of select university students as part-time administrators and teachers. In addition, all staff, with the exception of Headmaster Ine Un, have been reduced to part-time positions. This change, which includes Sim Piseth (HVTO Founder) and Meng Seaknam (HVTO General Manager), has taken six months to implement. Keo Kimsang and Ky Sarana, who were formally full-time staff, have left HVTO to earn more money as an ABA Bank IT Specialist and an accountant for a tour company. We wish them every success.
Below are photographs of the HVTO staff responsible for student oversight and education.
Ine Un, (sponsored by Simon and Ranjeeta Johnson) is the Headmaster of the HVTO School
Lorn Phounam (sponsored by Thomas Barkemeier) administers HVTO university students and sponsorships.
Ine Oeng (sponsored by the Cokkonis Estate) administers HVTO public school students and sponsorships.
Dan Dav (sponsored by Simon and Ranjeeta Johnson) and Dy Mi (sponsored by the Cokkonis Estate) are part-time English teachers.
Sras O (sponsored by James Stonham and Patti Baker) is also a part-time English teacher.
To supplement our student teachers with professionals three public school teachers that live near the school have also been hired part time. These include Hou Chanthy (English), Look Serey (English), and No Vann (Computer).  
Look Serey and Hou Chanthy are part-time HVTO English teachers.
No Vann is the new HVTO Computer teacher.
HVTO paid students and professionals are also supplemented by student volunteers. These volunteers consist of university students traveling from Siem Reap to teach advanced English classes and high school students teaching beginning classes. These student volunteers typically average 6 hours of teaching per month and they prove the adage that – ‘As you teach you learn’.
Since the last newsletter 30 new students have received sponsorships, bringing us to a total of 222 that have been a part of the HVTO educational program since its inception in 2011. We now have 14 graduates working in various professions, 178 active, under-graduate students, and 28 students that have withdrawn from the program. Most of the students that withdrew took advantage of the recent government program dramatically increasing pay for public school teachers. Please refer to our previous newsletter for more details.
A notable student who dropped from the HVTO program for an entirely different reason is Seak Srey Ros, who was sponsored by Marianne Kipper. Srey Ros from the beginning wanted to pursue a career in the medical field. She has now completed her training and passed the exam to become a medic in the Cambodian Army, where she is now serving.
The annual high school equivalency examination in Cambodia, which is a pre-requisite for beginning university, will take place this year on August 20-21. Please refer to the previous newsletter for a more complete discussion concerning this ‘rite of passage’. HVTO has a total of 15 students taking the test this year. The addition of these seniors to our university roster means that HVTO will have over 80 university students pursuing either 4 or 5-year degree programs in Siem Reap in the coming school year.
Because of the ages and sponsorship dates of our early students, HVTO added only three additional university graduates in 2018. However, as the graph below demonstrates, even with normal attrition, we should roughly double our total number of graduates by 2019 and nearly double it again in 2020. See below.
The distribution of career paths for the active and graduated (employed) HVTO sponsored students continues to show a marked preference for Education. See below. Note that this number still excludes students that have left the program in order to become public-school teachers. This is encouraging, as events with the Khmer Rouge forced Cambodia to rebuild this foundation of society virtually from scratch. The category ‘Professional’ here includes Science, Engineering, Legal, IT, Journalism etc.
Graduate News
  • Meng Seaklin (2014), who was sponsored by Simon and Ranjeeta Johnson, is the sister of Seaknam (below). She recently became the accountant in Siem Reap for the Halo Trust – an international NGO focused on the removal of landmines in Cambodia.
  • Meng Seaknam (2016), who was sponsored by Friends From Oklahoma, secured a position as Sales Supervisor for RMA Cambodia, a German-owned equipment importing company. A flexible schedule in this position allows him to continue to act as the HVTO General Manager during his free time. Seaknam was recently married and he and his wife are expecting their first child (a boy) in late November.
  • Chhea Sokim (2016), who is sponsored by Roxy Wells, teaches at the Smart Kids International School in Siem Reap. Her profession is teaching, but her passion is bird watching. In January she went on a birding trip to Malaysia, met and fell in love with Katsushi Sunouchi, to whom she will be married in a Khmer ceremony in Siem Reap in December. The couple will make their permanent home in Hokkaido, Japan.
  • Ine Oeng (2018), who was sponsored by the Cokkonis Estate, works days as a receptionist at the Mane Village Hotel and is a part-time HVTO administrator. He also tutors English students in Siem Reap in the evenings, and on his one day off per week volunteers at the HVTO School.
  • Hoeurm Chhay (2018), who was sponsored by the Cokkonis Estate, passed the examination necessary to receive a license from the Cambodian Ministry of Tourism. He now works as a Spanish-speaking tour guide.
  • Likewise, Hoeurm Chhang (2018), who was sponsored by Barbara Foster and is the brother of Chhay, passed the same exam and now works as a Thai-speaking tour guide. Clearly the Hoeurm family has a knack for languages.
Other News
Yin Srey Mao (pictured below), who is sponsored by Friends From Oklahoma, just completed her second year at USEA preparing for a career in IT. She was thrilled by recently being promoted in her job at the Tourism Ministry, which involves the analysis of tourist data. In an incredibly selfless act, she told HVTO that because she is now making enough money to meet her needs, she no longer needs her sponsorship money and has asked that her remaining money be given to someone more in need. Her funding will now be transferred to Pruon Voeun, a financially strapped young man who is studying to become an English teach in his first year at USEA.
