Posts Tagged ‘Cambodia’

A Message from Dan Rogers: Happy New Year!

Thursday, January 14th, 2016

Dan Rogers, Board Chair

2015 was quite the year for Compassionate Eye Foundation! It started in Cambodia for four members of the Board of Directors, including myself and Steven Errico, a photographer who has shot for CEF for about nine years. Trips to countries where we support programs and projects are always interesting, sobering, emotional, enjoyable, and entrancing. Cambodia was all of those. Our time spent with the people in Cambodia still resonates and we came to appreciate much more fully the deep dedication and tremendous work done by our great partner Kids International Development Society (K.I.D.S.) and their local partners.

The reason for CEF is the projects and programs we fund around the world. In addition to our work with K.I.D.S. in Cambodia, this past year we continued our support of the community of Tuixocel in Guatemala, the Peer Literacy and Teacher training programs in Sierra Leone through Cause Canada, and the Orphans and Vulnerable Children program with Partners in the Horn of Africa in Ethiopia. We also started a new initiative with Free the Children in Kenya, and funded a program with the Global Health Initiative (based out of UBC) in Peru. The work all of our partners do continues to inspire and we are proud to be involved with all of them.

2015 was also the year that, after 10 years, Susan McDonald stepped down as the Executive Director and we learned (painfully, I might add) to live without her. Fortunately, she is still involved with CEF as a volunteer. We continue our search for the right person to fill the Executive Director position and hopefully will be able to announce someone very soon.

Each year we give thanks to all involved in the various shoots around the world that support our work and in 2015 we had more to be thankful than usual. From Toronto, to Hawaii, to multiple shoots in London and Vancouver to our final shoot just before Christmas in Montreal, it was a great year for CEF and we are very excited to see the results. These are challenging times in the stock photography world, but we are determined to continue to generate funds for these projects. We are humbled and grateful for all the extremely talented creative folks who give (and then give some more) to help CEF succeed.

I also want to recognize three other people who stepped down from roles in CEF this past year. Fiona Watson left us after years as our Creative Director. We could not have achieved near as much as we have with you, Fiona! However, Fiona did us the great favour by arranging her replacement in Kate Stevens; who has seamlessly taken over the role. Our Board of Directors has also experienced change, with Michael Glogowsky and Andrea Dowd-Deaver stepping down after many years. We miss you both.

There are too many people to thank including our great delivery partners, creative staff, communications and branding volunteers (thank you EFM!) and the tireless Board of Directors. We know we have a lot of work ahead of us in 2016 as it is also our 10th Anniversary. We are planning a celebration and the biggest “shoot” year yet!  It will be exciting and challenging. I look forward to all our supporters being involved! As always, if you have any comments or questions, don’t hesitate to contact me at

Wishing you all the very best for 2016!

Project Update: New Classrooms for Trakiet Primary School in Cambodia

Wednesday, December 30th, 2015

Jaishree Narsih

Imagine attending a school where you had to share one small classroom with more than 60 other students. It seems unbelievable to think about, but this is the reality for many children living in rural Cambodia.

Compassionate Eye Foundation, in partnership with Kids International Development Society (K.I.D.S.) is helping fund the building of four new classrooms at Trakiet Primary School in Cambodia. With four classrooms already in place, the hope is to alleviate the overcrowding that is happening and ensure that all the kids have access to a proper education in an environment that is conducive to learning. This project provides a second benefit because some of the community members can be employed as labourers for the classroom construction.

Photo: Robert Kent, CEF's founder, during his recent visit to Cambodia

New classrooms under construction. Photo by Robert Kent, CEF’s founder, during his recent visit to Cambodia.

On average, the four classrooms that are currently in place serve about 500 students that come from three different villages; with many students commuting over long distances. Due to overcrowding, some of the kids are taught in a tin building that overheats quite easily and has a dirt floor, which becomes a mud floor when it’s rainy. To compensate for the lack of room, some children are being taught in a nearby monastery, which means that they don’t get access to the lunch program that is funded at the school.

The red hut in the background is the original classroom building that is currently being replaced. Photo: Robert Kent

Many of these students and their families live on or close to the poverty line. A good education is the only way to break this cycle of poverty and give the kids an opportunity to be able to find good sustainable employment and ensure a brighter future. The four new additional classrooms, along with desks, chairs, blackboards, and tables will vastly improve the learning conditions.

Construction is currently underway and the school will be fully completed by April 2016. There are about 15 workers from the community that have been hired to help with this project. Below is an excerpt from the Co-Founder Administrator of the Kids International Development Society, outlining how helpful this project will be:

“It will be a relief for the children and teaching staff to have better conditions to learn and teach in. The staff were saying that during the rainy season the water in the little tin building with the dirt floor is ankle deep and the kids have to put their feet up on the wooden bars of their desks. Right now it is 34 degrees here and the tin building is sweltering hot. Some children have to attend school at a nearby Pagoda as there is no room at their school. ​As well the kids in the kitchen area are crammed in and only have half walls and the lunch program has to be cooked outside,​ so these new ​classrooms will make a huge difference.”


