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A Second School Supports HIV Positive Children in Cambodia

On June 1, 2009, the Crown Worldwide Group opened a school building for needy children in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. This is the company’s second school building project in Cambodia.

Located in a farming area in southeastern Phnom Penh, the new building is part of the Son Som Kosal Primary School attended by 3,000 children age six through 16. What makes this school most unique, however, is that it integrates over 100 HIV positive children––many of them orphans. Most schools and even orphanages do not accept these children because they are HIV positive. Many other students of the school are HIV negative but orphaned by AIDS.

A Second School Supports HIV Positive Children in Cambodia

These children are part of the Little Sprouts and Little Folks programs run by the Maryknoll Mission. Through these programs, the Mission helps the children with the HIV virus receive essential antiretroviral medication, gives them a home and attempts to help them to find long-term foster care. Healthy children–orphaned after their parents died of AIDS–are now being mentored and even offered basic computer instruction. The Maryknoll Mission is committed to helping these children obtain an education and build a sustainable life by offering financial support for school uniforms, supplies and other necessities.

A Second School Supports HIV Positive Children in Cambodia

The children's excited faces in anticipation of the day's events, despite temperatures surpassing 80°F (27°C)

The opening ceremony of the Son Som Kosal Primary School was attended by Crown Chairman Jim Thompson, members of his family and key employees of Crown and the Maryknoll Mission who helped make the project a success. The ceremony was officiated by the Governor of Phnom Penh, Kep Chuk Tema. Approximately 1,200 teachers, children and their families in the audience looked on as the Governor thanked Crown for its efforts, asking the company to continue helping the children of his country. He showed the Cambodian government’s support by furnishing ten new sewing machines for one of the classrooms.

A Second School Supports HIV Positive Children in Cambodia

(Left) Governor of Phnom Penh, Kep Chuk Tema presents supplies to the children; (Right) Ten new sewing machines donated by the Cambodia government

In his speech, Jim Thompson spoke about his own family’s humble beginnings, including the fact that his own father was unable to complete his own education because of obligations to support his family. He described how his father urged him and his sister to get an education so that they would have greater opportunities in life. Jim encouraged the students to work hard at school so that they, too, could one day help Cambodia become a stronger country.

Crown hopes to continue helping the children of Cambodia. "The appreciation shown by all the families who will benefit from this school building has encouraged us to continue our work in Cambodia. We will begin research for the next project–maybe a school, a clinic, a library or some other structure–to help the children of these very gracious people in need," said Jim.

A Second School Supports HIV Positive Children in Cambodia

Jim Thompson speaking to the children while they listen attentively

The building opened by Crown was dedicated to Jim Thompson’s wife, Sally Thompson, to acknowledge her hard work to identify and facilitate Crown’s participation. "Sally cares deeply for those who are less fortunate. It is because of her energy and support of this project that Crown got involved. Sally does good things for others every day; I hope that her kindness and inherent goodness will be an inspiration to you to work hard, be honest and help others throughout your life," Jim told the students in his speech.

Crown's first project was the building, in 2007, of the Proa Chum School building located in a rural village two hours drive east of Phnom Penh. That project provided a new school building for 1,000 children living in this remote area of Cambodia.

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