A group of Cambodian Americans came together recently to raise money for students in Cambodia.
The Cambodian Education Excellence Foundation raised $7,000 from a Halloween fundraiser in Virginia, Oct. 31, which will go to outstanding students, organizers said.
“When they have education, they have morality, they can help themselves, their families, their friends and their society,” said Kchao Samrang, the foundation’s board chairman. “We celebrated this fundraising with two objectives: collecting money to help economically disadvantaged, but academically outstanding, students in Cambodia, and, being overseas Khmers, we must know what we should do to help Khmers in the country. I think if we start from a small group, we will be able to help more in the future.”
Halloween is a ceremony for the dead, honored every Oct. 31 in the US and other countries. According to historian Nicholas Rogers, the ancient Celts of Central Europe believed that the border between the human world and Otherworld became thin at the end of the “lighter half” of the year, and the beginning of the “darker half,” allowing spirits to pass.
Each year, adults and children alike don costumes to mark the evening, in a tradition that harkens back to people disguising themselves from harmful spirits. Holding a fundraiser on such a date brought together many different types of people, and many types of costumes, Cambodian farmers and soldiers, for example, or vampires.
Chhim Samudd, a founding member of the Cambodian Education Excellence Foundation, who participated in the fundraiser, told VOA Khmer he was happy to financially contribute to the capacity of Cambodia.
“The main objective is to help Khmer kids in their studies,” he said. “I hope this money will help poor Khmer students who are economically unable to continue their studies in higher education. Although this money is not that much, it at least helps ease their burden.”
At the fundraising, Jean Michel Tijerina, a founder and CEO of the Cambodian Project, which helps build sustainable communities through secondary education, told VOA Khmer that such fundraising enables Cambodian students to continue their studies, which is the foundation for social development.
“I think the CEE Foundation does great work in Cambodia,” he said. “I am very proud to support Dr. Khchao and just enjoy myself tonight. I think there’s a need basically in Cambodia for improving education, and, whenever we can help, I think it’s necessary.”
The Cambodian Education Excellence Foundation was established in April 2007 by a group of intellectuals led by Kchao Samrang.
For the academic year of 2007 to 2008, the foundation provided 30 scholarships to Cambodian students to pursue higher education, and in the following year, it gave 130.
Om Romny, director of the Institute of Technology of Cambodia, told VOA Khmer by phone that earlier in October the foundation provided the institute with a computer lab and 34 computers to help develop IT skills in students.
“The foundation provided us with the lab, so that students have an opportunity to practice after they learn theories,” he said. “The lab can be used for all possibilities to upgrade students’ knowledge.”
The foundation is receiving scholarship applications now, with forms available at www.ceefoundation.org.