Svay Savong

Age 30, Savong is the director of the school. Svay Savong was born in the early 1980s during a time of extreme poverty and hardship in Cambodia following the Pol Pot years which saw the death of some 1.8 million Cambodians and the destruction of all the main elements of society: religion, families, education and the economy. Times were fiercely poor in the 1980s and 1990s and as a child Savong worked many years.

Savong's father is an educated man who used to be a Buddhist monk, and he instilled in Savong very strong values, and it is from these that Savong's dream to provide not just education but free education have arisen. His father was one of the people who collected the bones and human remains at the killing fields pagoda, Wat Thmey, near Siem Reap. In fact Savong spent many years living at the monastery, gaining an education and discovering his calling in life: to provide education for young people who do not have fair access to schooling.

As director of the school and SOC, Savong spends much of his time liaising with visitors and volunteers as well as managing the day to day operation of the school and associated orphanage -  and part of his time he spends teaching. He is also entrepreneurial, and occasionally helps arrange tour groups for a commission - and from this income stream he supports his family and was able to purchase his car, a 1996 SUV. 

He is married, and he and his wife Aneed are proud parents of two delightful young daughters Visa and Suna, and a son, born in 2011 named Lucky.

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Savong, back in 2004, dreaming of a school in the countryside. His values come from his father in particular who was a Buddhist Monk and is today a consultant to a wide community - locals come to him for advice and guidance. This shot was taken in October 2004 - on the wide West Baray lake near Angkor Wat. That day, Savong shared his dream of building a school in the countryside and within a year that school was opened.


Right now in Cambodia half the population is under the age of nineteen. Two thirds of teenagers do not complete high school and most have dim propspects for employment. One opportunity is language: knowing English and Japanese in order to work in the burgeoning tourism sector. Savong's dream is to offer free language education to rural students who otherwise would have no access to this kind of education.

Savong's Name

Savong is his nickname, but on his ID papers Savong is really Vong. In Cambodia, when children are born, the parents usually wait one or two weeks before naming their child. They choose carefully - and here is what
the name Vong means:

  1. Try to support people.
  2. Look after the country and family (people and kids).
  3. A person who likes advising and telling people about right things.
  4. Shows the best the for people - a guide.


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