Thrive Cambodia Inc. is incorporated in Victoria, Australia. It was created in 2011 to help the families of Som Rong Village, near Siem Reap, Cambodia.
Deep in the heart of rural Cambodia lies Som Rong Village. It consists of typical Khmer houses on high stumps. Behind the houses lie fields that provide the families with vegetables, herbs and rice. Everyday is spent producing enough food to live. The heavy work is done with buffalo if you are lucky enough to own one, the rest is done by hand. Excess produce is transported to the local market to be sold. The money earned is barely enough to buy the food that can’t be produced and to save the costs such as the State school levy of $2 per week per child. There is very little money for medicine or dental care and those services are non existent in the village and one would have to find transport to a local clinic. This is 2011!
When the money runs out, the children are taken out of school. If you are an orphan there is no-one to pay this fee except your uncle who may also have 3 or 4 children.
There is a city 30kms away that is home to Angkor Wat. If you can speak a foreign language you may be able to get a job in hospitality or transport or become a tour-guide. If you have finished primary school (about 40% of young Cambodians reach this level) you may be able to work in an office.
Being the youngest of 7 boys, Sim left school at 16. His primary education was sporadic and incomplete, maybe grade 4 or 5. His father needed him to work in the rice paddies. He desperately wanted an education so he became a monk and learned Sanskrit and Pali. The monks disapproved of him wanting to learn English, so he hid under his bed at night with a torch and a dictionary. After 6 austere years as a monk, he left monastic life and went to work in a Spanish ex-pat household in Siem Reap. He worked 6 days a week in exchange for food, a bed and Spanish lessons. After several years, he was fluent enough in both English and Spanish to become a licensed tour-guide to the amazing Angkor Temples in Siem Reap.
Over the next couple of years Sim lived in a monastery as a lay person to save money, using his tour guide fees to support his elderly parents, his orphan nieces and nephews and to buy building materials to rebuild his parent’s house to incorporate under-house space for a class room. He had a dream to provide a free English language school for the 67 children (including 25 orphans) in his village.
In February 2011 the school was opened. Sim pays the teachers and provides a snack with his tour guide fees and donations from visitors to his village. As the hot dry season begins, tourism slows down and he may only work 3-5 days per month – not enough to keep the school going.
This is where Thrive Cambodia begins….
Sim’s tour-guide services
The amazing Angkor Temples in Siem Reap, Cambodia come alive with Sim, your personal tour-guide. With your own day-guide you can travel around the temples at your own pace, be shown points of interest, learn the history of the area and gain insight into the ancient Buddhist and Hindu stories told by the stone carved friezes and reliefs. Sim will even teach you some basic Cambodian to help you interact with the locals.
Book tour of Angkor Temples
Sim’s Phone number: 012613795 (Int.+85512613795)
Sim’s Website: www.angkor-tourguide.com