Mr. Togh’s Programs
Through free education, we are creating a brighter future in which the new generation of society’s poorest has the opportunity to realize their dreams and escape the cycle of poverty into which they were born.
VDCA is the name for the Volunteer Development Poverty Children’s School in Siem Reap, Cambodia. The school was registered as an official NGO in Cambodia in September 2007 and functions as a supplementary school to the public school system for the majority of the children. Some students, however, are orphans or come from families who cannot afford the monthly fee of 6,000 Riel (1.50 USD) for public schools.
The school was first established in 2005 by two Buddhist monks, Rathana Nn and Togh Main, who wanted to give some of Siem Reap’s poorest children a future by offering free education and advice. Within just four years, VDCA evolved from two basic thatch classrooms to a large and colorful school with more than 600 students enjoying learning and playing there.
This achievement was only possible with the help of numerous volunteers and supporters worldwide. The current school opened in August 2008 offering free English classes and other courses to children and young adults. Regular teacher trainings and the international volunteer program constantly improve the quality of the education provided.
Siem Reap is the most popular tourist destination in Cambodia and learning English is essential if students want to get a job in the tourist industry in the future. Although Siem Reap benefits from increased tourism, this has unfortunately also attracted those who exploit children. VDCA provides a safe, supervised and positive environment for children in the afternoon. Once students finish studying or working in the morning, they spend their afternoon at the school learning and playing, not on their own in town. If Cambodian children are left on their own, there is the possibility they may become victim to pedophilia, child prostitution or exploitation.
Further, Cambodia has the highest HIV/AIDS rate out of all of the Southeast Asian countries, so the information the children receive from our monks during health and moral classes is vital to keeping them safe from infection. Foreign NGOs often invite our school’s monks to attend health information sessions and the information they receive is then passed on to the students. Since Cambodia has very strong Buddhist traditions, children are also taught Buddhist values to help them develop into responsible adults.
VDCA also helps to support and develop the skills and understanding of Cambodians for a more sustainable future. For example, during the construction of the new school, local Cambodian construction workers were employed and materials used were made in Siem Reap. Whenever a new project is being developed, creating opportunities to utilize the skills and abilities of the older students is a foremost priority. Using the skills of local craftsmen with all furnishings and fixtures, offers continuing support and contribution to the economic and communal development of the area.
Anlung Pi School
At the Anlung Pi Free School, we provide free education for underprivileged children in rural Cambodia where there is no power or running water, and many of the families work and live at the large rubbish dump located nearby. Because so many of the children have already followed their parents into work on the rubbish dump, few options and little opportunity to make a better future exists.
To improve this situation we want to provide opportunities by teaching the English language, but also exposing the children to basic moral values, Buddhism and informing on important topics, such as hygiene.
Anlung Pi is also the homeland of VDCA co-founder and Director Togh Main, and it has always been his dream to give Cambodian children a better future. Anlung Pi free school was formally opened on January 21st, 2012, and classes are now running from Monday to Friday in the morning as well as in the afternoon.
The school is a branch of the Volunteer Development Children’s Association in Siem Reap, which operates as a supplementary school to the public school system.
Building Together for Cambodia
‘Building Together for Cambodia’ is a community project of VDCA designed to help people who work on Siem Reap’s Rubbish Dump at Anlung Pi, aiming to provide a cleaner and healthier living environment for those families living on or near the rubbish dump.
Togh Main, director of VDCA, opened Anlung Pi Free School to provide extra lessons for the children of Anlung Pi and neighboring villages. Anlung Pi is the village in which Togh was born and brought up. Many of his family still live there.
We first visited the Rubbish Dump with Togh in Feb 2013. We met with and talked to many of the people who eke out a living scavenging off the waste from Siem Reap. We never cease to be amazed at the cheerfulness and friendliness of these people. It is difficult to accurately describe the appalling conditions in which they live. They have never asked for anything.
Togh said, “What can we do to help these people?”
Togh has found and bought a piece of land close to Anlung Pi Village and near to the dump. Initially we aim to build a small community, ‘Building Together for Cambodia,’ on the land so families can live away from the dump where they have to work.
Here is what was accomplished with consultation with elders & community leaders:
• Construction of homes
• Installation of wells and water filters;
• Construction of toilets and washing areas;
• Agricultural us of land to grow vegetables and raise chickens;
• Secured boundary fence installed
• Ongoing support and training opportunities so families no longer need to rely on the Dump for a living.