With the completion date only four months away, there is a lot of hope and excitement for what these new classrooms can do for the community. A good education can open so many different opportunities for the people in this small rural town.


Have Triple the Impact on Giving Tuesday!

Saturday, November 28th, 2015

CEF_GivingTuesday_Instagram_2015At CEF, we’re excited to announce that this Giving Tuesday (Dec. 1) we are focusing on the Smart Kids Rural School Sponsorship Program in Cambodia.

This inspiring program, run by Kids International Development Society helps youth receive an education and work towards a better future. It includes educational programs, school supplies, uniforms, and English tutoring.

Many of the youth enrolled in the program work and live in brick factories and cannot afford to go to school. Without an education to obtain better paying jobs, the brick factories are often their future. When CEF Board members visited Cambodia this year we were so impressed with the program and the children, that we knew we had to help support it.

That is why we are directing all Giving Tuesday donations to this program. Not only that, but CEF and generous committed sponsors will match each dollar up to $3,000!

Learn more about the program and our visit to Cambodia here, or watch this short video about one of the youth in the program.

If you are as inspired by this program as we are, please consider making a donation for Giving Tuesday. Every dollar you donate multiplies, having an even greater impact on these children’s lives!

Click here to view our Giving Tuesday campaign page.

Smart Kids

Helping to Break the Cycle of Poverty in Cambodia

Monday, July 27th, 2015

Leah Lockhart, Communications Chair

Education is one of the keys to escaping poverty but, unfortunately for many children, poverty is the biggest barrier to attending school.

During the CEF visit to Cambodia in January, we met with a group of students in a program run by our partner, Kids International Development Society (K.I.D.S.). The program, called Smart Kids, supports children who otherwise would not be able to receive an education.

In Cambodia, especially in rural areas, parents often cannot afford the costs associated with school and require their children to work or help with household chores. Many children work to help support their families and are unable to go to class.

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The children put on a play explaining the importance of clean drinking water.

We met with students at the school where Compassionate Eye was funding a clean water project. Although it was the weekend, the entire school, teachers, and parents came out to greet us. The students in the Smart Kids program performed a fabulous play demonstrating the importance of clean water and how children often miss class because they are ill from drinking unclean water.

Later that afternoon, we visited some of the students in their homes to help us better understand why they were enrolled in the Smart Kids program. Families in that area have very low incomes, mostly derived from fishing and labour – in this case, primarily brick factories. The children, ages six and up, work in the factories alongside their parents, in poor working conditions, often operating dangerous machinery or stacking bricks in kilns.

A kiln in one of the brick factories.

Sadly, many of the children also call these factories home. The stark contrast of these smiling faces in crisp school uniforms sitting at their desks, followed by seeing them in their day clothes surrounded by the dusty, grim factory grounds was unsettling. Many of the families living on the brick factory property cannot leave because they don’t own land and can’t afford to rent or buy a house. One girl’s mother had moved to the factory when she was 15 – her daughter’s age – and had been there ever since. The mother desperately wanted a different future for her daughter, but her options were very limited.

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One of the families that work and live in a brick factory. The girl in the middle is part of the Smart Kids program, which enables her to go to school.

This is where Smart Kids comes in. The program helps break these vicious cycles of poverty by supporting one child from each family by providing education-related expenses like uniforms, school supplies, and a bicycle to commute between home and school. The program also covers Cambodian school costs and English classes.  An education, and especially English lessons, is a ticket out of the difficult situations many of these children endure. The children work hard, often going to school in the morning, then to work in the afternoons, and take English classes in the evening.

At the time of the visit 23 children were enrolled in the program. Upon our return, we decided that CEF would help others have the opportunity, and are delighted to say that we are now supporting an additional 11 children to go to school through the Smart Kids program.

The new group of Smart Kids supported by Compassionate Eye Foundation.

To learn more about the program and some of the children we met on our visit, hop over to our partner K.I.D.S.’ blog here or check out this great video by K.I.D.S. that follows one of the students we met, Pisu, as he goes about his day from the brick factory to school and back.

A Day In The Life Of Pisu from KIDS on Vimeo.

This video is about Pisu

Photo of the Week: World Water Day

Friday, March 20th, 2015

Mia Wesley, Social Media Coordinator

Did you know that more than one billion people around the world lack access to clean water? This Sunday, March 22nd, is World Water Day and in recognition of this day we’d like to share a photograph from one of our clean water projects in Cambodia taken by Vancouver based photographer, Steven Ericco. The newly developed wells funded by the Compassionate Eye Foundation benefits students as well as the residents of the Kauk Chrey and Mook Pen communities of rural Cambodia. With these projects we hope to not only improve the access to clean water but to also advocate healthier and brighter futures to the individuals within these rural communities. Clean water projects are one of the most fundamentally important projects organized by the Compassionate Eye Foundation, therefore the promotion of this day is very close to our hearts.