Another of our students, Moeung Kunthea (sponsored by Merlin Miller) deserves special kudos. She has become a full-time public-school teacher working at the Sophy Elementary School in the village from 7 AM until 5 PM. Kunthea however has stayed in university and comes back to Siem Reap for classes from 6 through 9 PM. With this brutal 6 day per week schedule, which involves a round-trip between the city and the village each day, she is studying to become an English teacher and has one year left at Build Bright University. You’ll recall from previous newsletters that in high school she was volunteer-teaching younger children from her parent’s home in the village. If anyone embodies the spirit of HVTO, it is Srey Mao and Kunthea.
As our students mature, graduates are not the only ones moving forward in life. In the last year seven of our university students were promoted in their jobs, most in administrative positions at local hotels. In addition, to date we have 14 active and past students, both graduate and under-graduate, that have either married or are now engaged to be married. Of these 10 either have had babies or have babies on the way.
Megan Allen, who is associated with Friends From Oklahoma, is our latest volunteer teacher at the HVTO School. Megan has been teaching elementary school in Norman, Oklahoma for the last seven years and has recorded two videos that can be reached on these links:
Megan Allen teaching English at the HVTO School
In addition to giving expert English instruction at the school, Megan was also able to talk with many of our university students in the city one-on-one. She prepared a presentation showing her school, students, and their activities.  If you have been keeping up with the news, being from Oklahoma, she was able to demonstrate first-hand that educational challenges exist everywhere.
An improvised screen at a Siem Reap restaurant provided Megan the perfect venue for a free-wheeling comparison of two very different cultures
A spectacular development in the Clean Water Project came in early 2016. A Hong Kong NGO, ‘A Drop of Life’ (ADOL), approached HVTO to determine the number of families unable to afford the wells necessary to provide clean water around our core area in Kontreang Commune. ADOL has clean water projects in Cambodia, China, Nepal and Hong Kong, and their core objective is to bring clean water to people in need. After a great deal of due diligence concerning the drilling and operational techniques used by HVTO, and much interaction with village, commune and other community leaders, it was determined that a total of approximately 4,000 (3,980) wells were needed. Please read our previous newsletter for additional details.
HVTO drillers are now working some distance from our core area (see map below), and to date have drilled over 45.6 kilometers completing 1,858 wells. In total these wells have brought clean water to over 9,800 people in rural Cambodia that would otherwise have no access. Thus far in 2018 we have drilled 617 wells, 600 of these through ADOL. Special mention must continue to go to one of HVTO’s most stalwart supporters in the drilling of water wells - Rosemere High School in Quebec, Canada. Now led by Deborah Adams and Wendy Haas, through their efforts and their predecessor’s, over the past five years they have funded the drilling of 82 wells, 12 of these in 2018.  
Map showing HVTO water well drilling
To better read well numbers and commune names please zoom in.
In the step-wise process utilized by ADOL they have indicated they are prepared to fund at least an additional 2,500 wells over the next 2 years, with 500 of these to be drilled before the end of the year. This will bring the 2018 total to about 1,100 wells. Obviously, the ADOL water well drilling project is beyond anything that could have been foreseen, but our drillers have been up to the challenge. To accommodate ADOL requirements the HVTO drilling organization has expanded to five team leaders that are expert drillers under whom are eight drilling crews. Each crew is composed of four experienced workers who are augmented by labor recruited from the area in which the wells are being drilled. For the eight drilling crews this amounts to about 20 local men. In total there are roughly 37 HVTO men and 20 local men working in some capacity drilling wells. Although at any given time fewer men are working, because we are drilling wells 7 days a week, and the work itself is grueling, the extra hands are necessary to keep operations moving forward continuously. With such a large operation we work hand in hand with the local civil and law enforcement authorities to ensure that the wells go to the neediest families and that the community contacts are all local men.
Never forget, HVTO remains committed to drilling water wells for smaller sponsors as we always have in the past. So, if you would like to donate funds for the drilling of water wells, please do not let the magnitude of the ADOL project dissuade you.
Chhung Chhaiy, an HVTO driller, drilling a well
After completion of the 600th well in the first 6 months of 2018, an unparalleled feat for HVTO, ADOL and HVTO management decided it would be appropriate to reward the drillers with a first-class party. Complete with Commune Chiefs, Village Head Men, and a Police Chief, a good time was had by all.
A group of happy HVTO water well drillers celebrating their hard-earned milestone
Having seen our work first-hand, Viking and Studiosus tour groups are HVTO’s main source of support. Living all over the world, with the aid of modern technology, these former guests not only help financially, but also provide administrative assistance. This has been a great help to our founder Sim Piseth who, in addition to his many HVTO responsibilities, is a full-time tour guide that must be away for extended periods of time.
Patti Baker, a former Viking guest, is the President of Homestay Teachers Volunteer Organization, Inc., a 501c3 (charitable) organization incorporated in Florida to provide tax relief to US citizens that fund HVTO in Cambodia. This NGO simplifies money transfers and provides a vehicle for access to larger grants that can have a major impact on reaching goals. There is much to do and we are still in need of volunteers, so if you are interested, all that’s needed is access to a computer and the ability to use the internet. To learn more please visit the website at: or call Patti directly at 239-682-0067.
We are continually updating our newsletter and e-mail distribution, so if you have any friends or family that would like to be included in our distribution list, please let us know. Unfortunately, newsletters sometimes end up going into Spam folders, so if you know of someone that has not been receiving these, please have them check this.
If you would like to provide HVTO with financial help, here is a brief cost summary:
Water wells:
$230 (A plaque is an additional $30)
Donors receive a photograph of the completed well with information on the name, size and location of the family for whom the well was drilled.
Below are the all-inclusive costs for student sponsorship.
Grades 1-9:           $270 per year
Grades 10-12:       $400 per year
University:            $620 per year
The HVTO School is a place for much more than work
Again, thank you for reading about our continuing story and we hope that you share our pride in HVTO’s continued progress.
Sim Piseth                                                                                      Seaknam Meng
HVTO Founder                                                                          HVTO General Manager
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