Year end 2015 HVTO Newsletter
Summary: HVTO made incredible headway in 2015. Utilizing the existing school and the new Viking-funded building, 750 children are enrolled for free supplemental education programs. Exceeding expectations, 41 students have been selected for sponsorships which makes a total of 151. One of the outstanding sponsored students has been recruited to help with administration. We saved one life! A girl was very sick with heart problem. She would have died without generous aid from her sponsors, Mr. Virgil Johnson and Mrs. Ruth Johnson from USA. The dormitory for university-students is still open with new bunk-beds due to generous support from many friends via HTVO-USA. Having installed 55 water pumps for needy families in two different villages, donated by former Viking guests and Holy Cross Youth, Rosemere - Canada. Since 2008, HVTO has installed a total of 399 water pumps. Viking and Studiosus are HVTO main source of support for the 8 HVTO projects and we remain strong.
The existing school and new building, with an expansion of land, generously donated by Viking Cruises has allowed HVTO to operate supplemental education programs such as introductory English classes, computer training and a library for 750 children in the healthier and friendlier conditions. In the new building there are 6 rooms. 3 underneath are used as English classrooms, one on top to the left is a computer lab, another room to the right is an office and the open room in the middle is for meetings and presentations. There is a big area in front of the building that serves as a playground for the kids.
HVTO center is not an orphanage but it is an educational center for all kids. It operates three shifts in the morning from 7.00am to 11.00am; in the afternoon from 2.00pm to 5.00pm and in the evening from 6.00pm to 8.00pm. Children from surrounding villages come to the center only for one or two hours daily from Monday to Saturday for English or computer lessons or for reading books in the library.
( in the meeting room, Seaknam MENG, HVTO general manager and Un INE, HVTO school master are meeting with parents of the university's sponsored students)
In Cambodia, children have a half-day of schooling. Some go in the morning and are free in the afternoon or vice versa. Some poor children help parents or their parents need them to work for extra income when they do not study in the public schools whereas many rich kids go to private schools. We encourage any kids to come to receive English and computer lessons when they are free from work or studies because they do not have that in public schools.
How can HVTO provide free classes to hundreds of children at low cost? Here is a way we manage: Seaknam MENG, HVTO general manager, and Un INE, a school master, together do the lesson plans for teaching to children in different levels, ages and grades. Un INE is responsible to teach the senior students who mostly come to study in the evening. Out of 151 sponsored students, 60 were chosen for intensive training to teach and help other younger children. In addition, 23 students who moved into the dormitory in Siem Reap are taking turns to assist too. One of the conditions put on sponsored students is to help others at the school whilst under sponsorships. Therefore, we are having 63+ teachers to teach those children.
This program really makes a direct tangible change to a person’s life. In 2015, we received 41 sponsorships for deserving children. LNR TRUST REG, our ardent sponsor from Vaduz, has just provided other 20 sponsorships which make a total of 50 from them alone.
HVTO is grateful to all donors who help make this program successful and effective for life-changing of young people in the community. To date we have 151 sponsored students.
We have used three criteria to select children from the community to receive sponsorships provided by sponsors from all over the world. Senior students judged by their grades, good attitude and participation are selected to waitlist for sponsorships. We also follow recommendations from the community committee to help certain children they know who are deserving. However, we happily choose the students depending on the requests or preferences of donors too.
As long as we receive support from donors, HVTO is committed to expand this program to as many children who deserve as possible. By providing sponsorships to students we provide long term support with which they can receive a remarkable education.
Profoundest gratitude to Mr. Virgil Johnson and Mrs. Ruth Johnson.
In early 2015, Virgil and Ruth Johnson travelled with Viking to Cambodia. They joined a side-trip to visit the village. They were very impressed with HVTO School and met a girl named Thav Serey, who wanted to be a lawyer. After returning home, the Johnson’s decided to sponsor her for education. Unfortunately, she fell seriously sick after 6 months of receiving sponsorship. She was sent to different hospitals and finally she needed heart surgery that cost a lot of money. Even though her parents had sold their rice-field and cows, they would not have had enough money for the surgery. Our team decided to report this to her sponsors who generously covered all expenses. The surgery was successful and Thav Serey was saved. She would have died without support from this family. Mr. and Mrs. Johnson, in the name of the Thav Serey family, we thank you so much for your kindest generosity.
Mr. Robin Walker from Toronto, Canada, returned to visit HVTO in December 2015
In December 2015, Mr. Robin Walker came to visit us in the community. We wanted to give you a short review over the milestone evolution of our humanitarian activities in which we are involved. 10 years ago, Mr. Robin Walker travelled to Cambodia. We met as a guest and a guide. Later, he has become an ardent sponsor paving my way to be an official tour guide.
