The School at Knar got a little facelift during the new year when a group of University students from Singapore came to paint and tidy up the garden during “Operation Break Out”.

The transformation of the Library at Knar School

Here is a summary of the activities, written by Toh Zhi Hong:


“The trip has been one of the most memorable in my life and I thank the foundation for providing us with the opportunity to achieve this.
Typically, we would arrive at the school by 10 to 1030 AM and prepare for lessons with the children which will begin at 11 AM. Song Gee, Bernard, Yong Qiang and I taught the grade 3 kids on Let’s Go 3rd Edition and English for Children, whereas Jacob and Phyllis taught the grade 6 kids on English for Cambodia. We usually start work in the classrooms by 130 PM after a short break for lunch.

Firstly, we completed a makeover for the library by removing excess posters, repairing and repainting the walls, rearranged the furnitures, removed the floorings and cleaning the dirt underneath. This makeover took longer than we had planned to and dragged a whole week for us to finally complete it. We only finished with the library on Saturday. At the end of it, we created a photo montage and hung it on the wall of the library.

During the second week, we started on the kindergarten which we did the same things as the library other than removing the floorings. This time round, there were even more paintings to beautify the room and to make the children like their study environment.

We also bought the resources needed for the beautification of the garden, which consisted of bricks, sand and cement bags. We also bought seedlings which can hopefully bear enough fruits to feed the children even better. However, we didn’t really get the opportunity to work on the garden due to us underestimating the time we would need to spend on the library and kindergarten. It was really a situation of too many things to do, yet too little time. However, the staff and students of Khnar helped us by completing the garden beautification themselves. By the time we completed the rooms, more than 3 plots of garden were completed. I hope by now, the plots are completed and the seedlings planted.

The yard at the school before

After extensive brick work in the schoolyard.


On New Year’s Eve, we celebrated with students from our English classes by bringing sculpting balloons and sweets/jellies for them. We made all sorts of animals for them, and gave our classes sweets for every one of them. We also made a small photo memento for each student. For students who didn’t come that day, we passed the memento to their teacher, Mr. Neang.
Our time there has been really memorable. I’ve been to Cambodia before and worked at a village school in Phnom Penh previously. However, as that trip was with my school and YMCA, as students, we followed the programme agenda laid out for us and admittedly, we didn’t do much the previous time. Hence, it had always been a wish for me to come here once more, by organising my own trip with friends, and hopefully, by being able to decide on the programme agenda ourselves, we can contribute more to the school. At the end of the trip, I must say, with just 6 of us, and limited funds from our donation drives, we managed to achieve a respectable amount. We really hope that we helped contribute a better study environment for the children. Already, we can see the enthusiasm of the children while they study. Perhaps, our newly made-over rooms can make the kids even more happier to go to school.
In just these 2 short weeks, I’ve learnt many lessons. From the school, we can see the enthusiasm of the students and the respect that they accord to us as teachers. They made me rethink of the way we treat education in Singapore as a given and helped me appreciate the system here in Singapore and strive to work even harder. Mr Sovanny and the teachers there are also amongst the most dedicated teachers I’ve ever met. I truly respect him for the way he gives his best to the students in the school, by staying in the school every night except Saturday nights even when he’s married, just to be able to be on time to make breakfasts for the students. His love for students are really unmatched. For that, all of us really admire his passion. Looking at how every student helped out with the garden beautification also made me see the love for their school by every student. There are many other little lessons here and there which taught me values like humility etc which happen on a daily basis. Teaching the children has also been one of our greatest pleasures during the trip. This is one point that all of us would definitely agree on. Even right now, I miss seeing the kids and teaching them. Hopefully, more volunteers would arrive and helped them brush up their language skills. My biggest wish is to really see these kids break out of the vicious cycle of poverty and they’ve already taken the right first step which is education.
Please help send our best regards to the students that we taught there at Khnar and also to all the teachers there who’ve helped us proceed properly with our lessons, especially Mr Sovanny and his ever-present smile. If possible, please also print out some photos and pass them to Mr Sovanny, which was his last wish before we left. Thanks for supporting us over these few months of correspondences. Operation BreakOut was a success thanks to your help. (Just in case you were wondering why we named our project as that, the breakout part signifies our wish to help the kidsbreak out of poverty through education. =D)
That’s all from me. To the rest of the team, thanks for making this trip unbelievably fun!!”




Many thanks to




for their work in raising the funds necessary to do the project and then for their stamina to do such amazing work with a sorrowful lack of equipment including running water and electricity!


The children adore the library and we have many new library projects underway. We send thanks!


Drawing lessons in the new library