“This summer my sister and I volunteered again for the Ponheary Ly Foundation. This marks our 4th summer as volunteers, something that our family has been doing for the last 10 years. This summer we wanted to continue some of the teaching we had begun over the last few summers and also try some new ideas!”

staffords chess 01

William leading Chess Club at Knar Learning Center

“Two years ago, we introduced chess to a couple of PLF schools (it had never been played before) and last summer, we hosted the first ever chess tournament between Knar and Tchey Primary Schools. This summer brought new faces, new learners and new challenges. This is a game that everyone loves and I so really enjoy teaching. What is amazing is after only a few sessions explaining the pieces and the elements of the game, they are ready to compete, some with amazing strategies.

While William was teaching chess, Katie decided to work with her group on a Family Tree. They spent a long time describing what a family tree was and learning new English words. For example sisters, brothers, grandparents and cousins. After learning this new vocabulary, large poster boards and lots of coloured pens were brought out. The kids caught on quickly and were hard at work. What was amazing is just how talented they all are. Family TreeThe Khmer alphabet is very complicated in design which when mastered seems to give the children a natural artistic ability.

Below are some pictures of everybody working together and the final result. Prizes were awarded for the best masterpiece and we gave balloons to every member of the class, which some of them had never seen a balloon before. We loved seeing the fun that they had.


Time for Games

It was then off to introduce BINGO and UNO! The PLF supports a dorm in Siem Reap where older students from the rural countryside live to continue their high school education. For these kids, there is no option in the town in which they live into continue their education. I guess you can say this is like a boarding school where the kids lead a simple life and work hard at their studies.


So here we hosted a pizza night with Bingo and Uno as entertainment. I led the UNO game while my sister Katie led in Bingo. Below are pictures of Katie and I with the Dorm kids, just having something we take for granted in the West, a bit of fun after school.

Playing with little ones

As PLF has expanded it reach, it supports really rural schools, one in Koh Ker. When the Foundation started at this school, there was no fresh water, many of the children were sick and there was little teaching. Over the last few years, PLF has had an enormous impact: bringing a doctor on site, building a water filter tank, hiring a new headmaster, supporting a bunch of new teachers and even building an amazing library.

Here is a picture of the new library-just an incredible transformation. We came armed with games and puzzles. Here are William and I with some really cute players.

Staffords Koh Ker

Time for some food!

One of the amazing things that the PLF does is provide regular access to breakfast and on special occasions, lunch. Can you imagine trying to be in school with no food in your stomach and hungry all day? This is a reality for many Cambodian children.

Koh Ker Lunch

So this trip we planned a special meal for a one of the PLF schools. The menu was a special treat, US-style Fried Chicken with lots of vegetables and some spicy sauce too.

What is amazing was how much they could consume, with even the littlest ones coming back for seconds and thirds. We were so amazed as many kids brought away the food in a plastic bag to bring home to their families as well. It was great to be a part of this experience`



And after any good mealtime and for a bit of exercise, I decided to put together some teams and play football.

Our brother Jamie started the Chey school football team a few years ago, and they are now competing nationally. I just wanted to keep the tradition going.

Sadly, it was time to go home.  (Chum Reap Leah!) – Goodbye

kids goodbye

Here is a picture of Ponheary’s nieces and nephews saying goodbye. To our second family in Cambodia, thank you for making this year as always such a special trip and a special time!



By William & Katie Stafford

London, England