After being self sustainable, Seaknam Meng was also inspired by our conception both for his higher education and charity activities. He has done a great job in the passing years. As the result, Un INE, a student of Seaknam, learned good English and became a teacher. Last year, he graduated from University under sponsorship from Mr. and Mrs. Simon Johnson. Now he is an HVTO School master. In addition to that, Keo Kimsang was taken into our team and he has just graduated from University specializing IT funded by Mr. Lawrence Chan from Hong Kong.
In summary, Robin helped me (Sim Piseth) and I helped Seaknam, Seaknam helped Un. Kimsang hopped in. We helped them and others. Then HVTO was formed and grew as a core snowball. Now we are teachers teaching others to teach others. We are so happy to see hundreds of people are receiving benefits from our activities embodied in 8 different projects. Thank you so much, Robin, for such wonderful help. We are always grateful to you. Our snowball keeps rolling!
Robin said that "Every year I visit my son and his family in Shenzhen, China.This year I decided to take a side trip to SR with my daughter-in-law Qiao Zhen ( Michelle ) to visit HVTO. We had some good meetings and I was able to visit the dorm and the two schools.My last visit was over 3 years ago so what a pleasant surprise to see all these new buildings Since that time HVTO has made tremendous progress.Two new schools have been built, a large number of students have been sponsored, more than 350 water pumps have been installed and a dorm has been set up for university students. The senior students are helping with the teaching.HVTO now has more help with the accounting and one of the university students Phounam is going to keep track of the student sponsorships. Congratulations to Sim, Seaknam,,Un, & Kimsang for making HVTO such a hugh success. "
Robin D. Walker, Q.C.
( Photo from left to right: Mr. Kimsang KEO, a computer teacher; Mr. Un INE, a school master and teacher; Mr. Robin Walker, HVTO cofounder from Canada; Sim Piseth, HVTO Founder from Cambodia, Mrs. Michelle from China and Mr. Seaknam MENG, HVTO general manager)
A new member
(Phounam is working in HVTO office )
HVTO develops dramatically from year to year. There is lots of work for us to manage because it relates to different local and international fields. We are now well organized with accounting and bookkeeping by Ky Sarana, with double-major degrees, English and accounting, who was recruited into HVTO in June 2015. However, still she has many thing to learn within HVTO.
Specifically, Keeping tracks of those students and reports to their sponsors have always been critical. In order to improve this area of work, we decided to take Ms. Loun Phounam, an outgoing person, into our team. Phounam started learning English with us in 2008 when she was 10. Now she is 19 and sponsored by Mr. Thomas Bakenmeier, who is a tour leader of Studiosus, and his family from Canada. Phounam was one of the three girls of HVTO who met with the First Lady Mrs. Michelle Barack Obama in November 2015 in Siem Reap.
She follows up and reports about sponsored students to general manager or to sponsors. We tend to use our own resources and show to other students that she is giving back to the community. She says that, she is happy to work with HVTO to help as much as she can and to show her gratefulness for having helped her so far. Please join me to welcome Ms. Loun Phounam to HVTO family.
HVTO has rented a home in Siem Reap since late 2014 that is now being utilized as a dormitory and as the HVTO office. We are accommodating 23 students who moved from villages to Siem Reap to study in the university. We are heartedly grateful to two organizations, SPARKS led by Mr. Ross King in Salt Spring Island in Canada and HTVO-USA led by Ms. Patti Baker and many other sponsors listed below who funded the 2015-budget.
The 23 students who stay in the dormitory and use the facilities are spontaneously joined into the work-study program. Funds from sponsors only cover the university fees, so they have to work in different places nighttime or daytime and they study hard at other times. Luckily, all HVTO students can easily find jobs after moving to Siem Reap thanks to their competences in English and computer skills. Money earned from jobs helps cover living allowances, school materials and social needs.
By having seen the improvement of students in the dormitory from last year, HVTO has determined to make a policy that a student can stay in the dorm for only one year. It is a year of introduction to life in town. After a year of staying, the student is able to support himself by using money from jobs for room rent and living expenses whereas the sponsorship still continues until his graduation.
On the other hand, students go back to the villages to help teach in the center on their day-off. In order to help with the transportation, HVTO used funds from LNR TRUST REG to buy a 3-wheel motor to take the students from the dormitory to HVTO center back and forth every day. We see that, this program provides a big benefit for everyone.
(Students are riding a 3-wheel-motor from Siem Reap to teach in the HVTO center )
Ms. Patti Baker and Ms. Pippa Woods have also recently been fundraising to buy bunk-beds for students who used to sleep on the mats or mattresses spread on the floor in the dormitory. Now everyone is extremely excited to have bunk-beds to sleep on. In addition to thanks from Patti, HVTO would also like to provide our profoundest thanks to the following donors who have donated moneys to fund the dormitory since its inception in late 2014. We will never forget your assistance.
