The Great Work of Ponheary Ly Foundation

I have been to several poor countries as have many of my friends but I have never been to a place, nor heard of one from my friends’ experiences, that evokes as much desire to give something back as Cambodia. I think it has something to do with the unbelievably friendly and indomitable spirit of the Cambodian people in light of the unimaginable horrors of the Pol Pot period.

In a recent article I came across a couple from Philadelphia, USA, who write about meeting Ponheary Ly while touring in Siem Reap. In their article they write about another American tourist who had also met Ponheary Ly and was so moved by what Ponheary was doing to help educate poor Cambodian children that she went back to America and started a foundation to assist in the effort to build schools in the poorest rural areas:

“Lori Carlson, formerly of Austin, Texas, was one such convert. When she visited here in 2005, Carlson was struck by Ly’s background and dedication. On her return to the States, she founded the Ponheary Ly Foundation, a registered nonprofit that channels money directly to the schools.

“Carlson, 48, raised $90,000 for five schools – and quit her job to move here to work full time with Ly. She formed a board of directors for the PLF, which distributed school supplies to 1,955 children.

“”I believe the travelers who go to visit the temples at Angkor Wat understand they bear at least some of the responsibility to gently nudge these children toward school rather than reinforce the idea that it’s good to stand on the corner and beg dollars from tourists,” she said.”

Before I went to Cambodia, someone ‘warned’ me of this effect Cambodia could have on me. And he was right. So this is a ‘warning’ to others. Cambodia can be hazardous to your cynicism and complacency. While there and after you return, you may experience an irresistible longing to somehow get involved in doing something for the Cambodian people. Don’t fight it. Just do it!

(If you are planning a trip to Angkor Wat please check out Savuth’s tuk tuk transportation services at

~ by Leonard on July 22, 2008.

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