Posted by Chris Snyder, Coordinator, District 7070 Sweat Equity

Chris Snyder, Chair of District 7070's Sweat Equity Program,  has outlined the trip of a lifetime to Siem Reap and completion of the Bakong Technical School (BTC) - real Rotary service in Cambodia from November 15 to December 1, 2018. A time to change your life. Join with other Rotarains and become People of Action.

Here is Chris' call to action..... 

 Hello fellow Rotarians and friends,

It is now time to move ahead and get ready for this year's trip to Siem Reap and completion of the Bakong Technical School (BTC).

I have had numerous discussions with Ronnie and our planned date of departure is Thursday, November 15th and return Saturday, December 1st, 2018. These dates are subject to slight changes.

Ronnie will be in Cambodia towards the end of March and will be pulling together many of the details. By the time of our arrival, he will have retired and will be giving his full attention to the school. There is a complete team in place.

Based on our earlier emails, there are many who have expressed considerable interest in returning to see and participate in the results of our tile and brick laying, painting, carpentry and road building. There also may a group from the US joining us.

Our activities this year will be in general lighter painting, landscaping, teaching English, computers and culinary skills. We will also work with the local construction crew using whatever skills we have to offer.

We have enclosed forms to fill in and if you know of others who would like to come, please have them fill in a form and send to us with their cheques. For those who have not been before or want to bring back memories, click on our website and blog to follow along the many activities of the last trip in 2013.

Our Work

As mentioned, we will be working at BTC primarily on the classrooms. There may also be activity working on the bicycle repair shop for landmine survivors at the school. We also plan to spend some time at the new BCI Orphanage assisting with some of the new building and at the Enrichment School likely the new one closest to BTC for the children living at the dump close by. We will also be spending time at the Landmine Museum working with Jill and Jill Morse and the Cambodian Self Help Demining Team (our participation does not include demining).

Other Activities

We will be met on arrival, taken to our hotel and will have a short walk around followed by a light Cambodian massage (the more intense ones can come later).

We will be there for the Moon and Water Festival and a grand opening ceremony at BTC. There will be great festivities at the site, an evening banquet and an evening party. Those returning remember these parties. There will be much mingling with the Khmer and other special Cambodian interaction. In the evening, we will have special speakers. There will also be free time to explore Siem Reap.


Our work at BTC is just outside of Siem Reap. As most of you know, Siem Reap is the location of the UNESCO Angkor World Heritage Site. Cambodia is very poor, is mainly rural and has a population of 14 million. It has an old and fascinating history. Buddhism is the main religion. The Khmer are gentle people but there are many memories and reminders from the expanded Vietnam War and subsequent civil war. The most visible being the many landmines victims (the Siem Reap area is mine free). At one time, it was estimated over 50% of the population of Cambodia suffered from post-traumatic stress. This number is still high but there are still many scars from this terrible time in their history.


We will be partnering with BTC and Ronnie Yimsut, a Killing Fields survivor and author of the book “Facing the Khmer Rouge – A Cambodia Journey”.

The BTC Mission is to support the belief that a well-designed and supported education system is crucial to the development of a rural Cambodia in a positive, inclusive and cooperative manner that will serve as an effective key in helping to lift the participating communities and ultimately the whole of the Khmer people out of dire poverty.


Other Program Activity

Will likely include:

  • working at the Enrichment School. Our work could include the teaching of English and computers at one of their schools. The new school is close to BTC.

  • participate in the Cambodian Landmine Museum and Relief Facility. (This should be of special interest to Rotarians because of their involvement in the landmine issue).Aki Ra, a former child soldier and now a deminer is the founder of the museum. In 2010, he was chosen as one of the CNN Top 10 Heroes.

  • work at BCI, an orphanage we have supported.

  • we will mix and work with the local people at Rolous Village which will provide additional insight into their culture.

  • have a few informal evening talks from local people

  • visit to Angkor Wat and boat ride to stilt village on Tonle Sap Lake

  • spend time with villagers and school children

  • emphasis will be placed on spending time with the local people and obtaining a better insight into the effects of landmines.

Team Size

Because of space considerations and ensuring that we are all suitably active while there, the team will be limited to between 15-20 people.

Further Information

We will schedule an information meeting at Brian Westlake's office likely in May. This meeting is not compulsory, however, we will share more information and answer questions. It will also introduce you to a number of the other participants. Please plan to come to it particularly if you have not been with us to Cambodia before and are contemplating coming and wanting more information.

Team Leaders

From Canada, the team leaders will be Chris Snyder & Brian Westlake. Others who have been there before will assist.


The exact routing has not been established, however, will likely be via Seoul, Korea or Hong Kong and Bangkok. If people wish, they may go and come another way. If so, an allowance of $1,500 will be given towards an alternate route. Alternate trips can be arranged, if desired, with our travel agent, Jennifer Patterson at Merit Travel ( Note, our flights include cancellation insurance.


Cheques, in the form of a donation, are to be dated and made payable in Canadian dollars to The Canadian Landmine Foundation (CLMF), the sponsor, as follows:

$300 deposit with application (non-refundable)

$1,500 dated April 1st

$1,500 dated June 1st

$1,500 dated Sept. 1st

plus $125 single supplement

Tax receipts for this amount will be sent at the end of 2018.

The cost will include our transportation, meals and accommodation. Locally, we will be traveling either by van to our destinations or by tuk tuks. These are small vehicles which will seat 2-4 people. They are lots of fun.