Dan Rogers: Hope in Cambodia

Wednesday, February 4th, 2015

Dan Rogers, Board Chair

Several Compassionate Eye Foundation board members and a photographer spent late December and early January traveling in Cambodia, the site of many of our health and education projects. Dan Rogers, board chair, shares his thoughts on the journey:

One of the great joys of being on the Board of Directors of Compassionate Eye Foundation is having the opportunity to travel to other countries and see how projects we have funded are making a difference. This year’s trip was to Cambodia.









Cambodia is a complicated country. Thirty years of war, bombings, and a horrific genocide have had a terrible impact on the country and the people who live there. In some ways, Cambodia is in recovery mode and in other ways it is still struggling. It’s hard to not become aware of the large scale corruption and inequity in the country when looking at projects and programs to potentially fund. The government is filled with millionaires and billionaires while most people can’t afford basic health care and students pay 25 cents a day to go to school because the administrative staff and teachers are so poorly paid (an average $80-$100 a month). However, good news exists in the hard work and generosity of many ordinary Khmer, and the work being done by so many organizations like Kids International Development Society (KIDS), supported by groups like Compassionate Eye.

If you only go to Siem Reap in Cambodia (and many visitors do, simply to stay in a foreign owned hotel and visit Angkor Wat) it is a bit like going to Las Vegas to understand America. The surface of Siem Reap is not real but right below the surface it’s all there: the poverty and lack of any social safety net except for what NGOs provide; the children selling t-shirts or working in rice fields instead of going to school.

But there are great stories to share and there are the smiles of people who seemingly have little reason to. The kids who go to school love it! It is an escape from the toil of planting a rice field or working in the brutal brick yards. It is a chance for students to learn, do art, sing, and maybe a chance to change their future. Literacy is so important to making a better life and getting a better job, which in turn enables an individual to help a sister or nephew, and so on.

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One day we visited children in a program called Smart Kids, funded by KIDS. These children receive uniforms and bicycles so they can travel the 13 kilometres to high school each day. One girl we spoke with lived with her disabled father and her three younger siblings (her mother had died) in a shack on the side of the road. Another lived with her mother in the corner of a brick factory. This program enables these children and gives them a chance. We hope to help KIDS expand this program.

As its name implies, KIDS focuses on kids. We met so many wonderful children in schools and got to know a group at a girls’ home. Such lovely kids with often very difficult backgrounds, but now with a lot of hope because they are in a safe place and go to school. And there are tens and hundreds and thousands more that need the same chance. Groups like KIDS are giving some that chance. Compassionate Eye Foundation is proud to support them–and as a Compassionate Eye supporter, you should be proud too!

You can view more photos from the journey on Facebook or by following us on Instagram!

Photo of the Week: More from Cambodia!

Thursday, January 22nd, 2015

In Hye Lee, Social Media Coordinator

Take a look at more photos from our board members’ recent trip to Cambodia! Lakena, pictured here, is a grade 8 student in Kompong Khleang, where CEF is providing clean water to the community in collaboration with Kids International Development Society (K.I.D.S.). Stay tuned for more from our Cambodia trip!

Photo of the Week: Pool Party

Thursday, January 15th, 2015

Krystele Chavez, Social Media Coordinator

The month of January always leaves us in the North Hemisphere trying to stay warm in our thick coats. A great way to beat the cold is by reminiscing about summer fun, as shown in this week’s chosen image taken by Steven Errico. Steven has volunteered his world-class talent to CEF for 8 of CEF’s 9 years, and also accompanied our CEF board members on their recent trip to Cambodia. See more of his extraordinary work on the Getty Images Collection – we’re sure you’ll find many images you could use!


Photo of the Week: CEF in Cambodia

Thursday, January 8th, 2015

Krystele Chavez, Social Media Coordinator

Compassionate Eye Foundation board members Leah Lockhart, Communications Chair, Sue DickProjects Chair, Dan Rogers, Board Chair, and Michael Glogowsky, Board Member on Projects, are currently in Cambodia to see firsthand the positive changes that are occurring thanks to your continued support. This photograph, which was taken by Leah Lockhart at the Kompong Khleang School, shows the older students putting on a short play explaining the importance of clean water for the visiting CEF and Kids International Development Society members. We hope you continue to stay updated with our board members’ trip via Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram!

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Photo of the Week: Kompong Khleang, Cambodia

Saturday, November 22nd, 2014

Leah Yee, Social Media Manager

In addition to the recent announcement of the Clean Drinking Water project in the Kompong Khleang village in Cambodia, we would like to share this photo of the region where the families are living. The new water system, built with CEF funding by Kids International Development Society (K.I.D.S) will bring clean water to hundreds of children and their families.

Kompong Khleang village