Visit With Life and Hope Association
January 29, 2016

I had a most interesting conversation with the Venerable Lorm Loeurm, Executive Director of the Life and Hope Association in Siem Reap, Cambodia.

Located on the grounds of the Wat (Buddhist Temple) Damnak, I first visited this place three years ago. Although interesting, we failed to get involved. Today, during a fresh visit with fresh eyes I was impressed – especially with the commitment and leadership of Lorm Loeurm, the new Executive Director. Lorm seems to have infused fresh energy into this fine organization dedicated to bettering the lives of marginalized and at-risk women.

Life and Hope Association now has two major programs:

One is called PAGE (Program for Advancing Girls’ Education). With this program they are caring for 28 girls living in off-site housing in Siem Reap and attending the local high school. Since only the poorest children are eligible for this program, without this assistance they would have virtually no chance at an education beyond primary school and would be doomed to an impoverished life of subsistence farming in a local village. Life and Hope is currently expanding this program so they will be able to serve 35 girls in the upcoming school term.

Their other program is a Sewing School serving women from the local villages. Here, over the duration of a ten-month live-in training course, they learn to become skilled seamstresses. Upon graduation, they leave – sewing machine in hand – to embark on a more self-sustaining life. Some are employed in high-skilled positions with garment manufacturing enterprises. Others return to their villages and start small businesses serving the local community. Still others move on to teach their skills to other women. All-in-all, the Life and Hope Association is doing an exemplary job of providing life skills training and enabling these women to substantially enhance the standard of living for themselves and their families.

Now they are expanding the Sewing Program to include more women and building a new house for these students. There, residing near Sewing School, these fortunate women will live in a supporting community of their own. So far they have raised $59,000 of the projected $69,000 cost of this new home. Just $10,000 to go.

I’d love to see our SE Asia Foundation be the ones to put them over the top and bring this new home into reality.