In addition to your expenses, your donation will pay for building supplies, employing local people to do the building, school supplies, assistance at the schools and orphanage and a demining initiative at CSHD (Landmine Museum).


All cheques payable to The Canadian Landmine Foundation (CLMF) are to be sent to Julie Dunaiskis c/o ECC Group, 100 Simcoe St., Suite 110 Toronto, ON M5H 3G2. Please send in all cheques together, postdated and fill in the attached Participant Application Form using your

full name as it appears on your passport  along with your $300 deposit and the Waiver as soon as possible. You may send post dated cheques or a cheque for the full amount.

Note: The $300 deposit will hold your place and is not refundable.


This has not yet been firmed up, however we hope to stay again at the fine Ta Prohm Hotel in downtown Siem Reap.(Ronnie will confirm when he is there in March). People loved the hotel staff and service.

The rooms will be double with showers and air conditioning. We will plan to have most meals at the hotel or close by with the exception of lunches which will be at the place where we work. The meals at the job site are special Cambodian dishes, Alcohol drinks are for your own account. The single supplement is $125 should you not wish to share. Please advise Chris at time of booking to ensure availability with the hotel.

Separate Travel Plans and Excursions

If you wish, you can make separate travel plans before or after, or get there on your own. Dates can vary too. Please contact the travel agent Jennifer Patterson if you wish to make a trip before or after, but please review first with Chris Snyder. at:

Weekend Outings

During the week, we plan to stay in Siem Reap and visit Angkor Wat, the stilt villages and other places of interest close by. This will be an extra expense.

On the weekend, we are considering Battambang including the Bamboo Railroad or Phnom Penh with the Killing Fields, the Royal Palace and many other unique and exciting things to see and do. It is expected these personal side trips will be about $300 US.

Passports & Visas

You will need a passport that has an expiry date not less than 6 months after your scheduled departure from Cambodia. A visa is necessary but will be arranged in advance and included in the price.

What To Bring

Your attitude is the most important thing to bring, however, once we have received your deposit, we will send a What To Bring sheet as well as a wish list. Because of weight allowances, the extras we bring will be less than other trips.

Travelling Money

You will need to bring money for weekend outings, separate souvenirs and possible optional dinners. We will be visiting local markets. We suggest you bring at least $500 US in cash as US currency is commonly used. ATMs are available and credit cards may be used in some places.


This is a trip in which everyone participates. Many activities will be group activities, however, it is recognized there is a need for individual space. It is not intended that anyone receive special treatment. We will be working along and beside local people. The main focus will be to build, however, we will provide opportunities to participate in Khmer activities at other places in schools and other organizations. It may take some time to get into the swing of the building and a certain amount of flexibility is required. We do not ask anyone to do more than they are able to physically or mentally do, but you should keep in mind this is a physical trip although you will not be asked to do anything you are not comfortable with.

The schedule is important. It will be necessary for everyone to be on time. It is not fair for one person to hold up the entire group. Meals, flights, tours and meetings need to operate on time. Please act with the entire groups’ welfare in mind.


We have found in the past some of the clubs and others will want to make donations to the school. I will send a draft letter later for you to use as we get closer to the date.

First Aid/Medical

Report any medical problems to the team leader immediately.

Because Cambodia is a hot tropical country, it is important to drink plenty of water whether you are thirsty or not. Water and other liquids will be provided for you on the job site.

Check with your family doctor to determine your personal needs for inoculations and for special medical precautions. We have been advised that malaria pills are not necessary for the Siem Reap area, however, check with your local travel clinics. We would recommend Ducarol, which helps with stomach problems. Please bring any medical issues to the attention of the trip organizers.

The food is very good and every care will be taken to ensure it is well prepared, cleaned and safe. You should though exercise great caution.

Out of country health coverage is your responsibility.

If you are interested in more background, here are some books and websites:

  • Siem Reap –

  • Cambodia –

  • Book – Children of Cambodia’s Killing Fields, Memories of Survivors(Ronnie Yimsut is featured in this)Dith Pran

  • Book – First They Killed My Father: A Daughter of Cambodia Remembers- Loung Ung

  • Book – The Disappeared - Kim Echlin - a novel about a Cambodian Genocide Survivor

  • Lisa’s website

  • Ronnie Yimsut – Facing the Khmer

  • Cambodia’s Curse - Joel Brinkley

Other Books

An Imperfect Offering – James Orbinski – co-founder of Dignitas, Past President of Doctors Without Borders

Three Cups of Tea and Stones to Schools – Greg Mortenson – Greg grew up in Moshi, however, he has spent the past 10 years building schools in Pakistan and Afghanistan

The End of Poverty – Jeffrey Sachs

Creating a World Without Poverty – Muhammad Yunus(former Nobel Peace Prize Winner)

The Bottom Billion: Why the Poorest Countries are Failing & What Can Be Done About It – Paul Collier

Dead Aid – Dambisa Moyo

The Headmaster’s Wager – Vincent Lam (about Vietnam)


Common Wealth Jeffrey Sachs – a great book by one of the world’s foremost developing country economists.

Race Against Time – Stephen Lewis – about the AIDS pandemic and other poverty-related issues.

Past trips have been highlighted by the camaraderie not only with the people on the trip but the wonderful local people with whom we work. The work is a means to understand the issues of the people as well as providing them with assistance which will help improve their lives.



J. Christopher Snyder

Coordinator, District 7070

Sweat Equity

Tel: 416-364-0181 Ext. 2501