Bridge of Life School was founded by Edward Roohan and Sok Prin in July 2009. Edward had visited Cambodia through a volunteer program and met Sok who was employed at the hotel and non-profit where the group stayed. They taught and English class together during which time Sok mentioned his desire to start an English school and non-profit to help his hometown. After a lot of discussion and planning a $250 donation was made to start the school. Land was donated some and an old wood building was renovated into a simple classroom for eighty initial students.
Due to overwhelming participation the initial building became inadequate. In the winter of 2009 a new English school was constructed to provide a sufficient learning space. The non-profit also expanded to meet other community needs, purchasing its own land adjacent to the school. In the spring of 2010 a sewing course was designed and later a building was constructed to house the program next to our original school. Additional programming completed in Banteay Srey was water well construction, ceramic water filter distribution, and a chicken farm.
In 2011 we began working in Kampong Thom province under the direction of Chea Ing. Like Sok, he had expressed an interested in working on development issues in his hometown. We partnered with the pagoda and began offering classes there in the spring of 2011. The school was later moved under Chea’s house and operates two classes daily. In 2017 computer classes were added to the school..
Our efforts continued to expand in 2012 we began working at our 3rd site – the floating village of Kompong Khleang in Siem Reap province. As children did not begin their studies until they were eight we decided to provide pre-primary education in the village. We have averaged around 60 students per year. We also provided a school boat shuttle to help children in primary school get from their homes to the government school. In 2017 we expanded programming by instituting a clean water project, providing clean water for 35 families.
Our final site is at Wat Tramneak pagoda in Siem Reap city. A local non-profit closed its doors and the programming was abruptly terminated. Bridge of Life School reopened the school to offer English language and computer classes. Our student body is primarily young monks who live at the pagoda but our classroom is also open to local residents. This site also homes our non-profit’s office.
As we look to the future we are focusing our efforts on our site at Kompong Khleang as we find situation there most critical. Virtually no educational aid agencies operate in the area and human rights, like access to clean water, are still not being met. This will mean expanding our clean water project, adding a sewing project, and instituting adult literacy classes.