Late in 2010, SCCFA commenced negotiations with Pailin authorities to have access to some land in Sala Krau district.
By early 2011 a two- hectare block of land had been designated for a 6-room school, with 2 toilets, male and female, and a hand - pumped water well in Tumnop village of Sala Krao district, where around 370 families, with 700 school aged children, live.
As a preliminary project to the construction of the school, it had already built water pump with funds donated by the Rotary Club of Bentleigh and Moorabbin Central, in Victoria, which now provides clean and safe drinking water to this impoverished community.
SCCFA funded school in Pailin equipped with two-room latrine and water pump was officially opened on 14 January 2014, with more than 400 children, their parents/grand-parents and local authorities present together with dozens of committee members and donors from Australia.
Throughout the opening donors were also distributing gift packs consisting of notebook, pen, pencil and 5000 riels (A$1.50) to students and a sarong each to their parents/grand-parents, as well.
The deputy governor of Pailin , Mr Koeuth Sothea, thanked Australian donors for the three-room school building construction and urged parents to encourage their children to go to school.
In her address to the parents and students,Leviseda Bun Douglas, co-founder, of the Save Cambodian Children Fund Australia, explained that education is the most effective weapon for combating poverty and exploitation. "Once they are educated, they can use their knowledge to improve their lives and make informed decisions, " she said.
SCCFA received financial support from local Australians and Cambodian communities in Australia, as well local businesses, to enable the dream of these children being able to learn to become a reality. St Michael’s Uniting Church in Melbourne has been very supportive to SCCFA’s work following a successful fund-raising concert performed by the Choir of Trinity College, in 2010. Lim’s Pharmacy in Springvale, Victoria has also been another strong supporter of SCCFA’s cause, not just financially, by also morally.
Leviseda Bun Douglas says, "these children did not choose to be poor and uneducated, they were not given a choice or the opportunity. Building a school is the first step towards fulfilling the dream of many people in Sala Krau district, which also fits into SCCFA’s goal: to empower marginalised children through education.
Australian's Ambassador to Cambodia, Ms Alison Burrows, wished the school every success. "I think it's a terrific model of engagement in Cambodia by the Australian and Cambodian community in Australia."
The Save Cambodian Children Fund chose the remote, north-western Tumnop village of Sala Krao district in Pailin, due to its lack of school facilities which requires nearly 50% of school aged children to stay at home, or to join the workforce, in order to support their family's basic needs. Moreover, the General Population Census of Cambodia, in 2008, indicates that the annual rural population growth rate for Pailin is 13.37%, the highest in Cambodia, while remaining one of the poorest provinces in the country.
Saruon Khuon, Chair of the SCCFA thanked all donors who made the self funded trip to attend this milestone event, demonstrating the good cooperation between local authorities with donors.
Save Cambodian Children Fund Australia (SCCFA)