- Ms. Patti Baker
- Joann Boze
- Members of Book Club
- Judy Rutherford
- Pam Davis
- Denise Merello
- Janny Pastore
- Roxy Wells
- Dan Boyd (FFO)
- Larry & Frances River
- Catherine Wallace
- Jim Vincent
- Mr. Ross King (SPARKS)
- TRUST FUND (PEWT)
- Ms. Pippa woods
- Mrs. Susan and Mr. Vijay Aggarwal
- Ed Selden
- Mr. Virgil and Mrs. Ruth Johnson
- Deborah Hilliard
- Mr. James Stonham
- Mr. Steve Wilson
- Hankyu Suk
- Ed Shelton
(Pictures of bunk-beds for our student inside the dormitory)
We wish to have funds to maintain the dormitory for the following years, so that we can help the next generation. Next year, we see another 23 students coming from the village to the city. For this second year 2016, we should have roughly enough funds to keep the dorm open. However, HVTO might be financially struggling to keep the dormitory for the next following years. It cost us over $25,000 yearly to keep it. Ms. Patti Baker, the president of HTVO-USA with her team are fundraising in USA and simplify the money transfer to HVTO. Anyone who is interested to help with this project, please contact her. Her address is mentioned in the section “Support from USA”
Clean Water Project:
2015 we have installed 55 water pumps. Since 2008 HVTO has provided a total of 399 water wells to rural Cambodian families that would not otherwise be able to afford clean water. We have completed all 12 villages in Kontreang and Knar Pur Communes by bringing clean water to nearly 3,500 people. We have just completed the installation for needy families in Chhup Village and now we are moving to Phum Bos which is a neighboring village.
We would like to take this opportunity to say thank you so much to the Holy Cross Youth Group, Rosemere, Canada led by Angelo Placentino. We could have installed 10 pumps with funds of this group. We are informed that this group has heard about the HVTO clean water project from our ardent sponsors Mrs. Germaine Artiss Mrs. Maria Scotti of Rosemere High School who have been a support of HVTO. In the name of all the families, we express our profoundest thanks to all members of Holy Cross Youth Group for your kindest support.
Acknowledgements and Thank you:
We must express our greatest gratitude to the following people and institutions who generously supported HVTO clean water project in 2015. Without your help, we could hardly achieve such an amazing success for our people in the community.
- Charities Aids Foundation ( CAF) for 5 water pumps
- Debra Geral Sayres via HTVO-USA for 1 pump
- Kim Butler via HTVO-USA for 1 pump
- Francis Boulay for 1 pump
- Mike and Sandy Effer for 2 pump
- Alain and Sandra for 1 pump
- Day Dominy for 2 pumps
- Claire Mclean for 2 pumps
- Seng Kaing for 2 pumps
- Ursula Christie for 1 pump
- Malik Mustafa family for 2 pumps
- Diana for 1 pump
- Rosemere High School for 12 pumps
- Mr. Sarp Özkar for 10 pumps
- Betty & Larry Giroir for 1 pump
- Holy Cross Group led by Angelo Placentino for 10 pumps
By having seen that the people who received clean water from us have improved their health and lives, we are committed to continue and support other people who are asking and waiting for our help in the future.
This is to inform you that majority of Cambodian people live in rural areas that lack even bare necessities, primary among these - access to clean drinking water. Unsafe drinking water and poor sanitation are the main cause of illness and high rates of infant mortality. To address this need HVTO pays for the installation of hand water pumps to families that cannot afford them.
Support from USA
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, 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 who 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.
Anyone who is interested in supporting HVTO from USA, please contact Ms. Patti Baker below:
Postal address: Homestay Teachers Volunteer Organization, Inc,
a Florida 501c3 corporation.
P O Box 07072 Fort Myers, Florida. 33919
Support from UK
Sending donations from the UK is a costly and time consuming process either via bank or Western Union money transfer.
To address this issue, Mr. and Mrs. Simon Johnson investigated the possibility of registering HVTO as a UK charity, but discovered that it's a very difficult. Instead they asked Mark Purser, of Camkids if he knew of an alternative way to collect and disperse contributions.
Camkids have been working with children in Cambodia and are registered in the UK (Charity registration no: 1116862). To our delight Mark suggested that Camkids would be willing to help HVTO.
Briefly put, all HVTO UK contributions and Paypal donations are made to HVTO via Camkids. These donations are allocated to a separate costs centre allocated to HVTO. This allows donation from most UK individual taxpayers to reclaim an additional 28% in Gift Aid from the UK Government. These accumulated funds are disbursed to HVTO, in USD from the CamKids Cambodian account, at the end of every calendar quarter.
Contact Mr. Simon Johnson if you want to support HVTO from UK
Mr. Simon Johnson
We are continually updating our newsletter 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:
$200 (A plaque is an additional $25.)
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: $550 per year
If you are interested in providing a sponsorship to a student, we have a list of deserving candidates that we can send from which you can choose.
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