Our story

Read more about how the Happy school started.

How it all started

The Happy School was initially established as a local community initiative in Cambodia’s capital Phnom Penh, in response to the large number of children who simply couldn’t afford to go to school. 

The project was run by three monks and a teacher and school director, named Men Sovan. Its single classroom was made up of plastic tables and chairs on a dirt floor, covered by a tarpaulin roof. But despite the lack of facilities, it was still a place for underprivileged children to gain fundamental literacy and numeracy skills.

In January 2003, a small number of foreigners were asked to help out by teaching the students English and Art for a few hours a week. When they turned up for work one day in April, they found that the school had blown away in a storm.
Determined to re-build, the volunteers wrote to family and friends in Australia and Ireland asking for help. Their friends responded by holding fundraisers and eventually, raised enough money to build a storm-proof classroom and cover the school’s operational costs for the next 18 months.

The classroom was christened ‘The Happy School’ and opened for business on the 15th of June 2003. It was a place for Cambodian children, who otherwise would have most likely missed out on a basic education, to play and learn in a safe, colourful and supportive environment. Over the year, the School has helped many hundreds of children to fulfil their right to learn and play in a safe environment.

Unfortunately, due to insufficient funding and the deteriorating state of the school it had to be closed down by the end of the schoolyear in 2017. We had to reassess our options and made the decision to use our budget for the students which needed it the most and send them to State School. This has meant that more than half of 144 students do not have the opportunity to go to school anymore.

The underlying principles of Happy School still exists and that is to provide quality education to some of the poorest kids of Phnom Penh. The model continues to evolve, and the foreseeable aim is to sponsor as many kids through State School as we can along with providing supplementary educational classes, school uniforms and lunch meals.

Our next goal now is to set up a summer school program to be run during the summer break from the beginning of September until the end of October 2019. We will be teaching English, Maths, Khmer (official Cambodian language) and IT for 6 days a week for 6 weeks. In order for our summer school to be successful we need your help! Every donation really does count, if you could help these kids to go to school, donate now via the donation link.

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