We first learned about Ponheary in 2004 and started making contributions. In 2006 we met with Ponheary and went to one of the schools to make bike and teacher bonus presentations. Last month, my 23 yr old daughter and I spent two weeks in Siem Reap volunteering with the PLF. We got to see Ponheary and Lori Carlson in action up close and it was very impressive. One day we drove out to Koh Ker school (3 hours from Siem Reap) to make a lunch for the kids, while Ponheary had a meeting with the teachers to discuss new goernment rules. We visited the new dorm that the PLF has purchased so 12 girls from the country can attend High School. Another day, we visited the family of one student who needed assistance getting his younger brother into Siem Reap to be fitted for a new wheelchair, and another time we checked into a house where orphans are living, but seem to need some assistance. Our two weeks in the classroom was amazing. The kids are wonderful, as well as their regular teacher. We learned what a difference just getting a school uniform can make in the lives of these kids, but Ponheary goes way beyond that, providing healthy meals, wells for clean water, and making the school a positive option to staying home and working on the garden or selling trinkets at the temples. I saw her turn a tourist's, "What can we do to help?" into them feeding a healthy lunch to 400 kids. Not only that but Ponheary, all her family, and various drivers and volunteers all came to chop, cook and serve.
Amazing organization that provides education to Khmer students as well as the minor health care it takes to keep the kids in school, meals, nuitritional supplements, shoes, clean water, and whatever other projects donors and volunteers are willing to participate in to create a postiive structure and environment that is assistive in sustaining an educational environment for Cambodian kids. The organization itself is so sustainable because it is not bloated with management costs or salaries. The organization is run by Ponheary Ly and her immediate family including sister Lori. A very transparent organization doing amazing work!
I've supported Ponheary and Lori's work for several years; traveled with my husband to Siem Reap and did an art exchange and English class in one of the schools, as well as sent funds on a regular basis. Education is Cambodia's future and this is hands on work changing the lives of children and families for the better. Cambodia is somewhere you can truly make a difference one-on-one. I have worked with many non-profits over the years and have never found one where the mission is so well served and the funds better allocated to actually making a difference. There is no fluff here -- and if you're lucky enough to visit in person, it will change your life.
In 2007 my family and I visited Siem Reap with Ponheary Ly as our guide. Before arriving, I learned about her non-profit and spoke with the president Lori Carlson. By spreading the word to friends and family, we collected over $1500 which we personally donated. As a "reward" we had the opportunity to be the first group to sponsor a field-trip for 4th and 5th grade students to the temples at Angkor Wat. By hiring a Khmer speaking guide the kids were able to learn about their history - a topic not covered in school. While eating lunch at a nearby restaurant, another first for the children, an Australian approached us and asked what we were doing. After explaining that the Ponheary Ly Foundation enables poor children in rural areas to go to public school and that we were taking them on a history lesson, he immediately offered to help. He bought every chid a special treat: a canned fruit drink. Several hours later, our heads swirling with gods and goddesses, battles and legends, I noticed one girls still clutching her unopened drink. Ponheary I asked, "why isn't she drinking it?" Ponheary replied, "she will take it home and share it with her mother and father, sister and brothers."